Misc.

Burns Night – Books Set in Scotland

In honour of Burns Night, a Scottish holiday that celebrates the life of Scots poet Robert Burns, I thought I’d share a selection of books set in the beautiful country that is Scotland. So prepare your haggis wi tatties an neeps, pour out a wee dram, and settle down by the roaring fire with one of these reads…

Outlander & A History of Scotland

  • If you’ve been following the blog since 2015, you’ve probably heard me mention the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon more than once… I’m just a little bit obsessed! It follows Claire Randall, a combat nurse from 1945, who is in the Scottish Highlands on her honeymoon. Whilst out exploring the countryside, she somehow steps back through time, via a stone circle, and ends up in 1743. She gets caught up with the clans, the Jacobite Rebellion, one dastardly ancestor of her husband, and one very, very sexy be-kilted James Fraser. I’m slowly working my way through the whole series, but so far the first book has been my favourite, because we get to watch Claire and Jamie’s relationship grow.
  • If you fancy a bit of non-fiction instead, then A History of Scotland by Neil Oliver might do the trick. I bought this last year and haven’t yet read it, but I have read his A History of Ancient Britain, which was excellent and very accessible, whether you know your history or not.

Harry Potter & Macbeth

  • It might be forgotten at times, but the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is set in Scotland! Students take the Hogwarts Express from King’s Cross all the way up north into Scotland. Hogwarts is supposedly located somewhere near Dufftown, in the Highlands, which interestingly is near the Glenfiddich Whiskey Distillery… Although I’m pretty sure Hogwarts students are more interested in Butterbeer and Firewhiskey!
  • Of course, William Shakespeare’s classic Macbeth is set in Scotland. The ‘Scottish play’ tells of Macbeth, a Scottish general who receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that he will become King of Scotland. Not wanting to delay his ascension to the throne, and also spurred on by Lady Macbeth, he murders King Duncan and takes the throne. His actions make him paranoid and guilt-ridden, and his reign is one of tyranny.

Trainspotting & The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

  • The infamous tale of heroin addicts, Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh is a 20th century classic. It is made up of short stories, all set in Leith, Edinburgh, and written in a mix of Scots, Scottish English and British English. Maybe not the thing to read if you’re looking for a nice, cosy read about Scotland… but a classic all the same.
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark is one of the author’s best known works, and is set in 1930s Edinburgh. Miss Brodie teaches a group of six girls, in subjects such as classical studies and art history. The book frequently flashes forward through time to show glimpses of the future, and reveals that one of Miss Brodie’s students will eventually betray her.

Kidnapped & Knots and Crosses

  • Kidnapped by Robert Louise Stevenson is a classic adventure story, about the orphaned David Balfour. After a trip to find his last living relative, Uncle Ebenezer, goes horribly wrong, David finds himself kidnapped and imprisoned on a ship. However, it is soon wrecked off the coast of Scotland, and David must make his way back across the Highlands. Kidnapped is set in the period after the Jacobite Rebellion, a very tumultuous period of Scotland’s history.
  • Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin is the first of Rankin’s famous Inspector Rebus series, which follows Detective Sergeant John Rebus as he investigates grizzly crimes throughout Edinburgh. Like Trainspotting, this might not be the one to read just before going off on a weekend away to Edinburgh! 😉

Have you read any of these books? Can you suggest any other great reads set in Scotland?

Advertisements
Top Lists

Top Ten Tuesday #5: Books I Read In School

toptentuesday

This week I’m joining in with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. The theme is ‘Back to School’, so I’m going with just a list of the books I remember reading in school, in no particular order. This comes to nine, but I’m sure there must have been more!

Angela's Ashes Jane Eyre Chinese Cinderella

I vividly remember reading Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt with my class when I was 14, by which point I’d already read it. I also remember, above all else, watching the film and our teacher rushing to fast-forward any ‘inappropriate’ bits, blushing and stammering throughout the whole thing… Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is one book I have previously discussed, more specifically how I absolutely love it. However, it was not love at first sight – mostly because reading books for GCSE English meant tearing every little sentence apart from some kind of hidden meaning. Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah is probably the first book I remember reading at school, I must have read it in primary school when I was 9 or 10 and had already read it several times before (massive book nerd for life). It’s a really interesting look into the culture of China, and the practices of that time, but it’s also very sad.

Pride and Prejudice Wuthering Heights Lord of the Flies

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a book that I feel really suffered at school. I enjoyed it, but also know that I would’ve loved it even more, as would my classmates, if we hadn’t had to completely pull it apart. If we’d just read it as it is, I feel that everyone in the class would have enjoyed it, instead of developing a future hatred for the classics… Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte also suffered from this, although admittedly I did try and re-read it a few years ago and struggled just with the first chapter because of the gardener/servant/whatever he was. The accent was too thick to understand! I also remember the film version of this with Ralph Fiennes much more than anything in the book. Lord of the Flies by William Golding however, I really really loved. It was so different to everything we’d read so far, and I even went so far as to hunt down books inspired by it – I did find one that was a female version of the story, which I then leant to classmates and never got back. I can’t even remember what it was called now!

Crucible Macbeth An Inspector Calls

I studied The Crucible by Arthur Miller for both English and Drama GCSEs. I really enjoyed it, and there are so many different and wonderful adaptations of the plays. It is insane how the community starts to fall apart from the inside because of these crazy beliefs. Of course we had to read some Shakespeare, and Macbeth by William Shakespeare is the one that really stands out. Which reminds me, I still need to watch the film version released last year featuring Michael Fassbender… And finally, An Inspector Calls by J.B. Priestley. We read this in Year 7 or 8, and I remember it being pretty fun – acting it out in English class and following the mystery.

Which books do you remember reading in school? Did any of them really stand out?