So you’re visiting Scotland? Great! But planning your trip isn’t just about deciding which sites to see. You can enrich your trip by reading about the history and culture of Scotland before you go. So check out these eight great books set in Scotland. And inform your planning with some practical resources.
Books Set in Scotland
Waverly, Sir Walter Scott
From Amazon– The book…”tells the story of Edward Waverley, a naïve young man who is posted to Scotland with his regiment. Edward must decide whether he will follow the civilization he has always known, or be drawn into an older world of honor.” Edinburgh’s own Waverly Train station is named for this novel. The station and the Sir Walter Scott monument are must see for literary tourists.
Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
A British combat nurse, just back from World War II is reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon in Scotland. She steps between two stones in an ancient standing circle and is whisked away to a warring and dangerous Scotland of 1743. The book offers a fictional backdrop to Scotland’s Highland history and it’s a rollicking adventure. And if you like the first one, there are seven more to keep you busy.
At the Water’s Edge, Sara Gruen
The author of Water for Elephants come back with the story of a couple who, after disgracing themselves in the Philadelphia society scene, are banished to the highlands on a scheme to track down the Loch Ness monster. From the reviews, “a story about opening up to our inner self.”
Macbeth, William Shakeaspeare
Traitors, a murdering king and a witches brew of toiling trouble follow James VI of Scotland in 1603.
Inspector Rebus Series, Ian Rankin
Rankin’s Inspector Rebus is a perceptive, fragile curmudgeon of a detective. In this classic police procedural series, the detective asserts his independence, much to the annoyance of his “betters”. And he usually get his man. You can start anywhere in the series but the first book is Knots and Crosses.
Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
Mark Renton, or Rent, is a petty thief and a world class heroin addict. He and his equally degenerate band of junkies, nuts and thugs paint a gritty but colorful picture of Edinburgh in the late ’80’s. Reading the book will give you a great primer on the hard to decipher Scottish accent and insight into the darker side of the city.
- Go ahead, get one of the guides listed above, but also check out my Guide to Disobeying Rick Steves in Edinburgh for an alternative itinerary.
- Then take an urban stroll on the Water of Leith walkway and take a tour with Dobby of Harry Potter.
- Check out Two Scots Abroad’s Guide to Scotland.
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