If you are always up for discovering interesting stories and facts, then consider escaping through the pages of a book about Scotland!

There are books about almost every destination that you could possibly think of, and there are so many books set in Scotland. 

From fun, historical fiction reads to classic memoirs that give you a first-person point of view perspective of their own trip to Scotland; this list has it all.

By the end, you’ll know exactly the book you want to pick up, but your to-be-read list might have grown a bit!

Here are all of the best books about Scotland. 

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Best books about Scotland

1. Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

First up is one of the best novels set in Scotland, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

This book quickly took the world by storm after it was released and soon became an international bestseller.

It’s essentially one of the best romance novels set in Scotland and mysteries set in Scotland. 

The book takes place over two time periods: 1945 and 1743. The main character, Claire Randall, accidentally gets sent back in time and gets swept up in a romance in the past while she was on a second honeymoon with her husband in the present.

If that sounds interesting, you’re in luck. It’s also an entire book series, and the TV show is on Starz, Amazon Prime and also on Netflix USA.


2. Lanark by Alasdair Gray

Next is Lanark by Alasdair Gray, one of the best books based in Scotland.

This book was published in 1981 but also quickly became pretty popular. It’s somewhat of fiction meets fantasy genre and doesn’t really fit in a specific category.

The story follows a man who has no memory of himself once he wakes up and ends up going on a trip to Unthank. Many people have drawn parallels between Unthank and Glasgow!

However, it’s hard to form relationships in his world, there’s no sunlight, and diseases are ravaging the country.


3. Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George

Mary Queen of Scots is one of Scotland’s most influential and unforgettable figureheads, so you’ll want to check out Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George. This is one of the greatest books about the history of Scotland.

It was published in 1992 and follows her entire life starting from when she was born and sent away for protection. Mary’s life is an interesting one, so this is one book that you won’t want to put down from start to finish.


4. Glasgow: The Autobiography edited by Alan Taylor

If you’re looking for books about Glasgow, you’re in luck. Glasgow: The Autobiography, edited by Alan Taylor, is a historical and cultural nonfiction anthology that was recently published in 2016.

Throughout the book, you’ll learn all about Glasgow through short stories.

Some topics include the Industrial Revolution and also the Second City of the British Empire.

Each tale is arranged in a certain timeline, so you won’t feel like a jumbled mess by the end. 

A lot of the authors are also locals from Glasgow whose families have been there for centuries.


5. Bizarre Scotland by David Long

One of the best fictions set in Scotland is Bizarre Scotland by David Long!

This is kind of a cultural nonfiction book all about David Long’s experience with Scotland and what he learned along the way.

The chapters are broken up depending on the subject, and if you’ve wanted to visit Scotland for a while, this is the perfect introduction for you.

You’ll learn all about Nessie, what the royals think of Scotland (according to David), and even the city in Scotland that welcomes aliens.


6. Findings by Kathleen Jamie

Findings by Kathleen Jamie is one of the books that take place in Scotland that’s kind of underrated.

It was released in 2005 and is a relatively short read, at only 190 pages or so, depending on the edition you purchased.

Kathleen Jamie is a poet herself, and throughout the book, you’ll learn all about her travels and findings during her trip to Scotland.

Plus, her writing is so strong that you will feel like you’re standing right next to her the entire time.


7. A History of Scotland by Neil Oliver

Next is A History of Scotland by Neil Oliver, who is a well-known traveller.

This book was published in 2009 and is a bit longer at just over 400 pages, and it’s considered a historical nonfiction novel.

In A History of Scotland, Oliver looks to right the wrongs that have scarred Scotland in the history books by showing that the country may have been more successful than you think.

Everything he says throughout the book is backed by the latest research on the country (at the time it was written).


8. Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie

Whisky Galore is a cultural fiction novel from the 1940s that takes place in Great Todday and Little Todday on the Western Isles of Scotland.

The story follows George Campbell during the war when the islands are struggling with food shortages.

However, as the name might imply, the worst shortage of them all is when the whisky was officially gone.

Then, a shipwreck near the coast ends up bringing something they might just have all needed.

This book was also made into a movie in 1949!


READ MORE: 22 Best Things to do on the Isle of Mull, Scotland

9. Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey by Madeleine Bunting

Love of Country: A Hebridean Journey by Madeleine Bunting is the best Scotland travel book to read if you want to learn more about the environment and natural history.

Published in 2016, this book covers the Hebrides and their positioning.

Throughout the novel, readers will learn all about their history, allure, and the landscape that makes people want to visit them.

Plus, it also covers the relationship of the island with the surrounding areas.


10. Wild Voices: Journeys Through Time in the Scottish Highlands by Mike Cawthorne

This book is one that really is not that well known but is a fascinating read when it comes to travel books about Scotland. Wild Voices: Journeys Through Time in the Scottish Highlands covers different stories, each accompanied by the ghost of a writer.

Each writer has their own philosophies and ideas, which are explored throughout the novel and its travels.

Topics include renewable energy, the environment, and even just nature in general. For a different read that’s underrated, check out Wild Voices.


11. At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

You may have heard of Sara Gruen before, and that’s because she’s also the author who penned Water for Elephants.

In At the Water’s Edge, readers follow Maddie and Ellis Hyde, who are cut off from their finances by their father in 1942. 

In order to get their father’s attention, Ellis decides to start hunting for the Loch Ness monster so that he can get back in his father’s good faith.

The story somewhat parallels another war going on at the same time, World War II. 


12. Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson is a memoir all about David Balfour.

The book takes place in the 1750s after he was kidnapped and what he did in order to survive. This is considered a classic fiction novel.

Many people love this book because of the relationship-building throughout it, which is a reason why it’s pretty highly rated online.

Plus, some of the conversations are even written in Olde Scottish, which just adds to the character building. 


13. At the Loch of the Green Corrie by Andrew Greig

A great historical fiction set in Scotland is At the Loch of the Green Corrie by Andrew Greig!

Published in 2010, this cultural read is only about 350 pages and is perfect for someone who likes more historical reads about a country.

Before MacCaig’s death, he commanded that he wanted people to fish for him at the Loch of the Green Corrie and speaks of a man named Normal MacAskill.

Many people found that the quest sounded easy, but soon a memoir unfolds all about the Highlands throughout the pages of the book.


14. Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell

Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell is a more quirky memoir and non fiction book on this list of the best books about Scotland!

It takes place in a small town called Wigtown and follows a man named Shaun Bythell, who owns The Bookshop.

Throughout the book, you’ll read all about the weird requests that Shaun gets while working at the shop and even about his Italian assistant, who enjoys digging for mud in the nearby river.

If you’ve ever worked in a bookshop before or have been curious about what it’s like to, then you’ll greatly enjoy and appreciate this novel.


15. Rebus’s Scotland: A Personal Journey by Ian Rankin

Rebus’s Scotland: A Personal Journey by Ian Rankin is one of the books set in Edinburgh that was published in 2005.

It’s a shorter read and is only a little over 100 pages, but that’s what makes it so easy to pick up and read in just one sitting.

Throughout the book, Rankin focuses more on the hidden part of Scotland or the parts that aren’t often talked about.

He primarily covers the different areas that were used as inspiration for the Inspector Rebus books.

Plus, there are many photos throughout the book that only make it more intriguing, making it one of the best books about Edinburgh.


READ MORE: Edinburgh 2-day itinerary: How to spend 2 days in Edinburgh, Scotland

16. Witch Light by Susan Fletcher

Don’t worry, of course; this book would also include some more fantasy and paranormal reads! Witch Light by Susan Fletcher was published in 2011 and is based around an actual event that took place in 1692.

The book surrounds the Massacre of Glencoe.

Basically, what happened during the massacre is that there were soldiers who were hanging out with a clan for around ten days, only to end up brutally massacring them in the end.

The entire story is told through different letters as well as Corrag.


17. The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

Another amazing historical fantasy that takes place in Scotland is The Lost Queen series by Signe Pike.

The first book goes by the same name of the series. It was recently published in 2018 and is a hefty read at just over 500 pages long.

It’s often been compared to Outlander and follows Languoreth while a new religion is gaining traction in Scotland.

It’s basically an Arthurian retelling, but the characters are so interesting that you’re not going to want to stop reading.


18. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

Anything written by Virginia Woolf is automatically a classic! This novel was published first in 1927 and is a bit shorter at only 200 pages.

It mostly takes place on the Isle of Skye, one of Scotland’s most beautiful places to explore.

It follows Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay and their children, who are vacationing on the Isle of Skye for some time.

Throughout the book, you’ll learn all about their travels while different conflicts and situations arise with an overarching theme of change.


19. Just Another Mountain: A Memoir of Hope by Sarah Jane Douglas

Another great book is Just Another Mountain: A Memoir of Hope by Sarah Jane Douglas, which was published in 2019.

The story follows Sarah, who lost her mom when she was just 24 years old to breast cancer.

Throughout the book, the reader follows Sarah as she follows in her mother’s footsteps and overcomes her own issues that she is dealing with as she gets diagnosed with the same cancer.

The novel itself is very interesting and is a one-of-a-kind memoir that will make you want to read it all in one sitting.


20. The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett

Last but not least is The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett is one of the best cultural-historical fiction novels set in Scotland.

It also has a twist of both fantasy and adventure genres throughout the pages.

It was published in 1961 and is a hefty book at just around 550 pages.

It takes place in 16th century Scotland and follows Francis Crawford of Lymond, who returns to Scotland only to find the country at a threat by the English. 


21. The Summer Isles, Philip Marsden

Ever felt the call of the wild Scottish isles? Let Philip Marsden, one of the greatest English travel writers, take you there in “The Summer Isles“.

His acclaimed mix of fiction and non-fiction brings the journey alive. Leaving his Cornwall home, Marsden sails to the Summer Isles, a quaint archipelago off Scotland’s coast.

This is no ordinary journey. Marsden is on a mission to follow the footsteps of Frank Fraser Darling, the esteemed ecologist and naturalist.

The result? A book that’s part adventure tale, part tribute to hidden gems like the Inner Hebrides.

Marsden’s voyage, aboard a sturdy wooden boat, may not inspire you to take up sailing – it gets quite choppy!

But his vivid descriptions and absorbing storytelling are sure to ignite a desire to explore Scotland’s west coast.

It’s not all about Scotland, though. Marsden deftly weaves in elements of Ireland and Celtic mythology, adding an extra layer of intrigue to this compelling travelogue.

“The Summer Isles” isn’t just a book, it’s an immersive cultural and geographical exploration.


22. Knots and Crosses, Ian Rankin

If you’re a fan of chilling mysteries and Scottish allure, you can’t miss “Knots and Crosses“, one of the most iconic mystery books set in Scotland and by far the best detective series set in Edinburgh.

Penned by Ian Rankin during his post-grad days at the University of Edinburgh, this novel inaugurates the thrilling Inspector Rebus series.

Set against the backdrop of historic Edinburgh, the story takes you through the city’s winding streets and hidden corners, including the charming neighbourhood of Marchmont.

The tale kicks off in 1985 with the grim murder of two girls, a case that lands on the desk of Inspector Rebus.

Perfect for crime novel aficionados with a curiosity for Edinburgh’s darker side, “Knots and Crosses” delves into the city’s grimmer tales with a clever plot and intricate storyline.

With Rebus at the helm, you’re in for a thrilling ride that’s both suspenseful and deeply rooted in Scotland’s capital city.

And the adventure doesn’t stop there. There’s a full series of books featuring Inspector Rebus, promising you countless hours of page-turning excitement.

So grab your detective hat, prepare for some goosebumps, and immerse yourself in the shadowy side of Scotland with this amazing book set in Edinburgh!


23. Mary Queen of Scots, Antonia Fraser

Calling all history buffs! If you’ve ever been curious about the charismatic figures of Scotland’s past, Antonia Fraser’s biography, “Mary Queen of Scots“, is a must-read.

Detailing the life of Mary Stuart, one of the world’s most famous queens, this book is a captivating journey through a turbulent period in Scottish history.

Mary’s life was anything but ordinary.

Crowned queen at just a week old, she navigated a whirlwind life that saw her abdicate in 1567, spend a significant part of her childhood in France, marry a French king, and eventually return to Scotland, only to be captured by Elizabeth I.

Her dramatic life culminated in her execution in 1587.

While there are several biographies of Mary Stuart, Fraser’s stands out for its engaging writing style, making it incredibly interesting and easy to read.

It peels back the layers of Mary’s life, often portrayed uniformly in films, revealing a wealth of fascinating details.

The book extensively covers her tenure as the queen of France, an aspect often overshadowed by her Scottish reign.

It also delves into her relationships and the many deeds that marked her rule.

This biography is an excellent choice for anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of Scotland’s history through the lens of one of its most intriguing figures.

So, prepare for a riveting deep-dive into the life of a queen who continues to captivate centuries after her reign!


24. Raw Spirit, Iain Banks

Fancy a Scottish adventure that involves more than just sightseeing? “Raw Spirit” by Iain Banks is the perfect literary companion.

Though Banks is primarily known for his sci-fi novels, this non-fiction work sees him taking a spirited spin around Scotland, exploring the heart and soul of its whisky culture.

Whisky in Scotland is more than just a drink. It’s a social glue, a lifestyle cornerstone, and an art form that binds the nation together.

As you journey with Banks across Scotland, you’ll be introduced to distilleries, off-the-beaten-path treasures, and the people who bring this “water of life” to fruition.

What makes “Raw Spirit” an intoxicating read isn’t just the topic, but the way it’s written.

Banks’ playful and entertaining style keeps you turning pages, much like fellow travel writer Bill Bryson.

It’s a captivating blend of travelogue, memoir, and whisky appreciation course, all rolled into one delightful dram of a book.

Whether you’re a whisky aficionado or not, “Raw Spirit” offers a unique perspective on Scotland that you will absolutely love.

It’s not just about the whisky, but the landscape, history, and people that make it.

So, raise a glass to Scotland’s favourite spirit and let “Raw Spirit” guide you through the peat-scented, golden-hued realm of Scottish whisky.


25. The Lewis Trilogy by Peter May

Have you ever heard of the Peter May books set in Scotland? Here they are!

Embark on a thrilling literary journey to Scotland with Peter May’s “The Lewis Trilogy”. Comprising three books – “The Blackhouse”, “The Lewis Man”, and “The Chessman” – this series offers nail-biting murder mystery tales set on the atmospheric Isle of Lewis, near Skye.

Our protagonist, Fin Macleod, is an Edinburgh-based inspector who finds himself drawn back to his birthplace on Lewis.

A mysterious corpse has been discovered, one that can’t be identified but whose DNA matches that of a local man who claims he has no siblings.

Macleod is then pulled into a gripping investigation to unravel the truth.

What sets this trilogy apart is its incredible balance of suspense and cultural exploration.

Not only will you be hooked by the tantalising plot, but you’ll also immerse yourself in Scotland’s rich Celtic heritage.

May’s vivid descriptions of the landscape, the local lore, and the daily life on Lewis create an immersive backdrop to the mystery, making you feel like you’re right there alongside Macleod.

Perfect for lovers of mystery and Scottish culture, “The Lewis Trilogy” is a suspenseful read that will keep you on the edge of your seat while transporting you to the rugged beauty of the Scottish isles.

Dive in and let Peter May’s storytelling magic whisk you away to the windswept shores of Lewis!


26. One Night in Edinburgh, Nina Kaye

Looking for contemporary romance novels set in Scotland?

One Night in Edinburgh” by Nina Kaye is just the ticket. This fun tale follows Steph, an Edinburgh local, who meets Jamie on Hogmanay – the Scottish New Year’s Eve.

She’s smitten, but there’s a catch – she forgets to get his number!

Armed with just the knowledge of his favourite drink, Steph embarks on a hilarious quest to find her mystery man.

When she finally finds Jamie, things are not as simple as they seem.

Despite his evident fondness for Steph, Jamie is holding back, harbouring a secret that could affect their budding romance.

This lighthearted rom-com keeps you guessing with unexpected twists and turns, all the while painting a vivid picture of Edinburgh’s charm.

The city’s lively atmosphere and pubs serve as the perfect backdrop for Steph and Jamie’s love story.

“One Night in Edinburgh” is more than just a love story; it’s an invitation to explore the enchanting city of Edinburgh.

As you turn the pages, you’ll almost hear the laughter-filled pubs, see the cobbled streets, and feel the excitement of Hogmanay.


27. The Highland Fling, Meghan Quinn

This is one of the rare romance novels set in the Scottish Highlands.

If you’re after a feel-good, laugh-out-loud read that encapsulates the charm of Scotland, look no further than “The Highland Fling” by Meghan Quinn.

This bestselling American author is known for her romantic comedies, and she definitely delivers with this one.

Our story follows Bonnie, an American who, along with her best friend, lands a job running a café in the Scottish Highlands.

The pair find themselves in the quaint town of Corsekelly, quickly falling in love with the rugged beauty of Scotland.

But it’s not just the scenery that catches Bonnie’s eye.

There’s also Rowan, a local who doesn’t exactly warm up to Bonnie straight away.

Their relationship starts off rocky, with plenty of banter and disagreements. What happens next? Well, that’s for you to find out!

The Highland Fling” is a perfect pick for those in search of an easy, feel-good read that’s sure to brighten your day.

As you follow Bonnie’s Scottish adventure, you’ll be laughing, sighing, and maybe even booking your own trip to the Highlands!


28. No Mean City, Alexander McArthur and H. Kingsley Long

Looking for books set in Glasgow?

No Mean City” by Alexander McArthur offers a vivid glimpse into a rarely explored part of Scotland’s past.

Published in 1935, this book takes you to the pre-war era of the Gorbals, one of Glasgow’s most infamous slums.

The story revolves around Johnnie Stark, the king of the razor gangs, offering a raw and unfiltered view of life in the slums.

It’s an eye-opening read that sheds light on the hardships faced by those living in poverty, detailing their struggles and the lengths they went to survive.

While it isn’t an easy read due to its stark portrayal of poverty, it’s an important one that uncovers a largely hidden side of Scottish history.

“No Mean City” is an ideal pick for history buffs keen to delve into the pre-war era.

It highlights an undiscussed aspect of Scottish history, providing a poignant contrast to the picturesque landscapes often associated with Scotland.

Brace yourself for an intense, insightful journey through the gritty streets of Glasgow with this classic novel.


29. Women of the Dunes, Sarah Maine

If you’re intrigued by the blend of archaeology and fiction set amidst the rugged beauty of Scotland, “Women of the Dunes” by Sarah Maine is an absolute must-read.

A successful novelist and archaeologist, Maine draws on her rich background to create a compelling narrative that spans centuries.

Set on the enchanting west coast of Scotland, specifically the mythical island of Ullaness, this book weaves together stories from three women living in different timelines.

Maine’s deep understanding of archaeology shines through, making the ancient treasures, murder mysteries, and romantic entanglements even more riveting.

“Women of the Dunes” is the third in Maine’s series set in Scotland, following “The House Between Tides” and “Beyond the Wild River”.

It’s an immersive read that offers a unique blend of mystery, romance, and history.

The layered narrative is richly detailed, reflecting Maine’s personal experience on excavation sites around the world.

Whether you’re a fan of archaeology, Scottish lore, or simply love a good mystery, “Women of the Dunes” promises a gripping journey through time, showcasing Scotland’s ancient myths and timeless allure.


I never knew that about Scotland, Christopher Winn

If you’re hunting for a captivating travel book about Scotland, look no further than “I Never Knew That About Scotland” by Christopher Winn.

This gem is an enchanting dive into the heart of Scotland’s culture and history.

Christopher Winn, an accomplished author, has penned this as part of the “I Never Knew That” series which meticulously explores various regions of the UK.

The first book in this series focused on England and it quickly climbed the ranks to become a best-seller.

Here’s a fun fact – this book series inspired the ITV travel series.

So, if you’re a fan of travel TV series, you’ll want to check that one out.

In “I Never Knew That About Scotland”, Winn narrates his journey across Scotland, sharing intriguing tales he gathered on his travels.

What makes this book special is how it blends knowledge and entertainment, making learning about Scottish history a real treat.

It’s packed with riveting stories, some well-known like the tale of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and others lesser known but equally fascinating, like the story of John Balliol.

Comprising of 288 pages, you’ll find this book a rapid, enjoyable read.


As you can see, there are tons of great books set in Scotland. You could spend the entire summer season reading all of these!

So, which book do you want to read most from this list?

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