Skip to Content

18 Best Books About Scotland For Fiction & Nonfiction Lovers

Travel across Europe with the best books about Scotland to take you there and teach you more.

If you are looking for books on Scotland to read before your trip or are hoping to do a little armchair traveling, we have just the reading list for you.

Along with books set in Scotland, find a variety of fiction and nonfiction Scotland books – set, about, and from there – for both adults and teens.

Some will showcase the beautiful Scottish scenery while others will introduce you to important historical figures.

Find discussions of immigration, the witch trials, and important moments in Scotland’s history. Plus, enjoy murder mysteries, LGBT novels, historical fiction, memoirs, and more.

So, what books about Scotland do we recommend?

Keep reading, and don’t forget to share your favorite book on Scotland – whether it be its people, small-town life, history, culture, food, and more – in the comments. Let’s get started!

If you love these books, you might also like these Scotland-themed movies.

Books About Scotland with image of green and brown cliffs with lighthouse jutting into bright blue sea with clouds in the sky
Travel across Europe with fantastic books about Scotland to read.

Grab your favorite Scotland books here:

1. Book of the Month: Get the month’s hottest new and upcoming titles from Book of the Month. You might snag an early release or debut author. Along with selecting a book a month, find terrific add-ons, both trendy and lesser-known titles.
2. Audible Plus: From Amazon, listen to Amazon Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks. They add new titles every week.
3. Amazon Prime: Don’t miss Amazon First Reads – early access to Kindle books. Get fast delivery as well as movies, music, Originals, shows, and more.
4. Or, start your trial of Amazon Video for movies and tv series on demand.

18 Best Books About Scotland

By Jeremy Paterson

Trumpet by Jackie Kay book cover with black and white circle images of person playing the trumpet

Trumpet by Jackie Kay

When Joss Moody, the legendary jazz trumpeter, passes away, his death exposes a secret previously known only to him and his wife, Millie.

Namely, that he was in fact biologically female, as revealed by the autopsy.

Not even Joss and Millie’s adopted son Colman knew about it, which proves to be disastrous when his disbelief crumbles into an indignant rage.

Wanting revenge for the “lie,” he agrees to tell all to a tabloid journalist hungry for a sensational topic for their new book.

Fleeing the turmoil, Millie returns to Scotland and her and Joss’ holiday home where, with the help of some old acquaintances, she revisits her memories of the man she knew and loved.

Trumpet is a moving story of family love, acceptance, and identity, as well as a poignant comment on the relentless hate of transphobia.

Scottish-Nigerian author Jackie Kay – writing with an informed view as an adopted child herself – gives authenticity and grace to aspects of Colman’s upbringing, as well as to the story overall.

This is one of the most moving books set in Scotland to cover the relationship of a son and their trans parent.

Find even more books about musicians, both fiction and nonfiction.

Read Trumpet: Amazon | Goodreads

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy book cover with person standing in middle of darker forest

Once There Were Wolves by Charlotte McConaghy

Inti Flynn is a biologist who, along with her twin sister Aggie, has recently arrived in the Scottish Highlands.

Although Inti is in Scotland to work, she also hopes the change of scenery will help heal her sister, who is suffering from trauma.

Inti has been tasked with reintroducing 14 gray wolves into the harsh environment in the hopes of helping the struggling local ecosystem naturally rebuild itself.

Against all odds, the wolves begin to prosper. But then a local farmer is found dead, and Inti knows suspicion will fall on her wolves. She makes a desperate decision to protect them.

Once There Were Wolves is one of the most beautifully written books about Scotland and is also a tribute to the stunning Scottish landscape.

The novel is full of such lush descriptions of the forests, the wildlife, and the Highlands in general that you’ll feel like you’re there with Inti.

Read Once There Were Wolves: Amazon | Goodreads

A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll book cover with illustrated person's head with large pink and blue hair strands with sharks in between

A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll

One day during class, 11-year-old Addie learns something gruesome about her small Scottish town from her teacher Ms. Murphy.

Centuries ago, when women across the country were being burned to death during the witch trials, some supposed “witches” were burned in the very town she lives in today.

But this doesn’t sit well with Addie. As an autistic girl, she knows what it’s like to be considered different from everyone else and to be picked on as a result.

She thinks that these burned “witches” were just misunderstood, like her. Different, like her.

Addie decides something needs to be done to rectify this injustice, and she makes it her mission to see that these mistreated figures from history get the recognition they deserve.

First-time author and fellow neurodivergent Elle McNicoll puts the reader right into Addie’s mind and does a great job showing the world through her eyes.

A Kind of Spark is one of the best middle-grade books on Scotland – and witches – for anyone looking to experience the world from a neurodivergent viewpoint.

If witch trials interest you, explore these books about the Salem Witch Trials in the U.S.

Read A Kind of Spark: Amazon | Goodreads

The Translator by Leila Aboulela book cover with cityscape, blue water, bridge, and boat

The Translator by Leila Aboulela

It’s one thing to lose your partner; it’s another to do so in an unfamiliar and distant land. But that’s what has happened to Sammar, a young Sudanese widow living in Aberdeen.

Now that her husband has died, life has become especially lonely, especially since her son has returned home to Khartoum.

While Sammar becomes increasingly depressed and despondent, hope is rekindled when she begins to work and translate for Rae, a Scottish scholar specializing in Islam.

The two develop a relationship that moves towards the romantic, but Sammar knows that eventually, they will have to address an impending obstacle.

Namely that while Sammar is a devout Muslim, Rae does not have the faith that she does. Soon Sammar may have to choose between her beliefs and the one she loves.

Told with a restraint that empowers the emotion of the novel rather than detracting from it, The Translator is one of the books about Scotland that will resonate with anyone who has settled abroad.

Read The Translator: Amazon | Goodreads

Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu by Maisie Chan book cover with illustrated people in casual dress jackets dancing with street and car behind them

Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu by Maisie Chan

Ever since her parents died not long after she was born, 12-year-old Lizzie Chu has lived with her Wai Gong (grandfather) in Glasgow.

Lately, though, Wai Gong has been acting strangely; he seems to be becoming more forgetful, and he spends a lot of his time talking to his statue of Guan Yin, the Chinese goddess of kindness and compassion.

He doesn’t even seem to enjoy their favorite TV show – Strictly Come Dancing – as much anymore.

But what sends things over the edge is when Lizzie’s friend Chi turns up at their house in fancy dress as Princess Leia from Star Wars.

When he sees her, Wai Gong thinks that Chi is the actual Guan Yin!

But then Lizzie gets an idea. Wai Gong has always wanted to go to the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool, and now might be the perfect time to take him.

It’s only 200 miles to the south – what could possibly go wrong?

This is one of the most heartwarming Scotland books set in Glasgow you can find, and a great read for fans of unconventional road trip novels.

Read Keep Dancing, Lizzie Chu: Amazon | Goodreads

Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware book cover with black keyhole and title in it

Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

In this modern retelling of The Turn of the Screw, former nanny Rowan is in prison for the death of a child under her care.

The book is told entirely through very detailed letters that Rowan writes to a lawyer while awaiting trial.

These letters include everything that happened, starting from the time she applied for and accepted the job.

Rowan is surprised to arrive at a remote Scottish home fully fitted with smart technology, and even more surprised to find out most of the former nannies didn’t stay long.

Although, as she soon learns, the children aren’t exactly the angels she was promised. Nor is she happy about being mostly left alone for weeks at a time with them.

And soon even weirder – possibly paranormal – things start to happen that have Rowan fearing for her life.

Is Rowan responsible for the death under care? And if not, can Rowan unravel the mystery before it’s too late?

Turn of the Key is one of the most popular books about Scotland, with great descriptions of Rowan’s surroundings.

The remoteness of the home will make you feel like you’re trapped there with her!

Read Turn of the Key: Amazon | Goodreads

The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong book cover with black and white image of people with arms interlocked around backs and yellow title

The Young Team by Graeme Armstrong

Life on the streets of North Lanarkshire is fraught with gang fighting, drug taking, and murder. For 14-year-old Azzy Williams, it’s just part of the day-to-day.

As part of the Young Team gang, he’s ready and looking forward to getting involved as much as he can.

He’s out to smoke, drink, pop pills, and deal out some much-deserved violence against anyone who goes against him and his loyal brethren.

But a life lived twice as hard will last half as long, and once Azzy has grown up, he’s now ready to leave it all behind … if he can.

Based on the life and experiences of author Graeme Armstrong, The Young Team shines a light on what can happen when a young person decides to live their life to excess.

There’s no Wolf of Wall Street style embellishments and glorification to the proceedings, however.

Armstrong includes no glamorization of drugs; just honesty about what they can do to a person and a community.

Anyone looking for books on Scotland that go in-depth into the darker side of Scottish youth culture will have a lot to experience and appreciate here.

For an extra immersive experience, the book is also written in phonetic Scottish.

Read The Young Team: Amazon | Goodreads

Stranded by Sarah Goodwin book cover with empty boat on shore

Stranded by Sarah Goodwin

When shy botanist Maddy signed up to participate in a survival reality TV show, she never could have imagined just how spectacularly wrong things could go.

The premise of the show was simple: What would happen if the world ended and these eight people found refuge on a remote island off the coast of Scotland?

All they need to do is make it for a year, and there will be cameras on them the whole time.

There are also two cameramen hidden away on the island, and they start out with a cache of helpful resources.

Each of the eight has unique skills that are essential for survival in a potential apocalypse, especially if they can learn to work together.

But from the minute Maddy arrives on the island, there is tension between the four men and four women – and much of it seems directed at Maddy.

So what exactly happens between the time they are dropped off and over a year later when Maddy is found wandering around on the mainland in rags?

Stranded is an action-packed survival thriller that shows some of the worst sides of humanity. Scotland books don’t get twistier than this!

Uncover even more riveting survival books. Or, travel to new islands with this reading list.

Read Stranded: Amazon | Goodreads

Whirligig by Andrew James Greig book cover with gears that are acting like leaves in tree

Whirligig by Andrew James Greig

The peaceful atmosphere of a small Highland town is brutally interrupted one day when the body of a local gamekeeper is found hanging from a tree.

But what at first glance looks like a cut-and-dry suicide soon reveals itself to be much more complex when the body is found snared in the same manner as the rabbit hanging beside him.

This is the beginning of a spree, conducted by someone who seems to enjoy playing games with both those they prey upon and those who are dispatched to stop them.

What else could be meant by the intricate clockwork mechanisms left at each crime scene; the ones made of wood and bone?

DI James Corstophine – still grieving from the loss of his wife to cancer – is the leader of a team of police on the trail of this killer.

But time is running out, and seemingly everyone in this tight-knit town wants to keep things to themselves.

While it may get a little gory at times, don’t let that put you off, because this tight and twisty thriller is one of the most enjoyable noir books about Scotland for detective fiction fans.

Read Whirligig: Amazon | Goodreads

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh book cover with black and white image of people looking at viewer

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Trigger warnings for strong language, hard drug use, infant death, and more

In the squalor of the 1990s Edinburgh heroin scene, frequent users Renton, Spud, and Sick Boy spend their time watching videotapes, arguing, and getting high.

They also occasionally socialize with Tommy – who has never tried heroin – and “Franco” Begbie, a violent psychopath who frequently starts fights with those who anger him.

As increasingly chaotic events affect their lives, they variously try to kick the habit and get clean with varying degrees of success.

Can any of these unfortunate “Skag Boys” find release, redemption, and a happy life?

Undeniably one of the most famous Scottish books ever written, Trainspotting rightly comes with quite a reputation and a severe warning for sensitive readers.

Written in extremely strongly accented phonetic Scots, this non-linear, stream-of-consciousness literary achievement is something that has to be experienced to be fully understood.

Even if you only experience it once.

If you enjoy this famous book on Scotland and Scottish life and the working class, try even more iconic books published in the 1990s.

Read Trainspotting: Amazon | Goodreads

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley book cover with snowy front lawn, building in the background, and red title

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

Every year, a group of friends meets up after Christmas to celebrate New Year’s.

This year, they’re off to a remote yet cozy estate in the Scottish Highlands. It’s quiet and idyllic, and it’s a good thing they arrived before the snowstorm that cuts them off from civilization.

Unfortunately, when New Year’s Day rolls around, it appears that one of them is dead.

These people met at university, but now they’re all in their thirties; old tensions and half-forgiven slights can only be carried for so long before something snaps.

One of these “friends” is a killer, and the race is on to find out who it is before more bodies hit the floor.

Those looking for tense books on Scotland will enjoy author Lucy Foley’s thrilling whodunnit, as will fans of the isolated murder mystery genre.

Uncover even more books set during winter.

Read The Hunting Party: Amazon | Goodreads

Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes book cover with lips and face through torn orange cover

Scabby Queen by Kirstin Innes

Clio Campbell, Scottish folk singer and political activist, is dead. Moreover, she committed suicide, and she did it in the spare bedroom of her long-suffering friend Ruth.

Having started off as a one-hit-wonder in the early 90s, Clio’s public image has taken a battering in recent years, thanks to the tabloid press.

However, with her death, she is once again thrust into the public eye, this time as a heroine of politically charged and disruptive times.

But who was the real Clio Campbell?

And why was she treated like a Scabby Queen; a card game where the queen gets passed round and round as everyone tries to discard her as quickly as possible?

Covering events from across the United Kingdom but covering some key moments for modern Scotland, we learn about Clio from those who both loved and hated her the most.

From the Scottish independence referendum and Brexit to protest groups in Brixton and the 2001 G8 riots in Genoa, Scabby Queen covers five decades of British history.

Author Kirstin Innes has created one of the most vivid characters to appear in books about Scotland in recent times, with a supporting cast to match.

Read Scabby Queen: Amazon | Goodreads

Rizzio by Denise Mina book cover with white sword on yellow background

Rizzio by Denise Mina

Delving into an as-yet unsolved historical crime, Rizzio is the fictionalized story of the abrupt end of the life of David Rizzio, private secretary to Mary Queen of Scots.

During the night of March 9th, 1566, David Rizzio was forcibly removed from Mary’s chamber and stabbed 56 times by a group of unknown assassins.

Those responsible allegedly threatened the life of the heavily pregnant Mary and her soon-to-be-born child as they dragged Rizzio away.

Author Denise Mina dramatizes this historical crime in her brutal and thrilling novella, straying away from the usual trope of romanticizing 16th-century Scotland in favor of grim realism.

This is a punchy and impactful period crime story, and while it’s one of the shortest books about Scotland on this list, it will leave a lasting impression.

Read Rizzio: Amazon | Goodreads

Hear No Evil by Sarah Smith book cover with hand open but image of face in hand

Hear No Evil by Sarah Smith

Glasgow, 1817: When Jean Campbell is witnessed throwing a child from the Old Bridge into the River Clyde, she is immediately taken into custody and imprisoned in the Edinburgh Old Tolbooth.

Even though the river is searched, no trace of the child is found and the authorities struggle to communicate with Jean due to her being deaf and not uttering a word.

Put on the case is Robert Kinniburgh, a teacher from the Deaf & Dumb Institution.

His job is to determine if Jean is fit for trial. If she is, it means either execution if guilty or life in an insane asylum otherwise.

Gradually he and Jean find a means to communicate, and Kinniburgh gradually realizes that there’s more than meets the eye in this supposedly open-and-shut case.

While she herself is not deaf, author Sarah Smith worked closely with deaf sensitivity readers and conducted thorough research into this historic real-life case in order to make sure the deaf representation is accurate.

Based on real historic case law from early 1800s Scotland, this is not only one of the most engaging books set in Edinburgh but one of the best books about Scotland overall.

Read Hear No Evil: Amazon | Goodreads

Join The Uncorked Reading Challenge Today

Travel around the world with the Uncorked Reading Challenge. Get the best book and movie recs straight to your inbox. Sign Up Now.

Daisy on the Outer Line by Ross Sayers book cover with orange circle with white dots inside as a circle and gray inner circle with two white arrows, one pointing up and the other down

Daisy on the Outer Line by Ross Sayers

It seems like a nightmare situation to make a scene in public and then pass out drunk while waiting for public transport.

But that’s exactly what Daisy does, except her public scene happens to be at her stepdad’s funeral, which only makes things worse.

Strangely, though, her memories of the previous day are not her top priority right now because she appears to have woken up on the Glasgow subway in someone else’s body.

To top it off, she’s traveled back in time as well!

It seems as though she’s being made to make up for her selfish and destructive behavior by having to save the life of another.

The only problem is, she doesn’t know who, or how to go about it.

This metaphysical sci-fi Scottish YA is not one of your typical Scotland books set in Glasgow, but it is a lot of fun.

While Daisy starts off badly, she is still relatable – even before she starts learning how to be a better human.

Discover even more fun time travel books.

Read Daisy on the Outer Line: Amazon | Goodreads

Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan book cover with image of housing building and orange leaves swirling around

Luckenbooth by Jenni Fagan

On a small, unnamed island in the North Sea, Jessie Macrae and her father have a falling out.

This disagreement is so impactful that Jessie hops straight into a boat and rows her way down to the shores of Edinburgh, seemingly in search of a new life.

Only a few details make this escape remarkable:

1. She rows for 3 straight days
2. Her boat is actually a coffin that she was forced to sleep in by her father
3. Her father is The Devil

After making landfall in Scotland’s capital city, Jessie finds herself at No. 10 Luckenbooth Close – a towering 9-floor tenement building.

When Jessie enters into a pact with one of the occupants, the consequences cause a curse to fall on the building that will last one hundred years… and affect everyone who comes to dwell there.

Author Jenni Fagan takes the reader through 9 decades of residents and occult occurrences in one of the most creative and imaginative books about Scotland that fantasy fans will love.

If you enjoy Luckenbooth, find even more books with ghosts.

Read Luckenbooth: Amazon | Goodreads

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart with black and white image of adult and child snuggling in bed with pillows

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart

By far one of the most famous books about Scotland, Shuggie Bain is the story of the eponymous Hugh “Shuggie” Bain.

Shuggie is a young Glaswegian from a working-class family struggling to survive in poverty-stricken Thatcher-era Britain.

He is the youngest of three children, all of whom are burdened by their mother Agnes’ alcoholism.

However, as the youngest, Shuggie is left to pick up the pieces when his brother and sister leave home; the pain of which is exacerbated when he is bullied for being effeminate.

The book spans both the 80s and 90s, covering Shuggie’s childhood and adolescence as well as his own struggles to get away from home and make it on his own.

Shuggie Bain is a heartbreaking queer coming-of-age book and provides a peek into a time many have forgotten.

Readers should be aware that although the book is written in English, the dialogue is in phonetic Scots.

Read Shuggie Bain: Amazon | Goodreads

Duck Feet by Ely Percy book cover with facade of brown building and windows

Duck Feet by Ely Percy

In this coming-of-age drama, we follow the lives of 12-year-old Kirsty Campbell and her friends as they navigate the trials and tribulations of growing up in Paisley, Scotland.

We are taken through their most formative teenage years as they move up school grades, encountering the harsh realities of bullying, sexuality, drugs, and teenage pregnancy.

But with the lows also come the highs, as each member of the group gets closer to working out who they are and finding a place for themselves in the world.

For books about Scotland, Duck Feet is a well-realized and immersive celebration of working-class life.

Author Ely Percy uses phonetic Scottish to draw the reader in and make them feel like part of the community, which can be jarring for first-time readers but adds to the authenticity and charm.

Read Duck Feet: Temporarily Out Of Print (but keep checking) | Goodreads

Save The Best Books On Scotland For Later:

Books On Scotland Pinterest pin with image of brown cliff with bright green grass and bright blue water with clouds in sky and book covers for Daisy on the Outer Line, The Turn of the Key, Hear No Evil, The Young Team, Once There Were Wolves, Scabby Queen, Luckenbooth, Keep Dancingg Lizzie Chu
Did you find a new book on Scotland to read? Save this list for later, and read around the world with The Uncorked Librarian.

Grab your favorite books about Scotland here:

1. Book of the Month: Get the month’s hottest new and upcoming titles from Book of the Month. You might snag an early release or debut author. Along with selecting a book a month, find terrific add-ons, both trendy and lesser-known titles.
2. Audible Plus: From Amazon, listen to Amazon Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks. They add new titles every week.
3. Amazon Prime: Don’t miss Amazon First Reads – early access to Kindle books. Get fast delivery as well as movies, music, Originals, shows, and more.
4. Or, start your trial of Amazon Video for movies and tv series on demand.

Jeremy Paterson Bio picture with white male with long redish-brown hair wearing a gray hat and dark shirt in front of laptop with bookshelf in the background

Thank you to TUL contributor, Jeremy Paterson

Jeremy (pronouns: any) is an autistic writer, hobbyist, and movie buff, as long as that movie is Labyrinth. Since leaving the corporate world behind in 2018, he has read more books than he thought possible. True to his British upbringing, his first instinct in any given situation is to put the kettle on.

Which Scotland books – from, about, and set there – have you read?

Which books about Scotland have you read and enjoyed? Are there any that you recommend for our always-growing TBR pile?

P.S. This Scotland book list pairs well with our 2023 Fall Reading Challenge.