Read Scotland 2018 discussion

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Mary Queen of Scots: 26-30+ > Katrina's Books

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message 1: by Katrina (last edited Jul 28, 2018 01:21AM) (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Throwing my hat in the ring pretty late on, but since I've been sort of challenging myself to read more Scottish books this year, I thought I'd make it official. I'm trying to lean toward lesser known authors and works for the most part, really found a couple of gems along the way.

Poetry pamphlets aside, I've listed everything I've read so far below. Also first time working with html for a long while so I'm not sure this will work:)


To be Continued by James Robertson

Ringan Gilhaize by John Galt

The Abbess of Crewe by Muriel Spark

Scottish History Without The Boring Bits

Gillespie by John Macdougall Hay

An Old Pub Near The Angel

Marriage by Susan Ferrier

On The Island by Iain Crichton Smith

Ten Tales Tall and True by Alasdair Gray

The Search by Iain Crichton Smith

Also currently reading these at the moment:

Jack and The Devil's Purse by Duncan Williamson

The Complete Short Stories by Muriel Spark

And The Land Lay Still by James Robertson


message 2: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments And the Land Lay Still

Just finished it. Possibly the right book at the wrong time.


message 3: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Jack and the Devil's Purse: Scottish Traveller Tales by Duncan Williamson

Entertaining enough collection of tales with a supernatural theme. Better dipped into over a period time than read continuously.


message 5: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Mary of Guise

Enjoyed it more than I thought I would.


message 6: by Tarissa (new)

Tarissa (inthebookcase) | 52 comments Wow! You've covered a lot of ground already this year. Good for you! I'll have to check into some of these titles myself.


message 7: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Tarissa wrote: "Wow! You've covered a lot of ground already this year. Good for you! I'll have to check into some of these titles myself."

Thanks:) Just come off a stretch where I just couldn't even look at a book. Feels like I'm making up for lost time, helps that I've not come across a genuinely terrible one yet.


message 8: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments The Complete Short Stories by Muriel Spark Nice range of 3 to 4 star stories in this collection. Probably best read by dipping into now and again to get the full impact of her writing.


message 9: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Of Rowan Tree and Pearl This is two collections, The Green Rowan and Fishing For Pearls by Margaret Gilies Brown and Kenneth C Steven respectively. Quite a few gems scattered throughout both collections that are poignant enough to deserve second and third readings.


message 10: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Far Inland by Peter Urpeth

Both powerful and poignant, Far Inland was an insightful look into Hebridean life over a couple generations, and with the sense of wonder there was also the hardship, and ultimately, a feeling of loss.

While I felt the book sagged a little in the middle a little, it quickly bounced back and left a huge impression on me. Going to have to add Urpeth to my list of authors to keep an eye on.


message 11: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Humphry Clinker

Really glad I read this.


message 12: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Hings by Chris McQueer

Promising enough debut by a young writer. Within the first 3-4 stories the tone and gist of the stories is crystal clear. Reads more like a BBC Scotland sketch show set in Glasgow, colliding with an Irvine Welsh novel. Amusing in some places but not really my thing, did struggle toward the end a little.


message 13: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments The City of Dreadful Night by James Thomson

Excellent read. Will probably be picking it up again around Halloween.


message 14: by Tarissa (new)

Tarissa (inthebookcase) | 52 comments Hmmm! The City of Dreadful Night might be interesting for me too... I'm glad you enjoyed some more stories by Murial Spark.

Keep going!


message 15: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Tarissa wrote: "Hmmm! The City of Dreadful Night might be interesting for me too... I'm glad you enjoyed some more stories by Murial Spark.

Keep going!"


I'd highly recommend him, although probably not that particular edition:)

Just started The Bachelors but it'll be a while before I finish it, I think.


message 16: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments That's Your Lot by Limmy

Had no idea who this was until very recently when I was reading through reviews of Hings by Chris McQueer and saw a few comparisons. Would agree with the comparisons and go as far as to say I think Limmy is the superior author out of the two. Very enjoyable collection, funny and relatable in some places. Thought the crowning jewel was the final story, Benidorm, which did feel slightly out of place given how dark it was, but the author's talent was very much on display.

Will be definitely be checking more of his work.


message 17: by Katrina (last edited Aug 14, 2018 12:55PM) (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Republics of the Mind: New and Selected Short Stories By James Robertson

Excellent short story collection varied in genre and tone.

A Voice from the Nile and Other Poems by James Thomson B.V

Worth the download for Insomnia alone.


message 18: by Katrina (last edited Aug 18, 2018 07:26AM) (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Miscellany Poems By Jane (Jean) Adams

Heavy and difficult read.


message 19: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Selected Short Stories by John Galt

Surprised by how versatile a writer Galt was. Solid 3.5


message 20: by Melanie (new)

Melanie | 103 comments Wow, that is an impressive list of books


message 21: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Melanie wrote: "Wow, that is an impressive list of books"

Really strong year for reading *knocks on wood* :)


message 22: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Destiny by Susan Ferrier

She does go on a bit. Bit more polished a writer since Marriage but the humour is really sorely missed. Will see how the part two pans out before casting final judgement.

Agnes Owens: The Complete Novellas

Can't believe Agnes Owens completely passed me by until very recently. Excellent collection of novellas with Working Mother and For the Love of Willie being the standouts. Will look out more of her works on the back of this.

Superb insight into working class life, full of wit and dark humour without coming across as condensing or needlessly gritty.


message 23: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Forkin (ellen_forkin) | 350 comments Mod
Katrina wrote: "Destiny by Susan Ferrier

She does go on a bit. Bit more polished a writer since Marriage but the humour is really sorely missed. Will see how the part two pans out before casting final judgement.
..."


I’ve never heard of Agnes Owens, she sounds awesome! I think it’s wonderful you’re going for less well known authors, will be checking your threads for ideas of my own challenge :)


message 24: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Ellen wrote: "I’ve never heard of Agnes Owens, she sounds awesome! I think it’s wonderful you’re going for less well known authors, will be checking your threads for ideas of my own challenge :) "

She's definitely worth a look if you find the time. Really feel she should be more well known than she is.

Half the fun of the challenge has been hunting them down:) Wish I'd done it sooner.


message 25: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Scottish War Poets

Four books anthologised by Palimpsest for the Scottish Lost Treasures Series which is dirt cheap and is nicely edited for the most part. Thought Mary Symon's inclusion was of note, can't remember coming across her before but her poems definitely added another angle to the anthology.

Last two collections are mostly in Scots so some readers may struggle a bit.

Autumn by Ali Smith

First time I've actually managed to finish a book by Smith. Don't know why, I feel I should really like her work but something just doesn't click for me. Probably would have liked it a bit better if not for the formatting, just finished another book previously which had a very similar style and it went to charming to annoying in a hurry.

Will probably give the second title in the series a go on the back of this.


message 26: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Destiny Vol 2 By Susan Ferrier

Part one was a much stronger book, I felt. As before I'll have to double down and say while well written, this really wasn't my genre at all. Very possible that someone who enjoys chaste historical romances/melodramas may get something out of this novel should they download a copy from Project Gutenberg or Internet Archive.

Rounding the story off to a very generous 3.


message 27: by Katrina (last edited Sep 08, 2018 09:31AM) (new)

Katrina | 50 comments The Man Who Wanted to Smell Books by Elspeth Davie

3.5 -Solidly entertaining collection of short stories with a slight dark humour through them. Can see a tiny bit of Muriel Spark if you squint. Thought Allergy was the standout story.

Rain by Don Paterson

3.5 - Had a strong sense of deja vu when I was reading some of the poems which made me wonder if this was a second reading. Very accessible collection of poetry by Paterson, but nothing standout or particularly memorable.


message 28: by Ellen (last edited Sep 08, 2018 10:16AM) (new)

Ellen Forkin (ellen_forkin) | 350 comments Mod
Katrina wrote: "The Man Who Wanted to Smell Books by Elspeth Davie

3.5 -Solidly entertaining collection of short stories with a slight dark humour through them. Can see a tiny bit of Muriel Spark if you squint. T..."


I really like the sound of the Elspeth Davie book :)


message 29: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Ellen wrote: "I really like the sound of the Elspeth Davie book :) "

Yeah, like Owens she completely passed me by. Pretty solid read.:)


message 30: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Winter by Ali Smith

Very well written, but I genuinely struggled to finish it. Not sure if it was because I'd come across too many books with that particular format, or that I have no capacity to be reading about Brexit in my fiction as well. Just didn't click.

Trackman by Catriona Child

Surprising and quirky find. Trackman is relatable, humorous, and moving in turns. Set in the centre of Edinburgh in the early naughties it was bit of a nostalgia trip for me as well.

Swim Until You Can't See Land
by Catriona Child


Picked this up on the back of Trackman. There were two solid novels struggling to get out of this novel. Didn't quite work for me as parallel and overlapping stories.


message 31: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Few more to add:

Wild Wanderings by Phil Gribbon

Not much of an outdoorsy person but I actually enjoyed a number of the stories in this book. Has a very conversational style and his insights and humour throughout are quite compelling.

Love is Blind by William Boyd

Very well written and researched, but unsurprising read.

Between the Monster and the Saint by Richard Holloway

Went to see Holloway talk years ago and was struck by what a genuinely lovely and well reasoned man he was. Thoroughly enjoyed this one. There's a lot of ideas in this book that don't always necessarily reach any type of conclusion but Holloway writes so well it wasn't really needed. Wasn't too heavy either.


message 32: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments But there's more:

Catalonia Reborn by Chris Bambery,
George Kerevan


(Scottish author) Decent read, but a bit too biased for my liking.

Conan Doyle for the Defence by Margalit Fox

Enjoyed it, overall. Will probably have to seek out a biography on Doyle on the back of it.

Choose Life, Choose Leith by Tim Bell

Probably a brilliant read if you're a huge Irvine Welsh fan. In my case I've got this weird cognitive dissonance where I both sort of like Trainspotting and have an intense hatred of it. Enjoyed the historical background of Central Station, which was the haunted house that lurked out the corner of your eye wandering down Leith Walk, and a place you were never, ever to go.

Fun fact. I was dared to go inside (back when I was very little) and half terrified I did. Later, that same day I managed to fall from a railing and landed on my head giving myself a hairline fracture in the process. Blamed that place for years. Another fun fact, is that Leith Central Station although demolished for decades still makes infrequent special guest appearances in my nightmares. Perhaps a bit, tmi though.


message 33: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments The Human Kind by Peter Dorward

Liked this more than I thought I would. Heart-wrenching and fascinating in turns. I liked Dorwards frankness.


message 34: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments The Book of Scotlands by Momus

Came out of it slightly disappointed but only because it wasn't the book I had in my head after reading the description. Bonkers read.


message 35: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments The Little Snake by A L Kennedy

Completely caught off guard by this novella. I'm usually a sucker for a good fable, but this is exceeded my expectations and some. Will probably have to give Kennedy another go on the back of it.


message 36: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments The Triumph Tree edited by Thomas Owen Clancy

Infinitely more enjoyable and accessible than I thought it would be when I first picked it up. Some of the poems have aged incredibly well considering when they were written. Crying shame it's out of print now.


Dark Encounters by William Croft Dickinson

A collection of paranormal short stories set in Scotland by Scottish based author and historian, William Croft Dickinson. The stories had a very classical feel and made for a nice gentle Halloween read. Liked it a lot.


message 37: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Forkin (ellen_forkin) | 350 comments Mod
Katrina wrote: "The Triumph Tree edited by Thomas Owen Clancy

Infinitely more enjoyable and accessible than I thought it would be when I first picked it up. Some of the poems have aged incredibly well considering..."


Dark Encounters sound perfect, I’m useless at horror, but like a bit spookiness. Will look out for this one :)


message 38: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Forkin (ellen_forkin) | 350 comments Mod
Wow! Just seen you’re up to 36 books! That’s awesome, Katrina :)


message 39: by Katrina (new)

Katrina | 50 comments Ellen wrote: "Katrina wrote: "The Triumph Tree edited by Thomas Owen Clancy

Infinitely more enjoyable and accessible than I thought it would be when I first picked it up. Some of the poems have aged incredibly ..."


Thanks Ellen! Dark Encounters is definitely worth a look if you ever find the time. Nice cosy chill - if that's even a thing.:)


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