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Terrell's Suggested Reading List for Scotland...
(well, Edinburgh and the Highlands, mostly. Glasgow, the Lowlands and the Islands will have to be another list)
Cadogan Guide to Scotland Cadogan's guides don't have many pictures, but I love their write-ups. They always include plenty of history, cultural items, insider tips and off-the-beaten-path suggestions along with selective lists of hotels and restaurants in a variety of budget options. And when you consider that they're writing about their own back yard here--it is a British-based company--you can see that their insider opinions really are insider opinions. Buy it here. P.S. I heard that Cadogan's parent company has been purchased by New Holland Publishers, makers of the Globetrotter guides. Hopefully, they'll keep the Cadogans as they are
Frommer's Edinburgh and Glasgow As I was revising this page, I was dismayed to see how many guides to Edinburgh (including the Cadogan) had either gone out of print or gone without updating for too long. If you can't wait until the new version of the Time Out guide comes out in February of 2010, then Frommer's is probably your best bet. Not that it's a bad guide, it just doesn't have much personality. Buy it here.
Thomas Cook's Drive Around Scotland We had a great time driving from Edinburgh up into the Highlands and, although I enjoyed taking the train, I have to say that I saw a lot more while we were driving. I'm just glad my brother didn't mind driving on the wrong side of the road. If you're not afraid either, I suggest this newly revised (March of '09) driving guide from British publisher Thomas Cook. Organized by region, it includes suggested driving routes and itineraries, places to stay and eat, plenty of color (or is that colour?) pictures, and background information on the things you're seeing. Buy it here.
Michelin Motoring Atlas for Great Britain and Ireland If you're going to be driving around, you'll need a good map. We actually used, and I prefer, the AA atlas but it's difficult to find in the US. (If you're thinking about ordering from Amazon, be sure to check the publication date before you buy. Most of the ones they're offering are from resellers and are not the current edition.) Personally, I'd wait and buy my atlas in the UK, but if you want one before you go, Michelin does a good job with theirs and it does get updated annually. If you want a folding map instead of an atlas, I'd go with the ones from Ordinance Survey. Their touring maps are excellent and their hiking/walking maps are definitely the map of choice for anywhere in England and Scotland. Buy the Michelin atlas here or contact Wide World Books & Maps about Ordinance Survey folding maps. They keep the touring maps and the most popular of the hiking maps in stock and can get you any of the more off-the-beaten-path ones usually within a few days.
Outlander by Diana Gabaldone I am an unabashed fan of this book. Just because it's a time-traveling historical romance with an incredibly dreamy, tall, red-haired, wisecracking leading man who makes all the girls swoon doesn't mean it can't be good. And really, it is good. Gabaldone has done a great job bringing the Scottish history of the Jacobean era (that's Bonnie Prince Charlie, you know) alive. I loved tracing Jamie and Claire's steps through Edinburgh on this trip. I was talking to a Scottish customer one day who told me that she thought Gabaldone (who lives in Scotsdale, Arizona) had done a great job not only with the history but with making the Scots actually sound like Scots. This is the first book in a multi-book series (I think she's up to five or six, now) but the story gets a bit weaker as they go on. The first two are my favorites but I usually read straight through the fourth one once I get started. Buy it here.
The Picador Book of Contemporary Scottish Fiction I found this great anthology at the Seattle library. I was looking for something by the younger generation of Scottish writers and came across the Picador Book of Contemporary Scottish Fiction. Itís got everybody. You'll find Ian Rankin, James Kelman, Duncan McLean, Irvine Welsh and lots more. Skip the very boring introduction and head straight to the stories. Good stuff if youíre interested in Scotland at all although I have to admit that a lot of the subject matter concerns being out of a job. It was published in the US as the Vintage Book of...but both editions are out of print now. You can look for a copy here.
The Naming of the Dead by Ian Rankin This is the penultimate of Rankin's award-winning mystery series set in Edinburgh and featuring the hard-drinking, heavy-smoking Inspector John Rebus. (The last, Exit Music, will be available in paperback in December of 2009) The series started 16 books ago with Knots and Crosses but it's entirely possible to read the books out of sequence and still get what's going on. Rankin loves Edinburgh and it shows. The books are littered with references to specific places, people and Scottish pop culture. I kept my computer handy as I was reading The Naming of the Dead so I could reference Wikipedia to find out what Irn-Bru is and consult iTunes for clips of songs by Rebus' favorite bands. To follow the hard-boiled detective around the country you can use the guide Rankin wrote, Rebus' Scotland or consult the interactive map on his website. Buy The Naming of the Dead here.
The Bruce Trilogy by Nigel Tranter More history in novel form, this time the story of Robert the Bruce and William Wallace told by "Scotland's Storyteller." Tranter, a native of Glasgow wrote more than 140 books, most of them either histories of Scotland or historical novels featuring the great characters of Scottish history. This particular book was originally in three volumes but in the states tends to come packaged in one thick paperback, all the better to carry up on to the castle walls with you as you travel. Buy it here.
page last updated August, 2009