Rampant Scotland Directory - Books From and About Scotland

Rampant Scotland Directory!

Scottish Bookstore US Edition

Here is a selection of books on Scottish-related subject chosen from my own library and available for purchase, mainly via Amazon.com in USA. They were bought to help me respond to the many questions posed by users of the Rampant Scotland site and range from such titles as "Castles of Scotland" to "Why Did the Haggis Cross the Road?" and cover a wide range of factual and entertaining Scottish-related books.

NOTE: For Canadian-based readers, there is an equivalent page linking to Amazon Canada.

NOTE: There is also a parallel UK Bookstore page utilising In Association with Amazon.co.uk. for UK based readers.

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Selected Books - available via Amazon.com and other sources.

    Blue Guide Scotland, Twelfth Edition (Blue Guides)
    Elspeth Wills
    A comprehensive, detailed tourist guide to Scotland. No glossy pictures, just lots of descriptive text so you don't miss anything on your journey round Scotland.

    Castles of Scotland
    Martin Coventry
    The definitive book on Scottish castles with around 2,000 locations listed and lots of black and white illustrations. Useful sections on ghosts and family names associated with particular castles.

    Central Glasgow: An Illustrated Architectural Guide
    Charles McKean, David Walker & Frank Walker
    A prolifically illustrated guide to the many wonderful buildings in the City of Glasgow produced by the Royal Institute of Architects in Scotland. With black and white illustrations of many of the buildings and giving the history of the city's architectural gems. With this book as a companion, you will keep looking up as you go round Glasgow and see the city from a fresh perspective.
    206 pages, paperback.

    Century of the Scottish People, 1830-1950
    Prof T C Smout
    A detailed social history of Scotland, written in a readable style and full of facts and figures to back up the opinions. See also "History of the Scottish People 1560-1830".

    Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland
    John and Julia Keay
    The definitive encyclopaedia of Scotland. 1,000 pages on every aspect of the country, its people and its history. Everyone can be an expert on Scotland with this book by their side.
    You can read my extended review of this book.

    Daily Telegraph Castles & Ancient Monuments of Scotland
    Damien Noonan
    Extensive guide to visting castles and other historic sites in Scotland with lots of colour illustrations and maps. It covers around 200 locations across Scotland that are open to the public and is divided into specific areas, making it easier to plan your visits.
    192 pages, paperback.

    Edinburgh: An Illustrated Architectural Guide
    Charles McKean
    One of a series of books from the Royal Institute of Architects in Scotland, it covers all the main historical buildings in Scotland's capital city with with over 600 black-and-white and colour illustrations and detailed text describing each location. The first edition of this book was described as "the best architectural guide to any city in the UK." The second edition has been expanded and includes some colour illustrations.
    236 pages, paperback. (When the link was last checked Amazon only had second copies of this book).

    Eilean Dubh: The Black Isle
    Andrew Dowsett, James A Moore, Russell J Turner
    A book of glorious pictures of Eilean Dubh: The Black Isle, by three professional Black Isle photographers. You can flick through the pages of all the pages (in thumbnail format) to preview the delights inside at Russell Turner's Web site. Not often you can see all the pages of an illustrated book on-line!
    120 pages, paperback

    Handfast Handfast: Scottish Poems For Weddings And Affirmations
    The Scottish Poetry Library (SPL) has been a major source of the poems and songs which have appeared over the years in the Scottish poetry and songs section of Rampant Scotland. Now Lizzie MacGregor, assistant librarian at the SPL, has published a book of Scottish poems for weddings and affirmations entitled "Handfast" (the Scots word for betrothal or engagement by the joining of hands). It's a lovely book, full of well selected wee gems. Lizzie has collected a great mixture of "something old, something new" ranging from an extract from a 15th century manuscript, through Burns to present-day writers.

    Handsel Handsel: Scottish Poems for Welcoming and Naming Babies
    Lizzie MacGregor
    Another great book by Lizzie MacGregor, assistant librarian at the Scottish Poetry Library (SPL). With her expert knowledge, she has produced a great selection of Scottish poems celebrating the arrival of a baby or to help in the naming of the new arrival. So whether you have just become a parent or you want to give an appropriate gift to someone who has just had a "bairn", here is a joyous and thoughtful book. Handsel is the Scots word for gift intended to bring good luck, after all!

    Heritage of Scotland: A Cultural History of Scotland & Its People
    Nathaniel Harris
    A comprehensive and well illustrated cultural history of Scotland and its people. 160 pages. Large format hardback.

    Highland Homecomings: Genealogy and Heritage Tourism in the Scottish Diaspora
    Paul Basu
    This book explores the cultural connections between people of Scottish descent throughout the world, with their Mother country. It explores the journeys people with Scottish ancestry, who are now dispersed throughout the world, make to the Scottish Highlands and Islands to undertake genealogical research and seek out sites associated with their forebears. Through these genealogical journeys, individuals are able to construct meaningful self-narratives from the ambiguities of their diasporic migrant histories, and so recover a more secure sense of home and self-identity.

    His Captive
    Diana Cosby
    This is a first historical novel by American writer Diana Cosby - but it won't be her last. She writes with pace about turbulent times on the Scottish/English border about a Scot who kidnaps an English titled lady and holds her to ransom - and as a pawn in his quest to avenge his father's murder. Although there is an inevitability about these two falling in love (it is a romantic drama, after all), Diana Cosby writes in a way that captures your attention. It's a testament to the quality of the writing that you want the (somewhat steamy) entanglement of the two characters to work out in the end.

    A History of the Scottish People 1560-1830
    Prof T C Smout
    Prof Smout is an Englishman and some of his interpretations of Scottish history are not always palatable to Scottish readers. But his views are backed up with historical references and facts and are highly regarded. See also "History of the Scottish People 1830-1950".

    The Hogmanay Companion
    Hugh Douglas
    Origins and traditions of the festival Scotland gave the world, plus recipes, drinks, toasts, songs - and how to cope with the morning after! 163 pages. Paperback.

    Hoots: an Anthology of Scottish Comic Writing
    Edited by Susie Maguire and David Jackson Young
    An entertaining collection of prose and poetry ranging from Chic Murray to Ludovic Kennedy and Irvine Welsh. There is Tom Morton's memories of miserable midge-ridden holidays and Angus Dreichmore's Christmas on a croft. The Scots like to laugh as they suffer!
    You can read my extended review of this book.

    How the Scots Invented the Modern World
    Arthur Herman
    This book is subtitled (in North America) as "The True Story of How Western Europe's Poorest Nation Created Our World and Everything in It". In the UK, the hyperbole is toned down a bit to "The Scottish Enlighteenment: The Scots' Invention of the Modern World". Herman has been professor of history at both George Mason and Georgetown Universities and is also the Co-ordinator of the Smithsonian Western Heritage Program. He points out that after the Union of the Scottish and English parliaments in 1707, there were many who thought that this would lead to the decline of Scottish Culture. Indeed many educated Scots of the time tried to get rid of their local accents and referred to Scotland as "North Britain". So the flowering, a few decades later, of what became known as "The Scottish Enlightenment" is even more remarkable. That was a time when Scottish thinkers such as David Hume and Adam Smith established the basis of modern politics, economics morals and cultural life and Sir Walter Scott redefined (with a certain amount of literary licence) what it was to be a Scotsman. Their ideas gave inspiration to the American Revolution and, combined with the indigenous Scottish Presbyterian work ethic and inventiveness, put Scotland at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. For many reasons, Scots were also at the forefront of the expansion of the British Empire both as soldiers and administrators. If you are looking for arguments to demonstrate the contribution that Scots and those of Scots descent have made to the world, you'll find some bonnie bullets in this book!

    392 pages, hardback and paperback.

    I Never Knew That About Scotland
    Christopher Winn
    A collection of information that is full of surprises and hidden gems about Scotland. Divided into sections by county (those that existed until 1974, that is)and illustrated with delightful line drawings. This is a book to browse through and learn more about Scotland and the Scots.
    276 pages, hardback.

    In Search of Scotland
    Edited by Gordon Menzies
    Based on a BBC Scotland TV series which was a welcome antidote to English-biased history documentaries. The book is well illustrated with a good selection in both colour and black and white. In addition to chapters on the origins of the Scottish people and their wars, it covers aspects such as the Scots in Europe and the contribution of the Scots in the modern world. Each chapter has a different contributor and is edited by the producer of the TV series.

    In Search of Scotland
    H.V. Morton
    Incredible to think that a travel book first published in 1929 should still be as popular and as fresh as this one. I first took this book from my father's bookshelf many years ago and recently bought my own copy. While the style is perhaps a bit dated (though the prose is often worth quoting and the book is hard to put down), the wealth of information gives a fresh insight into many areas of Scotland and its history. Paperback. 337 pages.

    Handfast Lament: Scottish Poems for Funerals and Consolation
    Lizzie MacGregor
    Lizzie MacGregor, assistant librarian at the Scottish Poetry Library (SPL), has published a book of Scottish poems on a number of subjects and this one provides a wonderful selection of poems which give comfort at times of loss and grieving. Most of us find it difficult to express ourselves on such occasions. Just as the lament of the Scottish bagpipes can provide a unique musical tribute, the warmth and gentleness of Scots words give solace at a difficult time. And of course poets often seem more be able to find the right words to match our feelings and emotions.

    Land Lines
    Moira Burgess
    Land Lines is a beautifully illustrated book offering the reader the ultimate literary tour of Scotland. It is an illustrated journey through the landscape and literature of Scotland, with specially commissioned photographs by Marius Alexander and Paul Basu. This book is for Scots everywhere, visitors passing through and for all who appreciate great Scottish writing, captured with the beauty of the land that has inspired it.
    You can read an extended illustrated review of this book.

    Laugh Scotland!
    Allan Morrison
    The dust-jacket of this book of Scottish humour declares "It's a wee hoot" but they are being unduly modest for Allan Morrison has done it again. Already the author of Cummoangetaff! (The Adventures of Big Aggie MacDonald, the Glasgow Tramcar Clippie), Haud Yer Wheesht: Your Scottish Granny's Favorite Sayings Oor Wee School1: Wis a Rare Wee School! (Classroom Capers from Scottish Schoolchildren) and Ye Cannae Shove Yer Granny Aff a Bus!': Scots Grandchildren on Their Grannies Allan Morrison has produced a large compendium of Scottish-related jokes. The subject matter covers the expected areas - kilts, bagpipes, Scots at worship, football, golf, prudence and money, Scottish history plus the Scottish parliament, police - and the English. But unlike other books of its type, it has a large proportion of new humour rather than some of the old chestnuts.

    Luckenbooth: An Edinburgh Poetry Anthology
    Edited by Lizzie MacGregor
    This collection of poems about many aspects of Edinburgh has obviously been edited by someone who has fallen in love with Scotland's capital city. There are works by the likes of Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott, but there is also a focus on 20th century authors - as we would expect from Lizzie MacGregor, an assistant librarian at the Scottish Poetry Library. Readers may be find some old friends, such as Ferguson's "Auld Reekie", but with a knowledgeable editor at the helm, there's plenty of new poetry too. The light-hearted "Peevers in Parliament Square", for example, is a joy.

    The Mark of the Scots: Their Astonishing Contributions to History, Science, Democracy, Literature
    Duncan A Bruce
    A comprehensive survey of the contribution made by Scots from science to arts and politics to exploration. Full of facts and information about all the Scots who have made their mark on the world.

    The Orkney Guide Book
    Charles Tait
    A glorious book full of information and pictures of these Northern isles. As Charles Tait is a professional photographer, the book is full of great photographs. The text is informative and provides a lot of Historical background as well as current information. It has everything you need to know about Orkney and over 500 photographs and maps. After a virtual reality visit to Orkney via these pages you may be encouraged to visit these northern isles for real - I know that I was!
    255 pages, paperback.

    Picts and the Scots
    Lloyd and Jenny Laing
    Explanations about the origins and culture of the earliest inhabitants of Scotland. Lots of (mainly) black and white illustrations of the sculptured stones and sites.

    Pronouncing and Etymological Dictionary of the Gaelic Language
    Malcolm MacLennan
    If the little pocket dictionaries are not sufficient for your needs then this one, with a guide to pronouncing the words and giving their origins is just for you.

    The Rough Guide to Scotland (4th Edition)
    By 17 researchers
    Packed with information about getting around Scotland, what to see, where to stay and where to eat. When asked for tourist information about places in Scotland, this is one of the two reference books I use. No illustrations apart from maps.

    Scotland Highlands & Islands
    Richenda Miers
    A guide book to the whole of the Highlands and Islands covering practical advice on all the tourist locations and attractions as well as places to stay, eat, walk, climb, ski - or just relax! With local maps and black and white line drawings.
    374 pages, paperback.

    Scotland's Place-Names
    David Dorward
    Taking a different approach to Scotland's Place Names, David Dorward's book takes many of the elements that go to make up the names of Scotish locations and provides their origin, going on to give examples of place names using these elements. There is also a complete index if you are looking for a specific place name.
    170 pages, paperback.

    Scotland's Roman Remains
    Lawrence Keppie
    This is a classic handbook and guide to the Romans in Scotland with details of all the main places where the Romans left their mark on Scotland. There is a gazetteer which is useful for visitors and an extensive section on the Antonine Wall which ran across the width of Scotlnd from the river Clyde to the river Forth. With maps and black and white photos.
    196 pages, paperback.

    Scotland Visitors' Atlas and Guide (A-Z Street Atlas)
    A-Z Map Company
    These days, Google Maps offer a fantastic service but browsing a printed map to plan a route or find a location or tourist attraction along the way has its advantages on occasions. And one with 100 large, clear pages is just ideal for home reference or in the car. It not only covers the whole country at a scale of slightly over three miles to the inch but has a large section of individual town plans.
    104 pages, paperback.

    Scotland's Weather: An Anthology
    Compiled by Andrew Martine
    Scotland's weather is ever changing and this delightful anthology of prose, poetry and graphics provides an equally varied collection.

    A Scots Parliament (Itchy Coo Series)
    James Robertson
    This is one of series of 16 books under the title of "Itchy Coo" to encourage schoolchildren to use Scots words which they come across every day. This one is a useful guide to the origins of the Scottish Parliament from medieval times through the Union of the Parliaments to the present day. And the entire book is written in Scots. 128 pages. Paperback.

    Scots Thesaurus
    Edited by Iseabail MacLeod
    A treasure trove of the Scots language, divided into categories for easy reference. Over 20,000 Scots words with an English index making this a useful dictionary as well.

    Scottish Battles (Canongate)
    John Sadler
    Not just details of the main conflicts but a history of the historical context in which they were fought.

    Scottish Castle and Fortifications
    Richard Lewis Campbell Dargie
    Beautifully illustrated book on the history of a selection of Scottish castles and fortifications. All the main castles are covered, certainly all those that are on the tourist castle trails. Dargie has written over 30 books and acts aas historical consultant to the BBc so he knows how to communicate well.
    128 pages, paperback.

    Scottish Football Quotations
    Kenny MacDonald
    A second volume of quotes from footballers and commentators. Scotland on Sunday described it as "Funny and sad, serious and hilarious, thoughtful but also scented with the hot odour of the downright silly."

    Scottish Forenames
    Donald Whyte
    The origins and meanings of all the popular and many of the lesser-known forenames in use in Scotland.
    You can read my extended review of this book.

    The Scottish Nation: 1700-2007
    Prof Tom Devine
    A huge book (over 600 pages) which was published in 2000 and, for a book on Scottish history, became an instant "best seller" even in hardback (it is now available in a paperback edition). I like Tom Devine's books as they do not always follow the previously accepted views of historians but he backs up his assessments with well-researched facts, sometimes based on modern research and analysis. The depth of the book may be more than some general readers would require.

    Scottish Place Names
    George Mackay
    Although it's a small book it packs in a lot of information about the origins of almost 2,000 place names in Scotland. Shows the influence of Gaelic, Norwegian, Latin and Anglo-Saxon on Scotland's place names.
    96 pages, paperback

    Scottish (Doric)-English/English-Scottish (Doric) Concise Dictionary
    Douglas Kynoch
    "Fit like dictionary"? How to converse with the Aberdonians in their own terms.
    128 pages. Paperback.

    Scottish Roots: A Step-by-Step Guide for Ancestor-Hunters
    Alwyn James
    A step-by-step guide for ancestor-hunters in Scotland and elsewhere, written by a Welshman to help his Scots wife trace her roots.

    Scottish Surnames (Collins Pocket Reference)
    David Dorward
    This is the book I reach for first when asked "can you tell me about my family name?" One of the Collins Pocket Reference series it is packed with information about the origins and histories of over 1,000 names.

    The Singing Sleuth Goes Home
    D.B. Barton
    On the face of it, this is a "whodunnit" - but it has so much more... First of all there's the major Scottish element -and not just that it's set in Scotland and includes Scottish characters. The author has clearly done a lot of local research so there's plenty of local colour from around Inverness as well as the Scottish legal system and local culture, tourism and whisky distilling. Then there's the romantic element, as Alec DunBarton takes his American fiancée back to his Scottish home - a hotel where a writers' conference is taking place. Then Alec's mother creates problems for the couple with her Presbyterian objections to them sharing a bedroom while planning their wedding. Award-winning American author D.B. Barton also uses her experiences of writers' conferences and the motley collection of characters who turn up at such a gathering - in this book, any one of them could be the perpetrator of the murder of an egotistical literary agent. It's a while since I've read a detective story, but all the various elements resulted in me rattling through the pages, wanting to find out what happens next. Of course, I ended up being surprised by "whodunnit"!
    200 pages. Paperback.

    Slogans and Warcries of Scotland of Old
    Andrew Pearson
    This is much more than just a catalogue of the slogans and warcries of Scottish clans, districts, towns and families of both the highlands and lowlands of Scotland. It tells the stories of how and why the slogans and warcries of individual clans were begun and is lavishly illustrated with pictures of Scotland, its individual clans and the areas where they were based.
    200+ pages, hardback.

    Tom Shields Free at Last
    Tom Shields
    Culled from the humourous column in the "Herald" newspaper, highlighting some of the more absurd examples from around Scotland.

    Traditional Scottish Cookery
    Theodora Fitzgibbon
    All the traditional mouthwatering recipes from marmalade to kippers, oatcakes and shortbread.
    288 pages. Paperback.

    Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors a Guide to Ancestry Research Scottish Record Office
    Cecil Sinclair
    Produced by the Scottish Records Office this sets out all the resources available to those researching their family tree.
    153 pages. Paperback.

    Why Did the Haggis Cross the Road?
    Not just jokes about haggis - Nessie, kilts and tartan, football, bagpipes, whisky, thrifty Scotsand Scottish insults all get their own chapter in this big wee book of jokes with a Scottish flavour.
    155 pages, paperback.

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Where else would you like to go in Scotland?

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