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A Scots Quair: Sunset Song, Cloud Howe, Grey Granite

by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.

Sunset Song is Lewis Grassic Gibbon's most loved work and, out of the three Quair novels (quair means book), the most rewarding to read as a single book. Gibbon used memories of his own upbringing on a croft in northeast Scotland to frame his narrative, which follows Chris Guthrie, one of the most remarkable female characters in modern literature, through her girlhood in a tight-knit Scottish farming community: the seasons, the weddings, the funerals, the grind of work, the gossip. As the Great War takes its toll, machines replace the old way of life and all is changed. The beauty of the novel comes in large part from Gibbon's language, as his narrator and all the characters use Scots words in among the English. While it is initially a struggle to keep up with all the meanings, the poetic quality is irresistible and hugely evocative of time and place.

At the Loch of the Green Corrie

by Andrew Greig.

Months before his death, poet Norman MacCaig's enigmatic final request to his friend Andrew Greig was that he fish for him at the Loch of the Green Corrie. But MacCaig, being fond of stories and roundabout journeys, didnít tell Greig the specific location or actual name of this loch. Greig's search required days of outdoor living, meetings with strangers and fishing with friends in the remote hill lochs of far northwest Scotland. It led, finally, to the waters of the Green Corrie, but the loch's refusal to match Greig's idea of what it should look like -- or to grant him a fish -- becomes metaphorical, a reflection of Greig's own life, and brings out his thoughts on poetry, geology and land ownership in the Highlands, as well as love and friendship.

Katie Morag Delivers the Mail

by Mairi Hedderwick.

Katie Morag is the main character in a series of delightful childrenís books by Mairi Hedderwick, and in Katie Morag Delivers the Mail she is charged with delivering five packages on the fictional Isle of Struay. As she makes the rounds, the reader meets the island's residents, including her tractor-driving Grannie -- and Hedderwick's watercolors convey the blustery island landscape as well as the charm and frustrations of such wild isolation.

Lonely Planet's Ultimate Travel: Our List of the 500 Best Places to See

A total of 12 Scottish sites are featured in Ultimate Travel, beginning with Edinburgh Castle in the 58th slot and followed by the Isle of Skye; Skara Brae (Orkney); Edinburgh's Royal Mile; Glencoe; Ben Nevis; Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum; Loch Lomond; the Standing Stones of Callanish (Isle of Lewis); the island of Iona, "Cradle of Christianity"; Stirling Castle; and Fingal's Cave on the island of Staffa. This definitive wish list of the best places to visit is packed with insightful write-ups and inspiring photography to get you motivated to start ticking off your travel bucket list.


Full reviews of these books are available in the Winter 2015 issue of Scottish Life.

Previously Reviewed Books