Monday, September 27, 2010

100 Best Scottish Books

Following on from these two recent fiascos, I've finally found a book poll on the net where my reading count reaches double figures. It's sourced from The List, which is , I guess, Scotland's equivalent of Time Out and the article dates from 2005.

Twenty-one out of a hundred is not a bad reading haul, and there's another twelve or thirteen books on the list that I'd like to read at some point.

I thought it was a nice touch from the list compilers that they did not insist that the authors had to be Scottish by birth; just that the book listed had to have a strong Scottish connection. Hence, for example, the inclusion of Orwell's 1984 in the hundred, which was written on the Isle of Jura. (And, if you've ever read Orwell's collected essays and letters, his strong dislike of Scottish people is very apparent.)

Each listed entry in the linked article has a wee synopsis and well worth further investigation, but I have posted below links to some of the more interesting entries. (Well interesting to me.)

  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - Muriel Spark (1961)
  • Tunes of Glory - James Kennaway (1956)
  • The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan (1915)
  • Under the Skin - Michel Faber (2000)
  • Buddha Da - Anne Donovan (2003)
  • Confessions of an English Opium-Eater - Thomas De Quincey (1822)
  • King James Bible: Authorised Version - Various (1611)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles - Arthur Conan Doyle (1902)
  • The Divided Self - RD Laing (1960)
  • The Gowk Storm - Nancy Brysson Morrison (1933)
  • The Cone-Gatherers - Robin Jenkins (1955)
  • The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson (1886)
  • Sunset Song - Lewis Grassic Gibbon (1932)
  • Born Free - Laura Hird (1999)
  • The Silver Darlings - Neil M Gunn (1941)
  • The Life of Samuel Johnson - James Boswell (1791)
  • Annals of the Parish - John Galt (1821)
  • Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (1902)
  • The House with the Green Shutters - George Douglas Brown (1901)
  • Lanark - Alasdair Gray (1981)
  • Paradise - AL Kennedy (2004)
  • The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner - James Hogg (1824)
  • Trumpet - Jackie Kay (1998)
  • Morvern Callar - Alan Warner (1995)
  • Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell (1949)
  • Swing Hammer Swing! - Jeff Torrington (1992)
  • Hotel World - Ali Smith (2001)
  • Trainspotting - Irvine Welsh (1993)
  • The Trick is to Keep Breathing - Janice Galloway (1989)
  • Jericho Sleep Alone - Chaim Bermant (1964)
  • The Expedition of Humphry Clinker - Tobias Smollett (1771)
  • Lilith - George MacDonald (1895)
  • Imagined Corners - Willa Muir (1931)
  • Living Nowhere - John Burnside (2003)
  • Jelly Roll - Luke Sutherland (1998)
  • The White Bird Passes - Jessie Kesson (1958)
  • Young Adam - Alexander Trocchi (1954)
  • Rob Roy - Walter Scott (1818)
  • The Sea Road - Margaret Elphinstone (2000)
  • The Wealth of Nations - Adam Smith (1776)
  • The Break-Up of Britain: Crisis and Neo-Nationalism - Tom Nairn (1977)
  • Consider the Lilies - Iain Crichton Smith (1968)
  • No Mean City: A Story of the Glasgow Slums - Alexander McArthur and H. Kingsley Long (1935)
  • To the Lighthouse - Virginia Woolf (1927)
  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling (1997)
  • Madame Doubtfire - Anne Fine (1987)
  • Me and Ma Gal - Des Dillon (1995)
  • The Highland Clearances - John Prebble (1969)
  • A Concussed History of Scotland - Frank Kuppner (1990)
  • An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding - David Hume (1748)
  • A Voyage to Arcturus - David Lindsay (1920)
  • The Golden Bough - James Frazer (1890)
  • Grace Notes - Bernard MacLaverty (1997)
  • The Cutting Room - Louise Welsh (2002)
  • The Quarry Wood - Nan Shepherd (1928)
  • The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks (1984)
  • Brond - Frederic Lindsay (1984)
  • A Day at the Office - Robert Alan Jamieson (1991)
  • Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson (1995)
  • The Dear Green Place - Archie Hind (1966)
  • Miss Marjoribanks - Margaret Oliphant (1866)
  • The Sound of My Voice - Ron Butlin (1987)
  • Flemington - Violet Jacob (1911)
  • Greenvoe - George Mackay Brown (1972)
  • The New Road - Neil Munro (1914)
  • Psychoraag - Suhayl Saadi (2004)
  • The Bull Calves - Naomi Mitchison (1947)
  • The Coral Island - R. M. Ballantyne (1858)
  • From Russia, With Love - Ian Fleming (1957)
  • A Disaffection - James Kelman (1989)
  • The Shipbuilders - George Blake (1935)
  • Our Fathers - Andrew O'Hagan (1999)
  • A Sense of Freedom - Jimmy Boyle (1977)
  • A Twelvemonth and a Day - Christopher Rush (1985)
  • The Lighthouse Stevensons - Bella Bathurst (1999)
  • Adam Blair - John Gibson Lockhart (1822)
  • But n Ben A-Go-Go - Matthew Fitt (2000)
  • The Siege of Trencher's Farm - Gordon Williams (1969)
  • The New Testament in Scots - trans. William Laughton Lorimer (1983)
  • The Game of Kings - Dorothy Dunnett (1961)
  • Open the Door! - Catherine Carswell (1920)
  • The Lantern Bearers - Ronald Frame (1999)
  • An Oidhche Mus Do Sheòl Sinn - Aonghas Pàdraig Caimbeul (2003)
  • Children of the Dead End - Patrick MacGill (1914)
  • One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night - Christopher Brookmyre (1999)
  • The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame (1908)
  • Garnethill - Denise Mina (1998)
  • Joseph Knight - James Robertson (2003)
  • The Magic Flute - Alan Spence (1990)
  • Electric Brae - Andrew Greig (1997)
  • The Guns of Navarone - Alistair MacLean (1957)
  • The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - Alexander McCall Smith (1998)
  • Mr Alfred, M.A. - George Friel (1972)
  • Sartor Resartus - Thomas Carlyle (1836)
  • Black and Blue - Ian Rankin (1997)
  • Scar Culture - Toni Davidson (1999)
  • Whisky Galore - Compton Mackenzie (1947)
  • The Citadel - AJ Cronin (1937)
  • For the Love of Willie - Agnes Owens (1998)
  • Docherty - William McIlvanney (1975)

    mikeovswinton said...

    Alistair MacLean's The Guns of Navarone is quite good, I'm told. But its not got a patch on The Skaltalites version.

    mikeovswinton said...

    Yes, I know. I'm very sorry for the last post. Just couldn't resist.

    Darren said...

    'Fraid Maclean's is not one of the 12 or 13 books that I'd like to read in the future.

    I'm sure I saw the film years ago. Is that the one with James Darren?

    robert said...

    Oops, only eight for me. (No Gaitens, eh?)
    But 21, dude - wow, I doff my tam o'shanter to you.

    Darren said...

    I thought it'd be a jimmy wig.

    No Gaitens and no Gordon Legge. More shocked at the omission of Legge. They should have knocked Welsh off the list to make some room.

    stuart said...

    Only eight. But do you have to have read all 12 volumes of the Golden Bough and every word of the Bible?! If not, I make it to ten!

    Darren said...

    I wasn't claiming the bible myself.

    But then maybe you went to more Sunday School meetings than myself when you were growing up. ;-)

    stuart said...

    No, I was in the Scouts, but I don't think I ever knowingly read a word of the Bible till a few years ago! I was interested in why no Christian I can think of (with the possible exception of Tolstoy) ever tries to do what Jesus said you should do. Over to Bill Hicks:

    "I think what Jesus meant to say..."

    Darren said...

    Outside of RE lessons, I think the only time I ever sat down and read the bible was one cold miserable night in a B & B in Morecambe, when the only thing I had to read was a Gideon's Bible kindly left by the Gideon types in a bedside cabinet.

    stuart said...

    I'm sure that's what Jesus would have wanted. Ever seen a Gideon?

    The fascinating thing about reading the Bible (and Shakespeare, and fairy tales) is that you don't think you've ever read a word, but you somehow know more of it than you think. It's like it's in our cultural DNA, or collective (un)conscious or something...

    Darren said...

    Jesus wou;d have wanted me to spend a dreich night in Morecambe? Bastard.

    Actually, I liked Morecambe. There's a romanticism about its miserableness. (Too much Morrissey and Alan Bennett as a callow youth helps, though.)

    "The fascinating thing about reading the Bible (and Shakespeare, and fairy tales) is that you don't think you've ever read a word, but you somehow know more of it than you think."

    I think there's a lot of truth in that.

    stuart said...

    Oh the rain falls hard on a humdrum town... Indeed! I think we might have something in common there. I love the days everyone else calls dreary. The lower and grayer the sky, the colder the wind, the wetter the drizzle, the more depressing the town, the more excuse you have for staying in by the fire with a book. And, yes, I know, there's more to life than books. But not much more.

    Also, with the Bible/Shakespeare, long forgotten jokes from Blackadder and things you've read suddenly come back to you and seem funnier and cleverer.

    Darren said...

    Two Smiths lyrics in one paragraph. I am suitably impressed.

    Darren said...

    "Two Smiths lyrics in one paragraph. I am suitably impressed."

    That reminds me. Ever read Willy Russell's The Wrong Boy?

    I read it a few years back but I remember it as a good novel.

    stuart said...

    No, but love the sound of it. Will check it out, ta.

    Brigada Flores Magon said...

    Got 40 but I taught Scot Lit so should have had more. Thoroughly recommend 'But an Ben A Go Go'--pure dead brilliant.

    Darren said...

    Actually, before I forget, here's another Smiths related novel which may catch your fancy:

    How Soon Is Never?

    I read it two years ago, so of course I've forgotten everything about it. I do seem to remember that I enjoyed it at the time, though. So much so that I'm always on the look out for anything by the author.

    Kara's reading it at the moment. Maybe she's better placed to comment on its quality. (She'd have to read my blog, though.)

    Darren said...


    cheers for the recommendation.

    TBH, when I was originally going through the list, Matthew Fitt's novel passed me by unnoticed but now that I've read Niall O'Gallagher's write up about But n Ben A-Go-Go over at The List I think I'll check it out if I ever get the chance.

    Highlander said...

    Even I've read 5 of them.

    Darren said...

    Yeah, but which five?

    Highlander said...

    Probably the most obvious five?

    Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
    Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
    Trainspotting - Irvine Welsh
    Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - J.K. Rowling
    The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

    I'm not proud.

    Blueberryfaery said...

    How do you get new Scottish/ Irish folklore added? this is an awesome story full of traditional Scottish and Irish little people like Fir Darrig, Ghillie dhu and Fachan.