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The Return of Book Week

This week marked the return of Book Week Scotland to libraries across the Highlands and Islands. The event, now in its eleventh year, is an annual celebration of books and literature, with a week-long programme of exciting activities taking place from the 14th-20th November.

It’s no secret that books carry a timeless kind of transformative power. They allow us as readers the ability to escape to another place, to learn new things, change our perspectives and inspire us to better ourselves. It goes without saying that just as we can’t put books down, there are some that refuse to let us go. During Book Week, communities come together to celebrate this and share in the joy of reading.

At the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands team, we have been thinking about our favourite books and literature about the Highlands and Islands which have made a lasting impact on us. Here are some of our top picks!

Soil and Soul: People Versus Corporate Power

Alastair McIntosh

A fascinating read that follows the inspiring journey of the author Alistair McIntosh and campaigners from the Isle of Eigg to take on corpocracy and triumph. The success of the campaigners saw the establishment of the Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, putting the island in the ownership of the community for the first time after years of neglect.

The Silver Darlings

Neil M Gunn

Be transported in this book by distinguished author Neil M Gunn (1891-1973) to the dawning of the herring fisheries. Follow the tale of a Catrine and her family’s fight to survive in the immediate aftermath of the Highland Clearances.

The Stone Age

Jen Hadfield

Powerful and poignant, this inviting collection of poems paints a vivid picture of nature, people and place in Shetland – Hadfield’s home ground. This book is a brilliant read with a beautiful use of language which conveys the joy of being surrounded by the Shetland landscape. Winner of the 2021 Highland Book Prize.

Slaves and Highlanders: Silenced Histories of Scotland and the Caribbean

David Alston

In this book, historian David Alston presents an important and wholly necessary closer look at the extent of the often overlooked role of Highland Scots in the exploitation of enslaved Africans and their descendants in the 18th and 19th centuries. Shortlisted for the 2021 Highland Book Prize.

Kelpie’s Pearls

Mollie Hunter

The works of fiction writer Mollie Hunter will no doubt bring fond memories to many across Scotland. Kelpie’s Pearls is a classic children’s book follows the story of Morag MacLeod who lives on a hill above Loch Ness, believed to be a witch by locals after a series of strange occurrences. A fantastic read for lovers of Highland myths and legends.

Beside the Ocean of Time

George MacKay Brown

Set on the fictional Orkney island of Norday, explore a dream-like telling of the history and of the island and its people through the eyes of a young 20th century poet named Thorfinn Ragnarson. Told through a series of linked short stories, this book is an incredibly moving read where, like Thorfinn, you can effortlessly wander through the passage of time. Scottish Book of the Year winner (1994) and shortlisted for the Booker Prize.

The Living Mountain: A Celebration of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland

Nan Shepherd

Become immersed Nan Shepherd’s (1893-1981) timeless and deeply poetic ode to the Cairngorms. Written during the Second World War, this book remains a cult classic and a favourite of many hillwalkers and nature enthusiasts. It is truly a delight for all the senses and a testament to the intangible bonds between a person and their favourite places.



Stories are at the heart of what we do as a project and we are always looking to learn more about what the Highlands and Islands means to people who live, work, and visit here. Do you have a favourite story or book that you feel represents the 'Spirit of the Highlands and Islands'? Tell us below, we would love to hear from you!

Click here to share your story through our online story portal

Where Can I Find Out More About Book Week Events in My Area?

To find out more please visit: