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Scots books for book clubs

Our reading recommendations to help your book club explore more Scots writing this year

Last updated: 16 January 2024

A pile of open hardback books seen in profile

Book clubs can be a perfect setting to dive into something new or highlight writing from different cultures. This January, in honour of Burns Night, why not open up some discussions around Scots writing, or commit to exploring more Scots literature this year? With several different dialects spoken across the country, Scots writing makes for incredibly varied reading and is a great way to celebrate this significant aspect of Scottish culture.

To help get you started, we’ve put together this list of books which use Scots that are ideal for both solo reading and book club inspiration.

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

It’s always fun to read modern classics with book clubs, and Irvine Welsh’s debut novel has perhaps become one of the most iconic Scottish novels of the past few decades. The novel explores a darker side of Scotland with its gritty and raw depiction of the heroin-addicted fringe of working-class Edinburgh. Although this is quite a bleak read, there is a strong black humour and sense of wit throughout, capturing the classic Scottish sense of humour. However, there are some gruesome scenes in both the book and the film though, so make sure you give your book club a disclaimer first.

Duck Feet by Ely Percy

Front cover of Duck Feet by Ely Percy

Ely Percy is a rising star in Scottish writing. Their first novel Duck Feet is written in the Renfrewshire dialect, following 12-year-old Kirsty Campbell through high school in the mid-noughties. The book is made up of 65 interlinked short stories, making it incredibly fast-paced and easy to read in small chunks. For those who struggle to read a whole novel every month for book club, this is a great option to be able to dip in and out of and still join in with discussions.

Buddha Da by Anne Donovan

Book cover for Buddha Da by Anne Donovan

Another debut novel, Buddha Da is a gentle story about an ordinary Glaswegian father who discovers Buddhism, surprising and alienating his family in his search for a more meaningful life. This book is told from the perspective of three different characters, which provides plenty of talking points for group discussions, as you can see which perspectives resonate most strongly with the members of your book club.

Lazy Susan by Alan Bissett

Lazy Susan by Alan Bissett book cover

This novella is the perfect quick read for a book club with busy members, with plenty to talk about despite the short page count. Lazy Susan tells the story of Susie Q, a young care home worker trying to make it as a social media influencer, described by the author as a ‘Scottish, working-class Holly Golightly’. Follow her as she goes on a night out and navigates through 48 hours on the party scene.

Deep Wheel Orcadia by Harry Josephine Giles

Book cover of Deep Wheel Orcadia by Harry Josephine Giles

If you’re looking for something a little more experimental, Deep Wheel Orcadia is a magical science-fiction novel written in verse in the Orkney dialect. The story follows two misfit characters who find each other on a space station struggling for survival. The book contains a fantastic translation into English, making it a great fit for those less familiar with Scots.

Looking for more inspiration?

If you’re looking for more tips on running a book club, you can read our articles How to run a book club for adults or Running a pupil book club for tips on starting one in your school. If you want to explore more about Scots, you can find more reading information, inspiration and resources on our Scots page.