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Scottish books we loved in 2023

Age group: Adults
A compilation of book covers against a bright yellow backdrop

As the year is coming to a close, we’ve put together a list of the Scottish books published in 2023 that the team here at Scottish Book Trust have loved. From romance to thrillers to memoir, there’s a bit of everything in here so you’re sure to find something to suit you!

K Patrick Mrs S

The debut novel from Patrick, Mrs S is sizzling portrayal of a queer love story set against the background of an austere English girls boarding school. The novel follows a young Australian working as a matron in a girls boarding school who becomes infatuated with the headmaster’s wife. Although the deeply sensual love story at the centre is the driving force of this book, it also captures teenage girlhood, queer friendship and the butch experience beautifully.

Sam Canning Virtual Strangers

Post-breakup and launching her own PR company, Ada must juggle managing a tricky client, reconnecting with her best friend and developing feelings for two near strangers – Fraser, a journalist she meets hot desking in a cafe, who invites her on trips to report the interesting things to do in Edinburgh; and Myster-E, an anonymous connection on an Agatha Christie fan fiction site. It's a warm, funny and fast-paced romance that also explores the challenges of adult friendships and what it's like to reinvent life in your 30s.

Fern Brady Strong Female Character

Fern Brady’s memoir is an incredibly moving story of an incredibly varied life. Brady’s memoir covers a lot of different experiences: being diagnosed with autism as an adult, homelessness, stripping and addiction, among many others. Told with her signature humour and frankness, this book is an eye-opening read that will make you laugh and cry in equal measure.

William Letford From Our Own Fire

Set in a near-future, this novel melds poetry and prose in a story of a working-class family living off the land in a world ruled by AI. At only 112 pages, this novel packs a real punch as we see the Macallums try and reconnect with the natural world while those in power insist on driving it towards a different vision of utopia. Told with great humour and a fantastic cast of characters, this is a touching examination of small acts of resistance.

Barbara Henderson Rivet Boy

A combination of historical fiction, adventure and a classic coming-of-age story, Rivet Boy takes place during the construction of the Forth Bridge. 12 year-old John Nicol has to become the breadwinner of his family following the tragic death of his father, so gets a job working building the Forth Bridge, despite his fear of heights. Jon is joined by his friend Cora and squirrel Rusty in the novel which weaves together fascinating local history with a true underdog story.

Rachelle Atalla Thirsty Animals

This dystopian novel takes place in the near future, in a world where water shortages push Scotland to close its borders. Aida is forced to move back in with her mum on their rural Scottish farm, with just enough water to get by. Suspicious strangers arrive and Aida and her family have to decide whether they can afford to share, and then the taps are turned off. This is an unflinching and gut-wrenching story of survival and self-discovery.

Martin MacInnes In Ascension

A gentle work of speculative fiction, In Ascension follows marine biologist Leigh as she joins an exploration team investigating a new trench in the Atlantic Ocean. As Leigh discovers that more and more related phenomena are happening across the globe, she is drawn into the work of an ambitious new space agency. As Leigh is torn between exploring further and staying with her family, the book looks at the natural world with a great sense of wonder and inquisitiveness.