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PART OF THE ScotBookFlood ISSUE

For ScotBookFlood Publishing Scotland’s members reveal what books they’ll be gifting this Christmas.

For ScotBookFlood publishers reveal what Scottish books they’ll be gifting this Christmas. By choosing one from their own publishing house and one from elsewhere, there’s lots of insight and inspiration here for the book lovers in your life. Join in on social media with our hashtag and tell us what books you plan to gift to family and friends (or maybe as an end-of-year treat to yourself). We’d love to hear from you!

Andrew MacKinnon from Acair is buying…

The first book which I plan on gifting this year will be Sly Cooking – Forradh, by artist Catrìona Black. This is a great wee pocket book featuring little-known Gaelic words, accompanied by fun original linocut illustrations, created by the artist. I plan on giving this book to my mum, who loves learning new Gaelic words that she’s never come across before, even though she has been a fluent speaker all her life!

The second book I plan on gifting this year is Hings by Chris McQueer. This fun, witty new book has been widely praised since its release, and would make a great gift for someone with a sense of humour! My brother is a keen follower of Chris on Twitter, and I know he would love reading more of his quick wit and funny observations.

Jonny Gallant from Alban Books is buying…

My father just moved to Edinburgh, setting up home in a top floor tenement in Bruntsfield with spectacular views. Looking out over the city it’s wonderful to pick out landmarks and piece together a map of the Old Town from the living room. I’ll be giving him a copy of Edinburgh: Mapping the City by Chris Fleet and Daniel MacCannell. Dad (and I) will get great enjoyment learning more about his new city as we gaze over it with mugs of coffee and glasses of wine.

My best friend, Kieran, is a musician and song-writer and I know of no-one else who revels more in the English language. A few years ago, I gave him Ron Ferguson’s excellent biography of George Mackay Brown, but I really should have given him Letters from Hamnavoe. Dipping into this book, just for a couple of minutes, rewards the reader with exquisite turns of phrase, imagery and reflection. It’s a treasure of a book that has stayed with me since I first read it over a decade ago; I think of Mackay Brown and springtime every time my knife goes into butter.

Duncan Jones from ASLS is buying…


A Kist o Skinklan Things, like all the best anthologies, is full of variety – a wonderful gift-box of twentieth-century Scots poems, a mixter-maxter of comedy and tragedy, of love, despair, triumph, rage, beauty, hope, life, and death. Demonstrating the huge poetic range and power of the Scots language, this is an absolute gem of a collection.

James Kelman’s Dirt Road is an extraordinary novel. All Kelman’s novels are extraordinary, of course, but Dirt Road stands out for the virtuoso high-wire act that is Murdo’s stream of consciousness, which we inhabit throughout the book, and for Kelman’s effortless narrative control and deep human sympathy.

Freya Barcroft from Barrington Stoke is buying…

This year I was absolutely blown away by Martin MacInnes’ debut novel Infinite Ground. Though completely lacking in any festive flair, this engrossing journey of a novel is definitely one to be sampled at any time of the year. Pulling on the strings of detective tropes, Martin’s writing goes far beyond the confines of any genre to become a unique and rather unnerving read. It’s definitely one for those ‘I’ve read it all’ readers and I’ll be gifting it to my wonderful mum who’s a more voracious reader than I’ll ever be!

And from our selection of shiny new titles, I’ll be gifting  to my little cousin who’s just stepping into the brilliant world of YA, the hilarious and heartbreaking The Last Days of Archie Maxwell by Annabel Pitcher. It’s definitely a book for teen readers searching out more hard-hitting subjects and it is so tightly written and plotted that it’s a wonderfully easy read. Archie’s voice is so real and engaging that I found it impossible not to read in one sitting and I’m sure my cousin will quite happily curl up with his story on a lazy boxing day.

Kirstin Lamb from Barrington Stoke is buying…

It’s an unashamedly biased purchase, but I will be gifting our newly-published I Killed Father Christmas by Anthony McGowan and Chris Riddell. Apart from the obvious festive link, this little book makes a great Christmas gift with a funny, joyful storyline all about the true meaning of Christmas, and with magical illustrations by Chris Riddell – what more could you ask for? I’ll be buying it for my little cousin who has just started to read on his own but will still let me curl up and read with him – the perfect book for sharing with a little one over the holidays!

Elsewhere I’ve already picked up Ian Buxton’s brand new Whiskies Galore: A Tour of Scotland’s Island Distilleries which will be perfect for my dad this Christmas – he’s been a big fan of Ian’s writing since 101 Gins to Try Before You Die and this one will, I suspect, go down even better. (And there’s a small chance he may even discover a distillery he hasn’t yet visited himself!)

Jamie Norman from Canongate Books is buying…

For my father, Alistair Moffat’s The Hidden Ways – an exploration of the history of Scotland’s forgotten roads, it’s a rich and fascinating study of the land, told through the paths Alistair has walked. Something to hopefully rouse dad from the sofa on Christmas day and set him out walking!

For my friend Nicki, I’m paying close attention to the upcoming The Goldblum Variations collection by Helen McClory – as she can quote any of his lines at the drop of a hat, I think this’ll be perfect, plus the concept is hilarious.

Jen Wallace from Canongate Books is buying…


This Christmas, I will be gifting The Hidden Ways by Alistair Moffat to my brother. He loves walking and the outdoors and this book is such a wonderful celebration of Scotland’s natural and social history that I know it will be the perfect gift for him, and hopefully inspire him to do a bit of exploring of his own.

I’ll also be buying a copy of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman for my mum. I thought it was really heartwarming and made me feel all warm and fuzzy which is the perfect kind of book for snuggling up with over the Christmas holidays.

Anne Glennie from Cranachan Publishing is buying…

This year I’m putting a copy of This Bonny Baby by Kasia Matyjaszek and Michelle Sloan in my nephew Cameron’s stocking. He’s only two, but he loves books and listening to stories. This cute board book will be a winner because it has a mirror inside and gorgeous illustrations of babies making a mess – another one of his favourite past-times!

My cousin Heather has been raving about the recent TV adaptation of Queen Victoria’s life, so I’m hoping she’ll be delighted to receive a signed copy of Punch by Barbara Henderson. Set in Victorian Scotland, runaway Phin finds new friends on the road, including an escaped prisoner and a dancing bear. With a bracing, pacy plot which includes the famous Punch and Judy, Queen Victoria, and even a Victorian Christmas celebration – this is sure to be a festive favourite!

Jayne Baldwin from Curly Tale Books is buying…

How could I not recommend this new title as our children’s publishing company and shop sits right next to Shaun’s extraordinary emporium that has grown over the years into Scotland’s largest second hand bookshop? The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell is as quixotic and quirky as its author and his business based in Wigtown, Scotland’s National Booktown. The diary format makes it extremely readable and funny combining his jaded views on demanding customers whilst dealing with an eccentric selection of seasonal staff. I’m planning to give copies to several friends and family members so that they hopefully realise that there is more to bookselling than sitting behind a desk drinking coffee and reading!  Shaun’s diary reveals the emotional baggage of bookselling including the complications of what may lie in much loved collections left to family to dispose of when the owner dies. And then there’s the day to day difficulty of just trying to make a living out of what many imagine to be their dream job. Surprisingly frank this book has heart in between the hard covers.

Nip Nebs by Susi Briggs, with illustrations by Ruthie Redden, is a beautiful book about winter frost will be hot off the press at the beginning of December. Nip Nebs is the Scots name for Jack Frost and the charming story is suitable for young children but the illustrations by artist Ruthie Redden mean that it has appeal for all ages. The book is in Scots but the language is evocative and lyrical and can be appreciated by non Scots speakers though there is a translation into English as well. I’ll be buying copies for children in the family, but know that their parents and grandparents will love the pictures as Nip Nebs weaves his magic across a winter landscape.

Karyn McMurray from Floris Books is buying…

When Wine Tastes Best is a genius wee book that tells you when wine is at its most delicious. It’s slim, handbag-sized and you can carry it anywhere – perfect for those emergencies when you have to ask yourself, ‘Is this a good day to drink wine?’ I will be gifting this to my best friend this Christmas.

Pretty Monsters is one of my favourite books of all time. This collection of Kelly Link short stories will definitely be going in someone’s stocking: the trouble is deciding which lucky person’s life to make infinitely weirder, funnier and more magical. The only solution is to gift multiple copies…

Eleanor Collins from Floris Books is buying…

I have a lot of 9-12 year olds in my life right now, and that means I’m giving away numerous copies of Lari Don’s wonderful Spellchasers  trilogy. It’s gripping, friendly, full of magical adventure and happens to be set on enchanting Speyside. Recommended for Christmas and birthdays.

It wouldn’t be Christmas for my children without the latest Matt Haig Christmas book: Father Christmas and Me, which follows the beguiling A Boy Called Christmas and The Girl Who Saved Christmas. The Chris Mould illustrations are so full of character: stocking-filler gold.

Chani McBain from Floris Books is buying…

I’ll be giving this fun book, Ally Bally Bee illustrated by Kathryn Selbert, to my daughter this Christmas. She’s 2 and loves lifting flaps to discover what’s underneath and the rhyme is a favourite in our house).

A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith’s Edinburgh will make an ideal present for my mother-in-law who likes nothing better than to lose herself in the history and architecture of a beautiful city.

Leah McDowell from Floris Books is buying…


Full of fun details and bright colours, I know my niece will love The Super Scotland Sticker Book by Susana Gurrea! Especially because it contains lots of places and animals that she sees every day in Scotland.

Surely the festive season is the perfect time to learn the art of over-indulging… As a self-confessed hedonist, I’ll be buying a copy of The Art Of Losing Control: A Philosopher’s Search for Ecstatic Experience by Jules Evans for myself, as well as a few friends and relatives who are also particularly skilled in this area!

Sarah Webster from Floris Books is buying…

Every year at Christmas-time I’m poised and ready to unleash my inner Art Attack (a staple in the TV diet of many 90s kids). A Swedish Christmas: Simple Scandinavian Crafts, Recipes and Decorations by Caroline Wendt allows me to do just that. Packed with creative inspiration from creating your own Christmas crackers and wreaths to recipes for giant gingerbread crowns, this book will fully satisfy my crafting ambitions this festive season.

My sister loves crime thrillers, so I intend to introduce her to some of Scotland’s finest tartan noir with the new Bloody Scotland anthology by various authors. A fantastic taster of so many leading crime writers, it’s exciting and intriguing to find out how they’ve grafted their new crime stories onto some of Scotland’s most fascinating buildings and structures.

CJ Cook from Floris Books is buying…

ALL of my friends will be receiving copies of Chris McQueer’s Hings, from queens of the publishing scene 404 Ink. I don’t think a book has ever made me laugh so much (or made me question my curry choices), and I want to share the joy.

I’ll be sending a copy of Porridge the Tartan Cat and the Unfair Funfair by Alan Dapre to my 9-year-old cat-mad goddaughter. As she’s half-Scottish, I love to remind her of her roots by sharing Scottish books with her. She’s adored the Porridge the Tartan Cat series so far, so I know she’ll be so excited to read his latest cat-lamity!

Shelagh Campbell from Gaelic Books Council is buying…


Le Mùirn/With Affection by Catriona Murray is a very special book which documents the friendship between the renowned ‘Melbost bard’, Murdo MacFarlane and the equally renowned Gaelic singer, Margaret MacLeod of Na h-Òganaich. The book, which is bilingual, includes a number of classic songs which came from this historic collaboration as well as letters, photos, manuscripts and stunning original artworks produced specially for this project. It would make a perfect gift for anyone interested in contemporary Gaelic music.

I’m going to send  Mil san Tì? by Seonag Monk by to a friend in Canada who’s learning Gaelic. The story is gripping and often hilarious, the characters are wickedly witty and true to life and I couldn’t put it down. As a Gaelic learner myself, this was one of the first books that I read from page to page without consulting a dictionary!

Laura Waddell from HarperCollins is buying…

This Christmas one of our standout books at Collins is the Explorer’s Atlas, created by Polish illustrators Piotr Wilkowiecki and Michal Gaszynski. It’s an atlas for the incurably curious, for those ready to fall down a rabbithole of the weird and wonderful, as it filled with oddities and tidbits of information. It’s also sumptuously designed, with a palette of forest greens, rich mauves and burgundy against cream and gold. It doesn’t even need to be wrapped with a bow. I guarantee that if you gift this to someone, you will later find them poring over it.

From elsewhere, I can think of many people who should read Rebecca Solnit’s The Mother of All Questions, and the violently chartreuse and navy cover makes it a striking gift, too. I always feel like I can breathe more easily after reading Solnit. I was recently at the Literature Alliance Scotland Literary Cabaret and two speakers quoted her in their review of the past year. The thoughtfulness, clarity and compassion with which she writes on topics of the day feels like a steady, guiding hand through an uncertain world.

James Crawford from Historic Environment Scotland is buying…

Photo by
Paul Reich

Everyone really should know that books are the best presents. It’s what I give – and receive – almost exclusively each year. Every book is your own personal Tardis – little cuboids of paper and words that can contain whole worlds. Whereas socks can only contain your feet…

This year I’ll be giving Bloody Scotland to my father. He’s an avid reader of crime fiction, but primarily concentrates on the big American authors. Which means he needs to be introduced to the incredible crop of current Scottish talent. What better than a book of crime shorts – inspired by Scotland’s iconic buildings – to showcase 12 of the nation’s best crime writers? Featuring the likes of Denise Mina, Val McDermid, Chris Brookmyre, Doug Johnstone and Louise Welsh, this is the ideal primer to lead him to a whole raft of new and backlist titles…

For my brother I’m going to get Geoff Dyer’s White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World. I’ve followed Geoff Dyer’s genre-hopping writing for years now, and find him one of the most interesting and unusual essayists out there. All the same, he is an acquired taste and one I’ve been reluctant to share as a result. So my brother will be a test case! The essays in White Sands offer the perfect encapsulation of Dyer’s amused misanthropy, and his meandering and languorous attempts to explore the most fundamental questions about our existence. To paraphrase the title of one of his previous books, this is existentialism for those who can’t be bothered to do it

Christine Wilson from Historic Environment Scotland is buying…

I will definitely be giving Who Built Scotland: A History of the Nation in Twenty-Five Buildings by Kathleen Jamie, Alexander McCall Smith, Alistair Moffat, James Robertson and James Crawford to my dad this year (although I’m sure my mum will borrow it pretty quickly). He is a real history enthusiast, and I know he has read books by some of the authors before, like Alexander McCall Smith and Kathleen Jamie. My parents live in Glasgow, so I think they will especially enjoy the chapters on Glasgow School of Art and Glasgow Cathedral.

I recently finished re-reading Under the Skin by Michel Faber, which is just amazing. I’ll be giving a copy to my sister this Christmas – she has seen the film, but not read the book. Canongate reissued it as part of the Canons series earlier this year with a beautiful new cover, so it has to be that edition! I might even throw in a copy of The Book of Strange New Things as a bonus gift.

Healey Blair from Muddy Pearl is buying…


Most of us will know someone who loves Christmas – not just loves, but LOVES it. That person for me is my friend Nicola, who loves Christmas so much that one year she nearly ended up in A&E after she got so excited she began to hyperventilate. In order to keep her calm this year, I’ll be gifting her a thoughtful little book that she can read the whole way through the Advent period. Adventure by Mark Greene is a beautiful book of poems and reflections on the wonder and mystery of the Christmas story, perfectly capturing the magic that can be found in the story of Jesus.

My sister is an art student with a brilliant imagination, who loves to invent worlds not unlike our own where blobs of paint and pencil marks are life forms with unique thoughts and personalities. Even after reading just the first few pages of The Humans from Matt Haig, I knew this story of a man replaced by an alien who struggles to understand the human world would be exactly the kind of book a woman who loves to create fantastical realities would enjoy. This insightful and hilarious look at the beauty to be found in messy humanity will be a great read for my sister over the Christmas holidays (and a very welcome break from university reading!)

Taran Baker from Sandstone Press is buying…

Skye the Puffling by Lynne Rickards is going to be one of my Christmas gifts for my adorable 1 year old niece Millie Skye, who shares a name with the wonderful ball of feathers that is Skye the Puffling. She is already obsessed with books, opening and closing them is her favourite part but were now getting to a point where she listening to someone read to her and what could be better than one of Lynne Rickard’s masterpieces.

I’m planning to get my dad the whole William Wisting Series because he loves Scandi Crime, and Jorn Lier Horst’s police procedurals will be just the thing to keep him distracted this Christmas (so Mum and I can watch Strictly in peace). Of course there’s lots in the series to choose from but I’ve gone with When It Grows Dark as it’s the prequel to the first book Dregs and will get him started.

Kay Farrell from Sandstone Press is buying…


My Dad is a big reader of non-fiction, particularly history with a Scottish connection. He especially loves to have new anecdotes to wheel out at social events around Christmas. The Great Horizon by Jo Woolf is perfect for him: it combines stories of some of the world’s most famous adventurers with stories of lesser-known explorers and scientists, mostly Scottish. While there’s a real mix of inspiring stories – my favourite is the indomitable Freya Stark ­– I think Dad will like the crusty Speirs-Bruce best. He can identify with a man who thought there was no good reason Scotland shouldn’t launch its own Antarctic expedition!

In I Killed Father Christmas! by Anthony McGowan, a boy kills Father Christmas by asking for too many gifts, then proceeds to make amends by putting on his mum’s old red coat and playing Santa himself. I’ve got several children-of-friends to buy for and I can foresee more than one getting this book, especially since Barrington Stoke’s books are dyslexia-friendly. Great story with themes around the consequences of selfishness and taking responsibility, and the illustrations are adorable. I love the robot!

Sue Foot from Sandstone Press is buying…

 I’m going to give a friend The Whisky Dictionary by Iain Hector Ross for Christmas. It’s a lovely little book full of whisky terminology and quirky drawings. Just the thing for my friend to cosy up with by the fire and enjoy a glass of whisky.

My second book is How To Stop Time by Matt Haig for my daughter’s birthday. She’s studying abroad and had to leave most of her books at home. With exams looming I think she would definitely like to stop time!

Robbie Guillory from Saraband Books is buying…

Plump stockings rule above all other Christmas traditions in my family, so foraging for the perfect fillers to squeeze in besides the chocolate coins and obligatory potato can take all year. My partner’s stocking is going to have a few hard corners in it, because I’m slipping in the first of Contraband’s Pocket Crime collection, The Paper Cell, a gripping literary thriller by Louise Hutcheson that will be perfect for curling up with beside the fire.

My oldest and best friend lives at the other end of the country, so when we do meet it generally requires feasting. To that end, I’m getting him the beautiful Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat this Christmas, and look forward to the culinary delights to be had in the new year.

Sara Hunt from Saraband Books is buying…

My cousin will be unwrapping a copy of The Accident on the A35 by Graeme Macrae Burnet this Christmas (many of my family and friends are already reading it!) The sheer pleasure of reading Graeme’s novels is due in large part to his outstanding ability to create characters so real, so alive, that you fear, hope, seethe, cringe, lust, laugh and loathe alongside them. Add to that his mischievous wit, understated style, evocative atmosphere, some clever literary flourishes and a detective story. Brilliant!

For another family member who’s currently living abroad, I’ll be sending new illustrated title Who Built Scotland, in which a variety of contributors describe aspects of Scotland’s built (and sometimes natural) landscape. It’s a book for browsers, who will doubtless begin with their own favourite place or author and go on to discover new ones. Apart from my relative’s professional and personal interest in the subject, it’s an effective way of reminding her, ‘Haste ye back.’

Jean Findlay from Scotland Street Press is buying…


I love the word Jolabokaflod – onomatopoeic, it brings to mind a jolly flood of books. For this Christmas book flood, I would give Errant Blood by CF Peterson to my husband because it is a thrilling page-turner set in a Highland winter where the landscape and the weather are almost another character in themselves.

To my father, Peter Findlay, sadly no longer with us, though he is in spirit, I would give Alan Cameron’s Cinico – because it gives the outsider’s view of the Scottish Referendum campaign from a seasoned European. Born a francophone, my father was a witty cynic himself, but this sat with a passionate and uncynical belief in an independent future.

Maria Carter from Swan and Horn is buying…

My elder daughter and her husband are trying for a baby in the New Year. Competent people though they are, they lead incredibly busy lives, so I will be gifting them some treasure in the form of Small Steps to Great Parenting: For Busy Families, by Kalanit Ben-Ari, which packs a lot of punch into a small volume, bursting with realistic, relevant and practical tips based on the best child-development research but without reams of hyperbole!

For my younger daughter, it will be Luke William’s Echo Chamber – she loved the magic realism of Salman Rushdie and Günter Grass, so will thoroughly enjoy the unique literary style of this author and his unique story spanning Nigeria and Scotland, two very significant countries in her own family history.

Sue Steven from Whittles Publishing is buying…


Running South America, with my Husband and other animals by Katharine Lowrie will be perfect for one of my daughters who is a keen runner and has a lot of friends who go running regularly, doing 5Ks and 10Ks. Even in the dark evenings they still go running in the woods but with headtorches on! I know she’ll enjoy Katharine’s amazing story plus reading about all the huge variety of wildlife will make it a book to remember, I’m sure.

Tiddler Sticker Activity Book by Julia Donaldson will be ideal for my two grandsons, aged 2.5 and 5, who absolutely love stickers and I hope they’ll be able to share the book as one will be able to do the  the games and puzzles with a little help and of course the stickers will be great for them both. Who knows where the stickers will appear, apart from in the book?!

Eloise Hendy from Vagabond Voices is buying…

There seems to be a slightly unfortunate tradition in my family of giving my mum quite emotionally heavy books for Christmas… Last year my dad outdid himself and gave her Grief Is A Thing With Feathers by Max Porter, leading to tears before turkey. The Outrun by Amy Liptrot may at points appear to continue in this tradition – it concerns alcoholism and isolation in pretty hefty doses – but I found the process of reading it utterly joyous. Liptrot’s book is stuffed full with curiosity, and it’s examination of Orkney’s wild environment is breathtaking. As an aspirational wild swimmer herself, who has recently moved across the country to a new, more rural environment, I know my mum would relish diving into this book. It may sting at first, but you emerge refreshed.

The last book I remember my dad really urging me to read was His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet. He still has it on his bedside table almost two years after finishing it. So what could be better for a fan of history, mystery and the hint of true crime than another story set in Scotland’s murky past? While His Bloody Project conjures a convincing history of a young murderer, Doubting Thomas, by Heather Richardson, follows a genuine criminal – or is he the victim? Focusing on Thomas Aikenhead, the last person to be executed in Britain for blasphemy, this novel is a gripping examination of ethics, medicine and religion in 17th Century Edinburgh. I think it will easily grab my dad from the opening scene’s grisly autopsy onwards.


Check out our Pinterest board for a visual snapshot of all the books chosen here.

Join in on social media with our #ScotBookFlood hashtag and @scottishbooks and tell us what books you plan to gift to family and friends (or maybe as an end-of-year treat to yourself). We’d love to hear from you!

If you enjoyed this then you might like this article of Scottish publisher’s summer reading recommendations.

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