Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stane: Scots Edition by JK Rowling, translated by Matthew Fitt (Itchy Coo, £7.99)

WL Lorimer’s classic New Testament in Scots may take some beating, but the Harry Potter oeuvre is almost as hefty a cultural cornerstone these days. Marking 20 years since its original publication, and following translation into 79 other languages, the first Harry Potter book makes its debut appearance in Scots, translated by Matthew Fitt. Although JK Rowling is from Gloucestershire originally, the series will always be indelibly associated with Scotland, so the Scots translation feels apt and, thanks to the likes of “Tam O’Shanter”, these old Scots words are well suited to Hogwarts’ atmosphere of sorcery and suspense. Fitt writes with confidence and relish, renaming Quidditch as “Bizumbaw” and Dumbledore as “Dumbiedykes”. Furthermore, he’s brought a new liveliness to the prose, which begs to be read aloud for the sheer fun of it, and a gallus charm to a franchise that has arguably become rather tired out after seven novels, eight films, dedicated shops and more merchandise than you could shake a wand at.

Arthur & Sherlock by Michael Sims (Bloomsbury, £9.99)

Loading article content

It’s well known that Joseph Bell, the keenly observant surgeon who lectured medical students at the University of Edinburgh, was the model for Sherlock Holmes, but this tightly focused biography of Arthur Conan Doyle places Bell in the context of the other influences that shaped his most famous creation. Although Sims enjoys exploring the intellectual, deductive roots of Sherlock Holmes, he highlights the sporty and physically imposing side of Conan Doyle, who had a streak of recklessness and impulsiveness which led him to join a whaling expedition as its medic, take off to Africa and use himself as a guinea pig for experiments with a highly toxic substance. A fascinating section explains how far the nascent genre of the detective story had progressed by the point Doyle created Holmes, and how the author drew on his predecessors while refining the form. It’s all told concisely and breezily, highly informative without ever getting bogged down and written with warm admiration.

Collusion by Luke Harding (Guardian/Faber, £14, 99)

It’s one of the burning issues of the moment. Did Russia interfere with the 2016 US election? Was there collusion between Trump’s team and the Russian government? It’s hard to follow all the allegations and denials day-to-day in the press. Better to settle down with this book by Luke Harding, who was the Guardian’s Moscow bureau chief from 2007 to 2011, when he was expelled from the country. Trump’s government, especially in its early days, has a disproportionate number of Russian connections and interests, and Harding has found numerous sources who claim that the Kremlin has been courting Trump since 1987. He therefore scrutinises dealings between Trump and various Russian associates (whose backgrounds are explored too), pointing out their connections with Putin and seeing patterns in the flow of money into Trump properties. Harding has not only done the legwork, he can explain what it means. If he’s right, investigations into the US government’s Russian connections can only get more damaging.