Your 100 Best Scottish Novels

Your 100 Best Scottish Novels

We want your help to compile the definitive list of the 100 most important Scottish novels of all time: the books you've read, those you've been meaning to read, the ones you'd recommend to friends and family.

Here are the latest five choices, nominated by readers, but presented in no particular order, to add to the first 25 endorsed by literary editor Rosemary Goring or previously nominated by readers.

Feel free to give us your opinion on them, using the comment section below.

But we also need your participation to come up with the other 70 titles. Please send us your nomination (title, author, year of publication, and a maximum of 50 words explaining your choice) to

Each month, we'll add five more books to our list and say who made the choice and why.

      • The Death of Men, Allan Massie, 2004
      • Anne Marie Fox says: Compelling as suspense and profound as a philosophical exploration of political ideologies and terrorism, 'post-Christian' consumer society and family.

      • The White Bird Passes, Jessie Kesson, 1958
      • Alistair Campbell, Elgin, concludes: Writing of the highest quality, pared to poetic essence. The unforgettable tale of Janie's childhood in crowded backstreets richly peopled by characters who live on the margins.

      • The Well at the World's End, Neil Gunn, 1951
      • Janet Feenstra recommends Gunn's most personal novel: The metaphor of light reflects Gunn’s quest for personal enlightenment. Its optimism has relevance for Scotland now more than ever.

      • The Bridge, Iain Banks, 1986
      • Allen Henderson, on Facebook, says:  I'm a big Banks fan and for me, The Bridge just pips the Wasp Factory.

      • Cold in the Earth, Aline Templeton, 2005
      • Julia MacDonald, on Facebook, says: a novel with a clear description of Scottish towns and folk.

    • Fergus Lamont, Robin Jenkins, 1979
    • Ian Wishart, Edinburgh made this choice.


    • The Antiquary , Sir Walter Scott, 1816
    • Bryson McNail, Glasgow, writes of the second Scott entry to our list: It has some of the finest descriptive writing ever - the scenes and vistas open before you. It also has a great story line.

    • Joseph Knight, James Robertson, 2004
    • Megan Mackie says: It is both a great story and a powerful history lesson rolled into one…a narrative of family relationships, betrayal and social justice told within the context of Scotland's involvement in the slave trade.

    • Body Politic, Paul Johnston, 1999
    • Elaine Wishart, Edinburgh, concludes: As well as a great crime novel it paints a very very believable picture of Edinburgh as a city run for tourists - brilliant satire and cracking characters. I read it in one sitting.

    • A Disaffection, James Kelman, 1989
    • Mark Barbieri says: Any one of Kelman's novels could make the top 100 but the story of frustrated school teacher Patrick Doyle is his finest. Sad, honest, funny, vital, incomparable and simply brilliant..

    • The Holy City, Meg Henderson, 1997
    • Diane Jardine, Glasgow, says: Captured my home town with unnerving accuracy and helped me appreciate its psychology and community just a little bit more.


    • Young Art and Old Hector, Neil M. Gunn, 1942
    • Myra Davidson, Livingston, concludes: Wonderful depiction of childhood and old age. A Glasgow child, I was evacuated to a croft on Arran and I am still grateful for the introduction to a way of life I would not otherwise have had.

    • Whisky Galore, Compton Mackenzie, 1947

    • Elizabeth Marshall says: A lovely book that deserves to be included.


    • The House with the Green Shutters, George Douglas Brown, 1901
    • Joan Brennan: This has to be among the very top of  the finest 100 Scottish novels

    • Consider the Lilies, Iain Crichton Smith, 1968

    • Derek McMenamin nominates the writer’s best known novel, about the Highland clearances.

    • Gillespie, J. MacDougall Hay, 1914
    • Alan Mackie, Kinghorn says: An epic tale. And just as dark, if not darker than Crime and Punishment as an insight into what it means to be human. Not the happiest book but in terms of style and sheer enjoyment it is right up there with the best for me.

    • The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, James Hogg, 1824
    • Kenneth Wright justifies his choice: Theology might not sound like a promising subject for fiction, but Hogg's critique of the hardshell Calvinism that was Scotland's religious orthodoxy c.1700 is compellingly expressed as ghost story, psychological thriller, earthy kailyaird comedy and drama of personal morality.

    • One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night, Christopher Brookmyre, 1999
    • Vicky Gallagher says: I really enjoyed Christopher Brookmyre's books, especially this one and A Tale Etched In Blood And Hard Pencil – very funny – very Glaswegian!


    • The Heart of Midlothian, Sir Walter Scott, 1818
    • Robert Miller is convinced it's a forgotten masterpiece: This book has a real Scottish heroine and is very accurately based in a interesting time in Scottish history.


    • Greenvoe, George Mackay Brown, 1972
    • Siobheann Saville says: Tragic, funny, poetic, descriptive - a book that has it all. Some of the passages read like poetry and have to be re-read several times. The wit and setting of 'Local Hero' and the family sagas of 'Stars look down' - a personal favourite I can read many times and still be surprised.

    • Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, 1932
    • The first – and best – part of the Scots Quair trilogy explores several key issues, such as Scottish identity and land use, war, and the human condition. All bound up in an accessible, moving human tale. An evergreen classic.

    • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark, 1961
    • First published in the New Yorker magazine, the novel's heroine was memorably brought to life by Maggie Smith, complete with the girls who comprised her "crème de la crème". It's a bitingly funny examination of love, relationships, and power.

    • Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh, 1993
    • The graphic portrayal of a group of junkies made a huge impact, helped by Danny Boyle’s film. Welsh added a sequel, Porno, and a prequel, Skagboys, is due out in 2012.


    • Kidnapped, Robert Louis Stevenson, 1886
    • It may have been written as a “boys’ novel”, but the book’s basis in historical reality and its ability to reflect different political viewpoints elevates it to a far higher place, drawing praise from such figures as Henry James and Seamus Heaney.

    • The Thirty-Nine Steps, John Buchan, 1915
    • The first of five novels to feature Richard Hannay initially appeared in serialised form in Blackwood’s Magazine. A rollicking good read ¬- if rendered slightly outdated by its kanguage and attitudes - it inspired British soldiers fighting in the WWI trenches, and the various film versions cemented its place in the literary canon.

    • Lanark, Alasdair Gray, 1981
    • Gray's first novel but also his crowning glory: a marvellous mixture of storytelling, illustration, and textual subversion which set the tone for his future work. The author cited Kafka as a major influence, but just about any interpretation of his words is possible…and that's the fun.

    • Black and Blue, Ian Rankin, 1997
    • Not everyone will agree with this choice, but Rankin is the acknowledged king of Tartan Noir, and the eighth Inspector Rebus book won him the Crime Writers’ Association’s  Macallan Gold Dagger.

    • The Princess and the Goblin, George MacDonald, 1872
    • This son of Aberdeenshire's fantasy is regarded as having had a seminal influence on children's literature, with such luminaries as Mark Twain and GK Chesterton paying homage. Film versions of the book have not been huge successes, but it appears in the 100 Classic Book Collection compiled for the Nintendo DS.

    • Clara, Janice Galloway, 2002
    • Galloway first came to prominence with The Trick is to Keep Breathing, but Clara, based on the life of the composer's wife Clara Schumann and which won her the Saltire Book Award, is seen as her finest achievement.

    • The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, Tobias Smollett , 1771
    • Born in Renton, West Dunbartonshire, Smollett trained as a surgeon at Glasgow University, but moved to London to find fame as a dramatist. A visit back to Scotland inspired his final novel, a hilarious satire on life and manners of the time. His fiction is thought to have influenced Dickens.