Whether rediscovering battered, dog-eared novels from our own shelves or delving into something new, nothing beats opening the pages and embarking on a literary adventure, be it thrillers, crime, memoirs, classics – or whatever genre you like to curl up with. After being closed for several months, Scotland’s independent bookshops are reopening their doors and need our support. Here are our favourites.

1. Topping & Company, St Andrews

7 Greyfriars Garden, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9HG, 01334 585111. Open every day 9am-8.30pm

As a university town, St Andrews has no shortage of reading material and this bookshop offers an extra-special nook. The shelves are densely packed as the rolling library ladders swing by like something from your favourite movie. With 50,000 titles, including philosophy, psychology, history, non-fiction, fantasy and more, it is the biggest bookshop in St Andrews. There are hidden rooms for relaxed browsing and reading to make it into a full day’s visit. It is known for its book signings and author readings as well as hosting a podcast. Topping & Company could be considered a community in this small town, going above and beyond the typical definition of a bookshop.


2. Leakey’s Bookshop, Inverness

Church St, Inverness IV1 1EY, 01463 239947. Open Monday-Saturday 10am-5.30pm, closed Sunday

Leakey’s has one of the largest collections of second-hand books in Scotland. Established in 1979, the old Gaelic church is home to many rare finds and endless genres, with more than 100,000 volumes. The owners buy books from across the Highlands and further afield to bring joy to its customers, and let these books set the calm atmosphere inside. The shop is known for its striking interior and cosy setting with its wood-burning fire and heady scent from piles of books. Its spiral staircase, super comfy seats and multiple levels allow visitors to indulge in a first-class and authentic second-hand book experience. There’s a cafe, too. Bacon butties come recommended.


3. Golden Hare Books, Edinburgh

68 St Stephen Street, Stockbridge, Edinburgh, EH3 5AQ, 0131 225 7755. Open every day, 10am-6pm

What looks like a small, old building expands into a modern-looking bookshop once you step inside. The open space and fire make for a homely feel to read the unusual literature the owners hunt down, specialising in small presses and a great kid’s section. It has packed shelves and towering stacks of books that are great fun to browse. The bookshop typically has a packed calendar of events, such as raffles, open mics, readings and book groups (although these are subject to change due to current restrictions). LitFix is a scheme to redo your own bookshelves, run by Golden Hare, where they personalise recommendations for you.


4. Young’s Interesting Books, Glasgow

18 Skirving Street, Shawlands, G41 3AA, 0141 649 9599. Open Monday-Saturday 11am-5,30pm, Sunday 12pm-5pm

This quirky bookshop is anything but typical – a unique experience for every customer, regular or new, in a cute and comfortable setting. It is bursting with decorations (be it Christmas or Valentine’s Day) and plants. The shelves are packed with colourful books. This shop is about more than just exceptional finds and excellent books, as the staff share their love for literature and want every customer to find exactly what they are looking for. Although the shop itself may be small, the books are packed and organised, including local interests along with pulp fiction, crime and more.


5. Voltaire & Rousseau, Glasgow

12 Otago Lane, Glasgow, G12 8PP, 0141 339 1811. Likely to open Thursday (subject to change)

There are second-hand and rare editions galore that makes this a thrilling experience for bookworms. The cavernous shop is stacked from top to bottom. It may lack organisation but it’s a lot of fun. It’s the perfect place for a good old rummage to find those hidden gems. Features include a section where everything is £1 and a resident cat. A small walkway and a few stools can be found within the stacks of books. A beautiful spot to find everything you didn’t know you wanted.


6. Bookpoint, Dunoon

2A Ferry Brae, Dunoon, Argyll, PA23 7DJ, 01369 702377. Open Monday-Friday 9.30am-5pm, Saturday 10am-4pm, closed Sunday

This independent shop has everything: historical writing, art, poetry, travel writing and study books. Its ethos is to bring knowledge to the table in a fun and welcoming environment. There is a gift shop stocked with jewellery, bags and games, as well as a cafe. Bookpoint is fully categorised with specialised Scottish literature. There are secret reading spaces to discover, bright and light tables, with quotes decorating windows and books of quality and interest on every shelf.


7. Atkinson-Pryce Books, Biggar

27 High St, Biggar, ML12 6DA, 01899 221225. Open Tuesday-Saturday 10.30am-3.30pm, closed Monday

and Sunday

In a town of about 2,500 people, this bookshop has been a success for good reason. It’s a community hotspot, with seating and a fire and is usually used for reading groups and school trips. With everything from Scottish classics and local titles to study books, the knowledgeable staff help customers find books and make suggestions. It is possible to order almost any book with quick delivery. There’s also a brilliant young adult’s section. The shop has a small second-hand and mini-gift section.


8. Lighthouse, Edinburgh

43-45 West Nicolson Street, EH8 9DB, 0131 662 9112. Open 11am-6pm Monday-Saturday, 11.30am-5pm Sunday

Known as Edinburgh’s radical bookshop, this safe space for all readers was nominated Scotland’s Best Independent Bookshop in 2020. Filled with 10,000 titles you will find no shortage of history, politics, fiction and children’s books – however, this store only stocks books they morally agree with. This is reflected in the titles focusing on feminism, environmentalism, LGBT+ writing, translated fiction and more. During lockdown they replicated the community of readers online with newsletters, as well as recommendations and readings with focus on working-class, BAME, queer, disabled and local writers. It is hoped the shop’s regular book clubs and events can restart soon.


9. The Bookshop, Wigtown

17 North Main Street, DG8 9HL, 01988 402499. Open 9am-5pm Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday

This is the oldest bookshop in Scotland’s national book town with one of the largest second-hand book collections.

Their shelves are more than a mile long and filled with around 100,000 books. On an average day they receive about 100 second-hand books from people so there is an endless flow of books moving in and out. It thrives on tourism and is a hotspot for visitors who want a quirky and interesting experience, from the architecture to the books. After reopening just a few weeks ago they say they are receiving more customers and books, and business is booming.


10. Hyndland Bookshop, Glasgow

143 Hyndland Road, G12 9JA, 0141 334 5522. Open 10am-6pm Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm Saturday, closed Sunday

In the west end of Glasgow, they are known for unusual titles. There are approximately 3,500 books for customers to browse in a friendly atmosphere. The shop is dog-friendly and has a children’s book collection. After being busy with mail orders over lockdown, Hyndland Bookshop is hoping to return a bit of normality to people’s lives.


11. The Portobello Bookshop

46 Portobello High Street, Edinburgh, EH15 1DA, 0131 629 6756. Open 11am-5pm Tuesday-Saturday

During the slow reopening of bookshops, the community of independent businesses in Portobello have been there to help one another. Just a few minutes walk from the beach, this bookshop has opened up with major support from locals. It’s important to the owners that its welcoming, comfortable and accessible, especially for the many families that visit the extensive children’s section. Virtual author readings are being broadcast to continue their popular events programme safely. The shop also sells board games, stationery, local artwork and branded tote bags. During lockdown, it turned their online store into a success with orders across the UK and US, and locals can now click and collect easily. The growing local support was the silver lining of lockdown.