Tag Archives: James Robertson

Book Week Scotland – My Top Ten Scottish Books

I love book lists – browsing them for things I haven’t heard of, getting an idea of other people’s reading habits. Today I decided to make my own.

Monday saw the start of Book Week Scotland, an initiative run by the Scottish Book Trust to promote reading in Scotland. There has been lots going on on twitter, and you can read what it’s all about here.

They have some pretty awesome book lists on a variety of topics from Best Twisted Romances to 10 Books with Really Good Bad Guys. Have a look at their full list of lists here.

A lovely example of some of the things they are doing is the treasure hunt to find paper sculptures (the first to be won this week was based on Alasdair Gray’s Lanark). This all links back to a story a last year when a mysterious sculptor left a paper sculpture in the Scottish Poetry Library (pictured above) with a message in support of libraries. You can read the full, charming story on the Scottish Poetry Library’s website and take a look at some of the beautiful paper sculptures here.

So naturally, all of this focus on books and reading in Scotland has gotten me thinking about my top Scottish books and what I would recommend to people as a starter. My list, and a few thoughts on each book, is below. As ever, I have missed out so many that I love but wanted to include a few that are a bit different from what might be set texts when it comes to Scottish literature. Quite the mixed bag! Here goes…

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Literary Blog Hop Giveaway!

Please note that the blog hop is now finished.

Over the next couple of days I will be taking part in The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop, which is kindly hosted by Leeswammes’ Blog. This time, 50 different book blogs will be offering giveaways of various literary delights, and all of the books on offer will be literary fiction or something with a bit of literary merit (for example poetry or non-fiction).

From today (Saturday 27th of October) until Wednesday the 31st of October, you can hop on over to the 50 different book blogs which are all taking part in the giveaway too. Click on the links in the list at the bottom of this post to see what they’re offering and discover some brilliant new book blogs!

My Giveaway

The last time the blog hop was running, I was lucky enough to win two books so for my first ever book giveaway I decided it would be lovely to return the favour. I will be giving away two books, which are open to readers worldwide, so long as The Book Depository delivers to your country (check here to see if your country is one of them).

The books on offer from my blog are as follows *cue drumroll*…

1. And the Land Lay Still by James Robertson

And the Land Lay Still was the first book that I read this year and the first book that I reviewed for my blog. It left a lasting impression and I think it really is a modern Scottish classic, encompassing a myriad of aspects of Scottish culture, characters and politics. Click here for my full review.





2. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss

The History of Love is one of my favourite books of those I have read this year. I loved Krauss’ style of writing, the moments of beauty throughout the novel, and its exploration of loss and love and how humans cope with both in different ways. Thinking back to it now makes me want to read it all over again! Read my review of it here.




You can enter the giveaway to win either one or both of the books. To enter, please read the rules and then leave a comment below.

The Rules

1. You do not have to have a blog to enter this giveaway – it is open to everyone.
2. You need a post-office recognised address where you can receive packages, in a country that The Book Depository delivers to.
3. You do not have to be a follower or become a follower, although if you like my blog I hope you will! You can follow by email (see the Follow button in the side bar on the right).
4. Leave a comment below – please include the title of which book(s) you’d like to receive in your comment and an email address where I can contact you if you win.
5. You can enter the giveaways until Wednesday, October the 31st, after which I will close my giveaway.
6. Please note that double or invalid entries will be removed.
7. I will notify the winners by email. If you’re lucky enough to be a winner please answer my email within 3 days; if no reply is received by then I’ll announce a new winner.
8. The books will be sent out from The Book Depository.

I think that covers everything – good luck, and thank you for dropping in on my blog!

  1. Leeswammes
  2. Read in a Single Sitting
  3. Ephemeral Digest
  4. My Devotional Thoughts
  5. Devouring Texts
  6. Tony’s Reading List
  7. Nishita’s Rants and Raves
  8. Too Fond
  9. The Parrish Lantern
  10. Kristi Loves Books
  11. The Book Club Blog
  12. Sam Still Reading
  13. Silver’s Reviews (USA)
  14. Bibliosue
  15. Heavenali
  16. Under My Apple Tree
  17. Misfortune of Knowing (North America)
  18. Lena Sledge’s Blog
  19. Lost Generation Reader
  20. Seaside Book Nook
  21. The Relentless Reader
  22. Rikki’s Teleidoscope
  23. Monique Morgan
  24. That READioactive Book Blog
  25. kaggsysbookisahramblings
  26. Ragdoll Books Blog
  27. Kate’s Library
  28. The Book Garden
  29. Uniflame Creates
  30. Curiosity Killed The Bookworm
  1. Ciska’s Book Chest
  2. The Book Divas Reads
  3. Alex in Leeds
  4. Simple Clockwork
  5. Bluestalking (USA)
  6. Fresh Ink Books
  7. Sweeping Me
  8. Giraffe Days
  9. Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book (USA)
  10. Books Thoughts Adventures (USA)
  11. emmalikestoread
  12. Colorimetry
  13. Page Plucker
  14. Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity
  15. 2606 Books and Counting
  16. Book Nympho
  17. She-Wolf Reads
  18. The Little Reader Library (Europe)
  19. Booklover Book Reviews
  20. Dolce Bellezza

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‘Scottish Friction / Scottish Fiction’: A Review of And the Land Lay Still by James Robertson

And the Land Lay Still UK cover

I started reading James Robertson’s And the Land Lay Still at an oddly appropriate moment. David Cameron had just lain down the gauntlet over the referendum on Scottish independence and Alex Salmond and dozens of MSPs and MPs dove in to give their opinion. The novel is preoccupied with Scottish identity, and thoughts of independence are never far from the surface, exploring the social and political landscape of Scotland through various voices.

James Robertson’s novel introduces itself with an epigraph of Scotland’s late Makar, (poet laureate) Edwin Morgan’s poem ‘The Summons’ hinting at the impossibility of writing and fully understanding a nation’s history:

“like a slate we could not clean / of characters, yet could not read, or write / our answers on, or smash, or take with us”.

I would like to add my own suggested poem from the former Makar (probably known mostly to fans of Scottish band Idlewild) that of ‘Scottish Fiction’ (1). It seemed a really fitting description of what James Robertson is trying to evoke in his novel, that difficulty of defining Scotland, its people and its literature –

“It isn’t in the castle / It isn’t in the mist / It’s a calling of the waters / As they break to show / The new Black Death / With reactors aglow”.

In his novel, Robertson presents various fragments and snapshots of Scottish life and the novel is framed by Michael Pendreich’s attempt to organise his father Angus’s photography for an exhibition, and the exhibition itself. The book doesn’t follow a linear pattern and in Mike’s attempts to rearrange his father’s portfolio, we come to see how little chronology matters, and how a nation can only begin to be portrayed through multiple voices from different generations and backgrounds.

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