Look Who’s In… The Scotsman Books of the Year

  07 Dec '20   |  Posted by: Birlinn

From an outstanding year of Birlinn books, the Scotsman highlighted no less than ELEVEN of our titles in their Books of the Year supplement. You can read the individual reviews by searching by title or author at

Who was selected?

A Large Measure of Snow by Denzil Meyrick: ‘the novel weaves in a beautiful sense of place and myth… there isn’t a spare sentence. It sings with the evocation of time, place and people, and the humour and truth behind the fishermen’s tales’

The Blood is Still by Douglas Skelton: ‘Skelton’s talent is casting his descriptive eyes on the familiar and rendering truthful characters with a believable backstory’

The Unremembered Places by Patrick Baker: ‘anyone reading this engaging book will learn much and have pleasure in doing so’

One Week in April by Maggie Craig: ‘This is an excellent book, the best and fairest account of the Radical Rising i have read’

Treasure Island: True Tales by a Shipwreck Hunter by Alec Crawford: ‘you don’t have to be a sea-going enthusiast to find it fascinating… an unusually likeable and interesting memoir’

A Quite Impossible Proposal by Andrew Drummond: ‘Andrew Drummond has pulled off a rare feat – telling a telling a fictional tale and then writing about it again as fat… A Quite Impossible proposal is a detailed examination of an overlooked chapter in Scotland’s transport history that is as welcome as the fictional foray that preceded it.’

Native: Life in a Vanishing Landscape by Patrick Laurie: ‘remarkable and profoundly enjoyable to read… not only a practical account of the working of the farm, and those extraordinary moments of poetry and communion, but also much reflection on the history of a region and also the story of the profound personal sadness of childlessness as experienced by Laurie and his wife in a farming life built around cycles of successful breading… It’s importance is huge, setting down a vital market in the 21st century debate about how we use and abuse the land.’

The Only Gaijin in the Village by Iain Maloney – ‘a delightful tumble into village life, complete with a vivid cast of characters and a beautiful sense of place’

Riders on the Storm by Alastair McIntosh: ‘This is a very good book because it is balanced and positive. There is no despair here. Some of the science he discusses is beyond me but the book is welcome because it is free from the hysterical emotions commonly evident on both sides of the Climate Change debate’

Later That Day by Andrew Greig: ‘For anyone pondering life’s bigger questions at this time of crisis, it’s hard to imagine a better companion’

In a Time of Distance and other poems by Alexander McCall Smith: ‘he never beats the big drum or shouts his wares in the marketplace. His poetic voice is conversational, companionable, friendly… it is such books, books like this one, that in a time of strident and dishonest polemics readers should attend to with a feeling ear.’

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