The Perfect Reads for Long Winter Nights

  19 Dec '23   |  Posted by: Birlinn

December, with its blustery winds and long, dark nights, is an ideal time for reading. With some time off work and school, ’tis the season to curl up by the fireside with a brilliant book and a warm drink, watching snow (or more often, rain) out the window while you escape into new literary worlds. Check out our list of the perfect cosy books to add to your winter TBR!

Tales for Twilight

First, though it may no longer be spooky season, these classic Scottish ghost stories are timeless. Besides, it’s no secret that chilly winter evenings have inspired incredible haunting literature – A Christmas Carol can be considered the world’s most famous ghost story! Tales for Twilight is a wonderfully eerie collection that includes the work of some of Scotland’s most prolific authors, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Muriel Spark, Sir Walter Scott, George MacKay Brown, and more. With Scotland’s centuries-long tradition of oral storytelling, often including poems and ballads with supernatural themes, it’s no surprise that there are so many brilliantly unnerving ghost stories that can be compiled into one excellent collection.

Kinloch Tales by Denzil Meyrick

Denzil Meyrick is one of Scotland’s finest crime writers, and you may be familiar with his successful DCI Daley series. However, the Kinloch Tales show another, more nostalgic and humorous side of his writing. These are three stories, together in one volume for the first time, which take place in the eccentric town of Kinloch in midwinter. From spectral Vikings to bold voyages to old rivalries coming to light, these stories are packed with adventure and delight.

So Many Lives and All of Them Are Yours by Ron Butlin

Ron Butlin’s first novel, The Sound of My Voice, was hugely impactful in Scotland’s late twentieth-century literary scene. So Many Lives and All of Them Are Yours is the long-awaited sequel, which has been published this past Autumn to glowing reviews. The novel sees the return of Morris Magellan, who is at an all-time low. After losing his job, his house, and his family life, he has decided to risk everything in pursuit of his true dream ­– music. Will he be able to outrun his past and fight his pervasive bad habits? Set in the Borders, sixties London and present-day Edinburgh, this engaging new novel is written with humour and compassion, representing the very human desire to make the most of one’s time before it is too late.

Of Stone and Sky by Merryn Glover

This time of year is often one spent with family, reflecting on relationships, family history and traditions passed down from generation to generation. Merryn Glover’s enthralling novel, Of Stone and Sky, weaves together inter-generational stories of one Highland family over several decades. The catalyst for this evocative recollection is the sudden disappearance of Highland shepherd Colvin Munro, whose belongings are discovered scattered across the Cairngorm mountains. What follows is the revelation of this family’s past and present, shown in both the jubilant and heart-wrenching moments which defined them. Set on a farming estate in the upper reaches of the River Spey, this book speaks to the bonds between people, their land and way of life.

Weak Teeth by Lynsey May

In the dead of winter, sometimes we need to be reminded of warmer times. Weak Teeth, the punchy debut from Lynsey May, follows Ellis, whose life has irrevocably changed one scorching Edinburgh summer. Her partner has fallen for someone else, leaving her back in her childhood bedroom with nothing but a drained bank account, a heap of heartbreak, and a mouth full of unreliable teeth. As everything spirals out of control, Ellis will have to rediscover how to trust herself and fight for the parts of her life worth preserving.

Stellar Debut of Galactica MacFee by Alexander McCall Smith

When it comes to warmth and humour, nothing beats the delightful 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall Smith. The Stellar Debut of Galactica MacFee is the 17th volume in the world’s longest-running serialised novel. New instalments appear in the Scotsman every August, but are published as individual books in the Autumn, meaning that if you’re a fast reader looking for a wonderful world to escape into, you could definitely binge-read the whole series on your winter break! Set in Edinburgh’s New Town, this latest volume sees the return of all the quirky neighbours, from young Bertie and his strict mother Irene, to Angus and Domenico, Bruce, Matthew and Elspeth, and even some intriguing new characters, like Bertie’s classmate Galactica MacFee. Equally charming and thought-provoking, this series is perfect for some festive wintry reading.

You can get these brilliant books from your local bookshop before Christmas, or check them out online if you’re not in a rush:

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