Books on the Borders

Take me to the Borders (by book)

There’s no substitute for experiencing in the flesh the area that inspired the works of literary greats like Sir Walter Scott and John Buchan, but we’ve done our best to bring you a flavour of the Scottish Borders in book form. Dive in, explore the landscapes and the culture and find inspiration for your next trip to the Borders.



Whisky Galore, by Compton Mackenzie

One of Scotland’s all-time favourites set during the Second World War at the height of rationing, it tells the story of a small Hebridean community attempting to liberate 50,000 cases of whisky from the wreck of a cargo ship while evading the authorities. Based on a real-life incident which happened on Mackenzie’s adopted home of Barra, this classic tale of traditional island life turned upside down will charm you with its dry Scottish wit.

Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram, by Iain Banks

Ever dreamt of a whisky-tasting tour through Scotland? This written account of a road-trip around the country’s distilleries in search of the ‘perfect dram’ is the best substitute for the real deal. Join the celebrated novelist as he travels the length and breadth of the country – via island ferries, single-lane Highland roads and even bicycle – on his mission to visit some of Scotland’s most famous distilleries as well as its hidden gems. Filled with insightful and witty observations about the whisky-making process and the people and places encountered along the way, this is a rip-roaring and informative delve into the unique history and enduring appeal of this iconic spirit.

No Stranger to Death, by Janet O’Kane

The first in the Borders Mysteries series of “cosy crime meets tartan noir” is well worth a read. Recently-widowed GP, Dr Zoe Moreland, moves to the Scottish Borders for a fresh start and a quiet life. However, her hopes of a quiet life are dashed when she finds the grisly remains of a body in the village’s Guy Fawkes bonfire and gets caught up in the resulting murder investigation.

Mary Queen of Scots, by Antonia Fraser

The dramatic life of Mary Queen of Scots has entranced writers, artists and film makers quite unlike any other famous Scot. As far from a dull history book as you can get, this best-selling page-turner of a biography is exciting, moving and meticulously researched. It’s a fantastic companion for anyone wanting to retrace the steps of the tragic Queen while visiting Scotland.

The Hidden Ways by Alistair Moffat

Moffat traverses the lost paths of Scotland, down Roman roads tramped by armies, warpaths and pilgrim routes, drove roads and rail roads, turnpikes and sea roads, tracing the arteries through which our nation’s lifeblood has flowed in a bid to understand how our history has left its mark upon our landscape.

Scottish Borders Folk Tales by James P. Spence

This lively and entertaining collection of folk tales from the Scottish Borders, written in the local dialect, is rich in stories both tall and true, ancient and recent, dark and funny, fantastical and powerful. Well-loved, magical stories are retold in an engaging style and accompanied by beautiful illustrations.

Scottish Borders: 40 Favourite Walks by Robbie Porteous

Does what it says on the tin! A fabulous collection of walks that will take you on a journey through the rich and varied countryside and the many abbeys and castles of the Scottish Borders. The perfect planning companion for your next trip! From high hill treks rewarded with far-reaching views, to sedate riverside strolls which pass through centuries of fascinating history, these 40 varied walks offer something for everyone.