Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The Books I Bought Home

My holiday book shopping was quite restrained, not least because it would have been very tempting just to buy a ton of cookbooks (it didn't seem very sensible, but it was tempting), restraint aside I'm really pleased with my finds.

I've already mentioned the Elementum journal I found in the Borders (happily the Mainstreet trading company was a sensible comfort stop for us, their cake is as good as the book selection. Go if you can). I'm still delighted with it and looking forward to collecting the back issues.

The Scottish section of Inverness Waterstones yielded Hugh Trevor-Roper's 'The Invention of Scotland'. He's a historian I find fun to read (which certainly made him stand out when I first came across his work during A levels). This was written in the 70's when a devolved parliament was being mooted (Trevor-Roper apparently not a fan) but was left unfinished when it became clear it wasn't going to happen. The blurb suggests it's provocative so that's something to look forward to.

'Who Built Scotland: 25 Journeys in Search of a Nation' is published by Historic Environment Scotland. It should be an interesting companion to the Trevor-Roper book as it looks to be much more about myth making than myth busting. It's also an interesting mix of buildings and places, but I really bought it because Kathleen Jamie is one of the contributors and she's always worth reading. Alistair Moffat is another and I like his writing too. The cover is an absolutely awful watercolour of Mousa Broch in Shetland, so bad I almost didn't buy the book.

'Who Built Scotland' was buy one get one half price so when I overcame my dislike of the cover I picked up 'Tales From The Dead of Night', a collection of 13 classic ghost stories. It has a great cover, and a decent looking selection of stories. I have a weakness for anthologies like this and being half price clinched the deal.

I saw High Albania by Edith Durham in Leakey's in Inverness last time I was up there. I couldn't make up my mind so left it, but it was still there so this time I got it. It's probably more for my Virago collection than for reading but it feels like a nice find either way.

The book I'm really pleased with though is 'The Journal of Sir Walter Scott'. I found this in Ullapool, looking a bit battered and on sale. I've kind of wanted it for a while but it's never been a priority. I love Scott to the point that I don't really understand why he's so unfashionable. Not all of his later work might stand up to scrutiny, you have to slow down and read him at the pace he dictates, and he does like to go on a bit (though I'm coming to see that as a joke he plays with the reader). I know too that his unionist politics possibly don't help him - but when he's good he's great.

The journal, which covers the last 5 years of his life, even in edited form covers more than 800 pages, but even a quick look suggests this is good Scott. It's full of interesting details about day to day life in the 1820's, it's also funny, and charming. This is a man you'd want to meet at a dinner party and count as a friend. God only knows where this doorstop of a thing is going to live though.


  1. I enjoyed reading about the books you found. "Tales from the Dead of Night" sounds wonderful!

    1. I'm looking forward to it, a nice bit of self indulgence.