A SERIES of events is being held throughout Scotland to celebrate Bookshop Day on Saturday, October 14.

Book signings and readings will take place in bookshops across the country from Jedburgh to Orkney.

In Islay, The Celtic House will host locally based author and documentary-maker Les Wilson, who will present his new book Orwell’s Island: George, Jura and 1984.

Meanwhile, The Book Nook in Stewarton will see Scottish music journalist and broadcaster Billy Sloan share stories from his new book One Love, One Life: Stories From The Stars, in an event with music and refreshments.

Later in the year, The Book Nook (below) will also host an appearance from actor Jordan Cramond who is appearing in the forthcoming film adaptation of inspirational novel White Bird, alongside Helen Mirren and Gillian Anderson. He will read excerpts from the book and talk to the children about his acting career.

The National:

In Jedburgh on Saturday, J O Morgan, whose most recent novel Appliance was a finalist for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, will talk about his work at Heron And Willow while Waterstones Stirling will be holding a book signing with Donna Ashworth for her new Wild Hope poetry collection.

Also on Saturday, The Orcadian Bookshop in Kirkwall will hold a book signing for Allyson Shaw, pictured, and her book Ashes And Stones which has just been released in paperback. In addition, there will be a special storytime reading to launch Sallianne Smales’s new book The Smoozles Book 3 – The Curious Tale Of The Eye Blinks And The Selkie.

To mark Bookshop Day, the Sunday National asked three independent bookshops to recommend 10 books that are perfect for autumn reading. Some are classics, some are creepy, some are newly published.

Mainstreet Trading, St Boswells


The Secret Diaries Of Charles Ignatius Sancho by Paterson Joseph: Infectious, insightful, and important. If you read just one book this year, make it this one.

The Last Witch Of Scotland by Philip Paris: A story of love, loyalty and sacrifice, inspired by the true story of the last person to be executed for witchcraft in Britain.

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray: Told from multiple perspectives, all of life is here in one slightly crazy Irish family. Visceral, heartbreaking, violent and at times, very funny.

The Turnglass by Gareth Rubin: Two books within one cover. An addictive mystery. When you finish, you’ll want to start it all over again.

The Winter List by S G MacLean: For fans of The Bookseller Of Inverness, a more gripping historical drama, this time set during the restoration, as the Stuarts are restored to the throne.

The Ghost Ship by Kate Mosse: Kate Mosse hooks her reader in from the very first page and brings history to life, making you feel like you are there, sailing the high seas with the Ghost Ship’s crew.


Papyrus by Irene Vallejo: A history of endless fascination and a love letter to books. Every word is gold dust.

O Brother by John Niven: A painful, but also painfully funny, memoir that takes as its starting point the suicide of John Niven’s brother, Garry. Don’t let that put you off.

Rogues by Patrick Radden Keefe: The perfect “dip-in” collection of true stories from the author of Empire Of Pain.


Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell: When Christopher visits his grandfather in the Highlands, he accidentally discovers a portal to the land Archipelago. A modern classic in the making.

The Edinburgh Bookshop


The Dark Between The Trees by Fiona Barnett: Partly set during the Civil War, and partly present day, this is a wonderfully atmospheric chiller, ideal for dark nights. A parliamentary force is ambushed and flees into the deep, dark woods. Next morning, some of the trees are no longer there ... In the present, an all-women team of academics is retracing the route of this event to see how much may be true, how much legend, only to find themselves in a forest that just isn’t right.

The Witches Of Vardo by Anya Bergman: Anya Bergman drew on actual historical trial records of Norwegian witchcraft cases for this novel, so although fictionalised, all the women here were real people, caught up in that mania where simply being a woman who ventured an opinion was enough to see you marked as a witch, with all that would entail. It is an engrossing novel, while the factual side of it will also make your blood boil at the injustice.

Boys In The Valley by Philip Fracassi: A deliciously creepy and disturbing, slow-burn horror that has something of The Exorcist about it. A Catholic orphanage in rural America in the early 1900s gets a visit from the local sheriff carrying a dying fugitive purported to have carried out dreadful crimes, including human sacrifice. When he dies, it’s as if whatever malignant force was within him now enters the boys and staff of the isolated, snow-bound orphanage.

Amazing Grace Adams by Fran Littlewood: Grace is a grown woman who is having a really bad day and starts to lose it. Real, funny and should go down a treat with those who loved Lessons In Chemistry.


Emperor Of Rome by Mary Beard: New history reading from Mary Beard is always welcome, and here she is examining the lives and deeds of the men who ruled mighty Rome – from the pragmatic and sensible elder statesmen to the classic mad emperors of so many legends, looking at the truth behind what they did, and how they actually worked on a day-to-day basis to run such a massive empire.

Ultra-Processed People by Chris van Tulleken: This book looks at what the average UK diet of 70% processed food is doing to our bodies, and whether it really should be considered food. Mainstream medical science writing at its most gripping.

O Brother by John Niven: Niven looks back on growing up in Irvine in the 70s, obsessions with The Clash and punk and, sadly, a brother with some serious issues. Funny, sad and utterly readable.


The Stolen Songbird by Judith Eagle: We wish this author was more well-known. Judith Eagle writes fantastic and gripping historical crime capers for 8-to-12-year-olds and her latest, The Stolen Songbird, sees a young girl (and her pet rabbit!) facing a gang of nefarious art thieves. This tense and dramatic standalone will suit kids who have grown up on Enid Blyton or enjoyed the Murder Most Unladylike series.

Adia Kelbara And The Circle Of Shamans by Isi Hendrix: This action-packed adventure is possibly our favourite children’s book of 2023. We especially loved the concept of a “for-profit” magic school just indulging wealthy kids who THINK they have powers.

A Practical Present For Philippa Pheasant by Briony May Smith: Lovely autumnal colours fill the pages of this charming picture book, new in paperback, about a pheasant who hatches a scheme to help her fellow critters safely cross the road (it involves wearing high-vis and carrying a giant lollipop!)

The Book Nook, Stirling


Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon: “You can tell me, man, what’s the English for sotter, or greip, or smore, or pleiter, gloaming or glunching or well-kenspeckled? And if you said gloaming was sunset you’d fair be a liar – and you’re hardly that, Mr Gordon.” The story of a small, rural community set around the First World War and how it copes (or doesn’t) with the transition to a more modern way of life. Heartbreaking at times, but ultimately a story of resilience as well as an incredibly sincere love letter to Scotland, its land, and its people.

Circe by Madeline Miller: “But in solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.” Stunningly written, this is a retelling from Greek mythology that revolves around a goddess witch who has been banished to an enchanted island that is only seen once every ten years and is unreachable by men.

Hare House by Sally Hinchcliffe: “We soon fell silent too, and above and around us came the murmur of all the countless branches; a distant sort of a noise, ungraspable yet pervasive, like voices in another room.” Scotland, the gothic and witchcraft – three things we love in a book! A young woman arrives in Scotland having left London under mysterious circumstances. But among the tiny roads, dykes and scattered houses, something more sinister lurks – local tales of witchcraft, claymores and young men sent mad.

Wild Spaces by S L Coney: “There are two kinds of family,” his father says. “The kind you share genes with, and the kind you welcome into your heart.” A young boy’s idyllic family life is disturbed by the arrival of his strange grandfather. An uneasy and unusual coming-of-age horror novel about the bonds of family. This is such a beautifully written novella – we will be haunted by it for a long time.

Edgar Allan Poe: “Death approaches; and the shadow which foreruns him has thrown a softening influence over my spirit.” No autumn reading list would be complete for us without the stories of the master of Gothic horror himself, Edgar Allan Poe. There’s nothing better than spending dark autumn days being drawn into tales of madness, death and body decomposition.

Arguing With The Dead by Alex Nye: “As everyone was fond of telling me, it is a mistake to live in the past ... I am left only with the leavings, scattered about my desk, falling gently in my heart like leaves from a tree that is slowly dying.” Inspired by the life of one of the most revered female authors of the 19th century – Mary Shelley. A beautifully told and haunting tale that expertly blends the line between fact and fiction.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters: “And perhaps there is a limit to the grieving that the human heart can do. As when one adds salt to a tumbler of water, there comes a point where simply no more will be absorbed.” Set in post-war Britain, a doctor is called to assist a patient in a once-great estate where the family are plagued by a haunting presence. We will never forget how we felt the first time we reached the climax of this novel. See also: Literally everything else by Sarah Waters.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: “I am glad my case is not serious! But these nervous troubles are dreadfully depressing. John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him.” A haunting novella that details the horrors of a traditional marriage and of a woman’s place in the Victorian age. A gothic and a feminist classic for a reason!

Beloved Poison by E S Thomson: “Have a care,” I hissed. “I am not what I seem, and I can poison you so vilely that you will scream for my forgiveness.” Macabre historical fiction set in the world of Victorian medicine. A young apothecary explores the mystery of six tiny coffins uncovered in the chapel of a dilapidated infirmary. Scottish historical crime with a particularly fascinating protagonist. This is the first of an incredible series and we can’t recommend them enough.


The Nature Of Autumn by Jim Crumley: “Because autumn, in my mind, is a tapped kaleidoscope, a shifting sorcery of shapes and shades, a revitalising of the wild year after the too-long dirge of late summer, a maker of daring moods. Because if a human life can be represented by the poets and songwriters as a year, [then] I am in the autumn of that year myself.” A poetic and gentle celebration of autumn and the change it causes to the Scottish landscape. Perfect for readers who love to romanticise this wonderful season, and a good reminder of the beauty of Scotland and its wildlife.