Monthly Archives: December 2014

Best Books of 2014 – Birlinn’s Annual Round Up

We love all the books we publish; but we have our favourites too. For all of us here there is that one book that we really look forward to publishing. So here are our favourite books of the year:

Fatty O'LearyNeville Moir, Polygon’s Publishing Director

Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party by Alexander McCall Smith

McCall Smith possesses a wonderful talent for humour. As the many fans of his books would expect, his comic writing is elegant and witty but he can also be surprisingly daring, delivering punchlines that sometimes make you gasp.

In Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party our eponymous hero is the butt of a string of indignities and jokes, many of them achingly cruel. But in the end, McCall Smith imbues Fatty with such warmth and gentle nobility that the book transcends slapstick to become a minor triumph of the human spirit.

Otters Return to the RiverSally Pattle, Publicity Officer

Otters: Return to the River by Laurie Campbell and Anna Levin

There’s been so many books to choose from this year, but the decision wasn’t difficult in the end – Otters: Return to the River by Laurie Campbell and Anna Levin. This beautiful book is divided into sections following the seasons with Anna, a respected nature writer, providing the words – evocative essays on Laurie’s painstaking methods and the habitats he works in. But it is the images that make this book stand head and shoulders above the rest for me – Laurie has spent a lifetime photographing these beautiful animals and some of the shots in the book are simply stunning. This is a real good news story as well, otters were once hunted to near extinction, but today their numbers are growing and they are thriving in British waterways once again. Quite simply, this book is utterly joyful!

Chasm in Time, AAnna Marshall, Events Co-ordinator

A Chasm in Time: Scottish War Art and Artists in the Twentieth Century by Patricia Andrew

It is difficult to believe that a book of this importance doesn’t already exist. Not only is this a stunning publication but one that fills a previously overlooked gap in our art history knowledge. Patricia Andrew pitches this book perfecting between academia and general interest, while retaining the emotive power of the artworks. A deeply moving and thoroughly informative volume that I am proud to include on my bookshelves.

Troubled WatersTom Johnstone, Managing Editor

Troubled Waters: An Alice Rice Mystery by Gillian Galbraith

Troubled Waters is the fifth Alice Rice Mystery by Gillian Galbraith, and as a huge fan of the series I think possibly the best. From the dark wintry opening through to the climactic, deeply moving ending, it grips the reader relentlessly – though, since it is a book by Gillian Galbraith, there is much incidental humour and a we meet a glorious range of quirky characters along the way. Five stars!

Rocks Off final coverVikki Reilly, Sales & Marketing Liaison

Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones by Bill Janovitz

I always have a particular soft spot for our music books, and, for me, being a bit of a 60s freak, my book of the year is Rocks Off: 50 Tracks That Tell the Story of the Rolling Stones. It’s not your usual biography; it’s a brilliant mix of music writing, sociology and band history. You’ve got gossip, in-fighting, the 60’s cultural explosion plus all the muso chat I love around a pub table. There’s the infamous Redlands bust, Altamont and the South of France chaos that brought us Exile on Main Street, and the Gimme Shelter chapter is worth the price alone! Oh, lucky readers! You’ll want to read it with the turntable next to you…

Last-Witness_finalJulie Fergusson, Publicity, Sales and Events Assistant

The Last Witness by Denzil Meyrick

From the first chapter, I was gripped. Written by ex-policeman Denzil Meyrick, this is an authentic and well-researched crime thriller based in small-town Scotland. Dark and unpredictable, the mood is lightened by the distinctive humour of Daley’s partner, DS Scott, and the eccentric habits of the town’s inhabitants. The fast-moving plot is full of twists and surprises, as Denzil deftly begins to draw the different strands together into a surprising and dramatic conclusion.

Isn't All This BloodyEdward Crossan, Online and Digital Development

Isn’t all this Bloody: Scottish Writing from the First World War Edited by Trevor Royle

Because this year was the centenary of the commencement of World War I, I was particularly looking forward to the various anthologies and editions of war poetry that would be published. The less talked about prose and essays of the period is not always the first thing I would think about. But of course there were pages and pages of beautifully written prose inspired by the War. So my top pick of the year’s books has to be a collection of essays and prose that movingly and often shockingly conveys the dreadful horror and futility of war. Edited by military historian Trevor Royle and with names like: Buchan, MacDiarmid and Lewis Grassic Gibbon this book is a fitting tribute. Oh! And there is some poetry in there too!

Scottish BakingJennifer Bowden, Intern

Scottish Baking by Sue Lawrence

For a self-confessed baking fanatic, Sue Lawrence’s book on Scottish Baking is a dream come true. After 6 years living in Scotland I’d been dying to get my hands on a book that could teach me traditional recipes like Clootie Dumpling and Oatcakes, while still retaining a modern edge with additions such as Chocolate Cherry Traybake and Orkney Fudge Cheesecake.

The book is beautifully illustrated with mouth-watering photographs and the simple, clear instructions make it easy to replicate the delicious recipes inside. If I’d not bought it already, I’d be asking for it for Christmas.

There are plenty more for you to discover over on our website. Here are some Christmas picks for you.