Scottish Teenage Book Prize nominees share their top reads

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Today, the shortlist for the Scottish Teenage Book Trust was announced, with Keith Gray’s The Last Soldier, Joan Lennon’s Silver Skin and Claire McFall’s Black Cairn Point all making the cut.

Want to get involved? Grab the books and get reading! You can then register to vote online, and have your say in who you think deserves the title of the best read for teenagers in Scotland today.

Ahead of the shortlist’s announcement, we asked the three authors to share their top reads set in Scotland, for those of you after a bit of reading inspiration. Here’s what they had to say…

Joan Lennon

Beneath by Gill Arbuthnott

An atmospheric tale, set in 16th century Scotland, that grips you from the first words.

Exodus by Julie Bertagna

I love stories that take something from the present – like climate change – and follow it through into the future, and this book does that fabulously.

Whispers in the Graveyard by Theresa Breslin

Solomon’s vivid, troubled world draws you in and keeps you reading.

Crow Boy by Philip Caveney

A fast paced page-turner, moving between Edinburgh of the Black Death and shifting versions of the present.

Daemon Parallel by Roy Gill

Upside-down houses, sinister twists of yarn, meat-eating curtains – this is a book bulging with great ideas and amazing characters.

Keith Gray

Exodus by Julie Bertagna

This futuristic drowned-world fantasy not only predicted society’s current Eco-anxiety but also the whole YA obsession with the apocalypse. It set the bar pretty high for everything else that followed.

The Witness by James Jauncey

More speculative adventure fiction but this time with a political perceptiveness often lacking in YA. A race, a chase and a quest for kinship through terrific Highland scenery.

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

High adventure never grows old and modern readers would be crazy to dismiss this. It’s a masterclass in the art of exciting, characterful storytelling.

The Incredible Adam Spark by Alan Bissett

Falkirk’s very own superhero, Adam Spark, is a fabulous character and his story is rude, raw, hilarious and heart-felt. It’s also a compassionate portrait of growing up with learning disabilities.

The Witching Hour by Elizabeth Laird

Based on historical records (and the author’s own ancestors) this is a scarily compelling story of 17th Century witches on the Isle of Bute. Scotland’s very own Salem?

Claire McFall

For Love of a Horse (the Jinny series) by Patricia Leitch

This series is a bit old now, but I was horse-mad as a young girl and I LOVED these books. The depiction of life in the Highlands was enthralling and a little bit scary: riding to school awesome; getting belted by a teacher terrifying! (They don’t still do that BTW… the books were first published in the seventies). Despite their age, the series is still a brill read. If you like horses, you’ll love it.

Crossing the Line by Gillian Philip

I came across this book when I was doing the Scottish Children’s Book Award with my S3 class and as I read the last page I thought: man, I wish I’d written that. The main character Nick is a thug with a heart and the story is gritty and exciting.

Hieroglyphics and other stories by Anne Donovan

This is a bit different – it’s a collection of short stories. I’ll make a confession – Scots sometimes scares me, especially Burns, because I’m not always 100% sure I know what it means! These stories are written in modern Scots – Glaswegian – and they’re funny and heart-wrenching by turn. If you’re a little intimidated by the idea of Scots, give these a go!

Harry Potter series – ALL OF THEM! By J K Rowling

I have read this series again and again and again. The books are magical, the characters feel like real people to me and – most importantly, in my opinion – the series drew a whole new generation of young people into reading.

Fat Boy Swim by Catherine Forde

This book just makes me happy! It’s funny, and it brings my West of Scotland upbringing right back to me. I read it a lot with pupils at school and it has never failed to go down a storm. Love it!

Claire, Keith and Joan are all shortlisted for the inaugural Scottish Teenage Book Prize, run by Scottish Book Trust and set up to celebrate the most popular teen books by Scottish authors. You can read about their books and register to vote at

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