SSoP Podcast Episode 05 — Scotland: Wraiths, Rebels, and Royalty

SSoP Podcast Episode 05 — Scotland: Wraiths, Rebels, and Royalty

Monday, 3 February, 2020

Whatever sort of stereotypical notions you have of Scotland are probably not too far off: a rebellious national spirit, a predilection for ghost stories, an affinity for smart plaids, and an appreciation of a wee dram o’ whisky. Scotland is all this and so much more.

In the city and out in nature, the scenery is craggy and brutally beautiful. There are castles and towers and keeps around every curve in the road. And the sheep! So many adorable sheep and cattle. You can head down the pub for an evening of singing folk songs — and, if you’re lucky, you might be told an appropriately moody story by an old Scot who can really spin a yarn.

The geography and weather of Scotland are characters in their own right. The southern part of the country nearer to England is moorland, and in the north are the Highlands with sharp mountains and sharper weather. The Atlantic coast on the west is like a serrated knife, indented with deep, cold lochs — and islands with long histories dot the ocean on both sides of the country.

In this episode, we discuss books that swept us away to Scotland: an Edinburgh ghost story, a memoir by one of Scotland’s most beloved sons, a story collection that celebrates the Scottish tradition of oral storytelling, and two books that explore the unique communities on islands in the Outer Hebrides.

We also enjoy a cozy chat with Tom Hodges, the owner of one of our all-time favorite bookshops, Typewronger Books in Edinburgh.


Read the full transcript of Episode 05: Scotland.

The Blackhouse

buy | read review

The Crofter and the Laird

buy | read review

City of Ghosts

buy | read review

Haunted Voices

buy | read review

Made In Scotland

buy | read review

His Bloody Project

buy | read review

The House Between Tides

buy | read review

Broken Ground

buy | read review

The Lewis Man

buy | read review

The Chessmen

buy | read review

other books we mentioned


our charming guest

These are the colors that I’m going to fly under — that we’re a bookshop and a typewriter repair service. We believe in both reading and writing. — Tom Hodges

Tom Hodges is the owner of Typewronger Books. He has previously worked at some of the best bookshops to be found: Heywood Hill in London, Shakespeare and Company in Paris, and Desperate Literature in Madrid. In our talk, he walks through his Bohemian days, smoking Gauloises on the banks of the Seine, his decision to start a bookstore, his history of typewriter repair, and his favorite books set in his home city of Edinburgh.

Cool Stuff Mentioned by Tom

The Edinburgh Tool Library: The UK’s first tool lending library. {more}.

The Leith Walk Policebox: The Leith walk policebox is a pop up venu supporting entrepreneurs, creatives, foodies, and charities by offering flexible and affordable space on one of Edinburgh’s busiest streets. {more}

Cut for Time: Bookshop Recommendations: We could talk to Tom all day about bookshops and whisky, but edits are a hard fact of life. We had to cut his bookshop recommendations from the audio, but here they are:

Tom’s Book Recommendations:


other cool stuff we talked about

Wigtown, a.k.a., Scotland’s National Book Town: You can visit the official site for more info about the town and its annual Book Festival. And if you’d like to stay and work at The Open Book, here’s the Airbnb page.

Inspiration for Ebeneezer Scrooge: While on a visit to Edinburgh University, Charles Dickens strolled through the Canongate Kirkyard and saw the tombstone of ‘Ebenezer Scroggie – Mealman.’ A mealman was a selle of grain. But Dickens, in a mild dyslexic state, read it as ‘Ebenezer Scrooge – Meanman,’ and one of the greatest literary villain-heroes was born. {more}

Sir Nils Olav, Penguin: Knighted in 2008, Sir Nils Olav was upgraded to ‘Brigadier Sir Nils Olav’ by His Majesty the King of Norway’s Guard in 2016. Enjoy this video of the ceremony:

Billy Connolly is a Scottish national treasure. We give you a bit of standup comedy.

Gerry Rafferty: If the short clip of ‘Baker Street’ has you hankering for more, here’s Right Down the Line: The Greatest Hits of Gerry Rafferty.

The Scottish Storytelling Centre: Visit their website for details and schedule.

Haunt Publishing: Publishers of our recommended book Haunted Voices. Visit the website for more info and live events.

Much gratitude to inchadney for the bagpipes you heard in the opening of the podcast.



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Top image courtesy of James Toose.

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