A Reading List for Shetland

The first in a series of posts collating books about a particular place.

I decided a while ago to start a series of posts where I collate all the books I know of that are associated with a particular place. Finally, I’ve got round to putting together the first of these posts. It took a lot longer than I thought!

Of course the first post had to be based on my soul home of Shetland. I’ve included books about Shetland, books by authors from Shetland and books set in Shetland. The list is a mix or fiction and non-fiction and I’ve categorised the books under several general headings. The only type of books I’ve avoided listing are guidebooks.

I’ve only listed the titles and authors. I did think about a brief synopsis of each book, but if I’d done that the post would never have been finished! Hopefully the category headings will give you a bit of an idea about what type of book each one is.

The post is a work in progress and I will add to it as I discover more books. If you think I’ve missed any off do let me know in the comments so I can add them.


The Shetland series of books by Ann Cleeves – in order they are: Raven Black, White Nights, Red Bones, Blue Lightning, Dead Water, Thin Air, Cold Earth

Death on a Longship by Marsali Taylor

Shetland by Jack Spain (young adult fiction)

Shetland Folk Tales by Lawrence Tulloch

The Folklore of Orkney and Shetland by Ernest Walker Marwick

Sacrifice by Sharon Bolton

Da Trow: The Troll in Shetland Scots by Julia Donaldson and Christine De Luca (children’s; in dialect)

The Further North You Go by Tom Morton

Shetland Black by Laureen Johnson (in dialect)

Smootie an da Toon Hall Clock by Christine De Luca (in dialect; children’s)

Tang: A Shetland Story by J J Haldane Burgess

Thin Wealth by Robert Alan Jamieson

Dancing with the Ferryman by Frankie Valente

A Dream of Silver by J Laughton Johnston

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderlaand by Lewis Carroll (in dialect, translated by Laureen Johnson)

And Then Forever by Christine De Luca

Berries on the Heather by Kari Williamson

Fair Isle Ghosts by Carol Tweedie

The Shetland Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (children’s; in dialect, translated by Laureen Johnson)

The Shetland Gruffalo’s Bairn by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler (children’s; in dialect, translated by Christine De Luca)

History, Politics and Culture

Women’s Suffrage in Shetland by Marsali Taylor

The Story of Busta House by Marsali Taylor

The Shetland Bus by David J Howarth and Kjell Colding

Scottish Lighthouse Pioneers: Travels with the Stevensons in Orkney and Shetland by Paul A Lynn

Myth and Materiality in a Woman’s World: Shetland 1800-2000 by Lynn Abrams

The Shetland Boat: South Mainland and Fair Isle by Adrian G Osler

The Shetland Story by Liv Kjorsvik Schei and Gunnie Moberg

Shetland and the Great War by Linda K Riddell

The Shetland Bible by Charles Greig (in dialect)

Shetland Islands by James A Pottinger

Doing His Bit: A Shetland Soldier in the Great War by Robert M Greig

Shetland and Oil by James R Nicolson

Vikings by Neil Oliver

Life in Shetland by Tom Kidd

Social Change in Dunrossness: A Shetland Study by Reginald Byron

The Northern Isles: Orkney and Shetland by Alexander Fenton

Shetland Life and Trade 1550-1914 by Hance D Smith

The Shetland Isles by Andrew T Cluness

The Orkneys and Shetland: Their Past and Present State by John R Tudor

A View of the Ancient and Present State of the Zetland Islands by Arthur Edmondston

Travellers in a Bygone Shetland by Derek Flinn

The Dunrossness Story by James W Irvine

Sons and Daughters of Shetland: 1800-1900 by Margaret Robertson

200,000 Feet on Foula by Michael Powell

Toons and Tenants by Brian Smith

The Coastal Place-Names of Papa Stour by George P S Peterson

Papa Stour and 1299: Commemorating the 700th Anniversary of Shetland’s First Document by Barbara Crawford

Aald Papa, I’m Dine! by George P S Peterson (in dialect)

The Isle of Foula by Ian Stoughton Holbourn

Unst: My Island Home and Its Story by Charles Sandison

Out Skerries: An Island Community by Joan Dey

Ancient Shetland by Val Turner

Up-Helly-Aa: Custom, Culture and Community in Shetland by Callum G Brown

Up Helly Aa: Tar Barrels and Guizing Looking Back by Charles E Mitchell

Up-Helly-Aa: A Century of Festival by James W Irvine

A Kist of Emigrants by J Laughton Johnston

A Lerwick Lifeboatman’s Story by George Leith

An Eye to Windward by Robert W Gear

Blockade 1914-1918 How Shetland Won the War by Ian Tait

Fishing, Fishermen, Fish Merchants and Curers in Shetland by James R Coull

Gravely Shetland by Alastair Christie-Johnston

Shetland’s Heritage of Sail by Charlie Simpson

The Literature of Shetland by Mark Ryan Smith

The Other Titanic by Simon Martin

The Peerie Guizers: A Celebration of Junior Up-Helly-A’ by Brydon Leslie

The Press Gang in Orkney and Shetland by J D M Robertson

Landscape and Wildlife

Shetland by Ann Cleeves

Shetland Diaries by Simon King

A Shetland Notebook by Norman Ackroyd

The Shetland Isles by Liv Kjorsvik Schei

Shetland Rambles: A Sketching Tour Retracing the Footsteps of Victorian Artist John T Reid by Mairi Hedderwick

Discover Shetland’s Birds by Paul Harvey

A Guide to Shetland’s Breeding Birds by Bobby Tulloch

Otters in Shetland: The Tale of the Draatsi by Richard Shucksmith and Brydon Thomason

The Natural History of Shetland by R J Berry and J L Johnston

Bobby Tulloch’s Shetland by Bobby Tulloch

Shetland: Land of the Ocean by Colin Baxter

A Naturalist’s Shetland by J L Johnston and John Busby

The Birds of Shetland by Pete Ellis et al

A Photographic Guide to Shetland’s Geology by David Malcolm and Robina R Barton

Shetland Ponies from Shetland by Margaret Hunter

A Photographic Guide to Shetland’s Wild Flowers by David Malcolm

A Shetland Nature Diary by Joyce J M Gammack

Memoir, Biography and Autobiography

Mackerel at Midnight: Growing Up Jewish on the Shetland Isles by Ethel G Hofman

Shetland Doctor: the Life of an Island GP by Robin Ditchburn

The Shetland Gypsy by Kayrin McMillan

Shetland Bus Man by Kaare Iversen

In a World a Wir Ane: A Shetland Herring Girl’s Story by Susan Telford

A Shetland Parish Doctor: Some Recollections of a Shetland Parish Doctor During the Past Half Century by Harry Pearson Taylor

A Peerie Peek at da Past by Agnes Hobbin

Like a Mantle the Sea by Stella Shepherd

Foula: The Time of My Life by Christopher Mylne

Foula: Island West of the Sun by Sheila Gear

Microbes and the Fetlar Man by Jane Coutts

A Kangaroo Loose in Shetland: Excerpts from a Diary by Lachlan Ness

Baby Boomers: Memories of Post-War Shetland by Erik Young

Bobby the Birdman by Jonathan Wills and Mike McDonnell

Born a Beachcomber: The Story of Thomas Mathieson by Steve Mathieson

Design for Life by Peter Jamieson

Hoswick Man by Martin Smith

Travel Writing

Between Weathers: Travels in 21st Century Shetland by Ron McMillan

Isles of the North by Ian Mitchell

True North: Travels in Arctic Europe by Gavin Francis

The Far-Flung Isles: Orkney and Shetland by Garry Hogg

60 Degrees North: Around the World in Search of a Home by Malachy Tallack


Whalsay: Symbol, Segment and Boundary in a Shetland Island Community by Anthony P Cohen

Food and Drink

Shetland Food and Cooking by Marian Armitage


Wast Wi Da Valkyries by Christine De Luca (in dialect)

Bards in the Bog: Poems from the Shetland Project that put Poetry in Public Toilets by Shetland Library

Bright Pebbles edited by Mary Blance and Laureen Johnson (in dialect and English)

Language and Dialect

A Glossary of the Shetland Dialect by James Stout Angus

The Shetland Dictionary by John J Graham

Shetland Words by Alastair and Adaline Christie-Johnston

Shetland Wildlife Alphabet by Mary Isbister (children’s)

The Norn Language of Orkney and Shetland by Michael Barnes

Have you read any of these books? Have you read any I’ve not listed? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Author: Anne

Join me in my journey to live a life less boring, one challenge at a time. Author of the forthcoming book 'Walking the Kungsleden: One Woman's Solo Wander Through the Swedish Arctic'.

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