Sat. Jul 20th, 2024


We Scots have always loved to read and, for that, you need a good supply of bookshops.

Scottish readers also love interesting and quirky bookshops. You might go in looking for a particular title, only to emerge with half a dozen books you’d never heard of before.

Here are five of the most interesting, and quirky bookshops in Scotland that you should visit.

The Book Shop, Wigtown

Situated in Scotland’s National Book Town, in Galloway, the Book Shop is the largest second-hand outlet in Scotland, featuring over a mile of shelving and more than 100,000 titles.

The shop is also home to Captain – a dog-hating black cat, who’s perfectly friendly to the hosts of book lovers who visit every day.

The shop and cat are owned by Shaun Blythell. He has written four highly entertaining volumes about his life as a village bookseller, and the customers he meets.


The village is also home to more than a dozen other bookshops and also hosts the annual Wigtown Book Festival – which attracts top authors from around the world.

If you love browsing, and cats, this is the shop for you.

Visit The Book Shop, Wigtown.

Leakey’s, Inverness

Family-run, and in business since 1979, Leakey’s Bookshop is a goldmine of second-hand and antique books, as well as vintage maps and prints.

Located within a converted 17th Century Gaelic church in the centre of the town, the shop offers lots of nooks and corners to explore. On cold days, you can warm yourself by the wood-burning fire in the centre of the shop.

Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful bookshops in Scotland – possibly the UK – the old church remains a place of pilgrimage for book lovers from home and abroad.

Visit Leakey’s Bookshop, Inverness.

Voltaire & Rousseau, Glasgow

Named after the famed 18th Century French philosophers, this quirky bookstore has been attracting adventurous readers for years. Hidden down a lane in the city’s bohemian West End, its charm comes from the teetering piles of books and magazines throughout the store. And the resident cat of course.


With thousands of books, and fresh stock arriving every day, everything from fiction, classical studies, Scottish history, science, to sheet music, and comics, Voltaire & Rousseau is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered.

The owners are also happy if you just want to pop in to read, avoid the rain, or warm yourself by their fire.

Visit Voltaire & Rrousseau, Glasgow.

Topping & Company, Edinburgh

A relative newcomer to Edinburgh’s reading scene, this family-owned bookshop opened its doors in 2019.

Housed on a corner site in Edinburgh’s elegant Georgian New Town, the city’s largest independent bookshops stocks over 70,000 titles.

Even better, if you fancy settling down with a book in the beautiful, light-filled shop all you have to do is ask. The staff will even bring you a free pot of tea – the better to get to know your latest purchase.

A most welcoming place, the shop also runs a year-round events calendar of author visits and readings. They affectionately describe it as their ‘all-year-round Literary Festival.’

Find out more about events at Topping & Company, Edinburgh.

Watermill Bookshop, Aberfeldy

Housed, as the name suggests, in a former watermill in the picturesque Highland Perthshire town of Aberfeldy, The Watermill is also a gallery and café.

Regarded as the top independent bookshop in the Highlands, the restored Watermill was included in the 2016 New Yorker collection ‘Footnotes to the 75 Greatest Bookshops in the World’. In 2022 it was named in National Geographic’s top 7 UK bookshops and cafes.

The area can even boast its own famous literary connection. Robert Burns, Scotland’s national bard, wrote his poem ‘The Birks of Aberfeldy’ about the beauties of nearby woodland.

Books for the imagination, food for the soul, and art for the heart – you’ll find them all at The Watermill, Aberfeldy.

Are you planning a trip? Discover Scotland’s Storybook Trail.



By Lala