Perthshire is a creative place. We have a huge number of festivals and an enviable line-up of concerts, exhibitions, galleries, museums, not to mention highly creative people! Books and writers play an important part in our creative scene, so we’d like to take you on a tour of Literary Perthshire, and bring you all the events, festivals, bookshops and bookish places in one place. We hope you enjoy it!

1) Author Events

CPK Libraries, which runs Perthshire’s public libraries, regularly hosts an exciting variety of author events. Here’s what’s coming up this season:

Ann Cleeves with Wildfire

Wed 19th September,
AK Bell Library

Author of the hugely popular Shetland books, now a major TV series, reads from her latest in the series.

Find out more

Bill Jones with Black Camp 21

Fri 5th October,
Cultybraggan Camp.

Award-winning author Bill Jones will talk about his latest book, the World War II thriller ‘Black Camp 21’, based on true events, at the atmospheric setting of Cultybraggan Camp.

Find out more

David McPhail with Top Secret Grandad & Me

Tue 20th November,
Loch Leven Community Library

A fun, interactive event with children’s author David MacPhail. He will talk about mind maps and how you can use them to plot stories, then discuss his latest book, about Jay Patel and his ghost grandad! Age 8-plus.

Find out more

Quintin Jardine with A Brush With Death

Tue 20th November,
Loch Leven Community Library

As part of the Kinross-shire Winter Festival and Bookweek Scotland, best-selling Scottish crime author Quintin Jardine will discuss his final book, in which the now “retired” Bob Skinner investigates the mystery behind a millionaire’s unexplained poisoning.

Find out more

Murder Mysteries and Bun Breaks with Robin Stevens

Fri 30th November,
Loch Leven Community Library

Robin Stevens, author of the ‘Murder Most Unladylike’ series and winner of the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in the younger fiction category, talks about detective duo Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong and their latest mystery, “Death in the Spotlight”. Find out why Robin is so fascinated with murder mysteries, what makes a great detective and solve a unique mystery… Ages 9+.

Find out more

Crime Writers Gillian Galbraith and Shirley McKay in conversation

Wed 21st November,
Loch Leven Community Library

Shirley McKay, author of the Hew Cullen Mysteries which are set in St Andrews, will be in conversation with Gillian Galbraith, author of the Alice Rice Mysteries.

Find out more

In conversation with Jim Crumley and Robin A. Crawford

Tue 23rd October,
Waterstones, Perth

Jim’s latest book, “The Nature of Autumn”, charts the colourful progression from September to November, telling the story of how unfolding autumn affects the wildlife and landscapes of his beloved Scottish countryside.

Find out more

Events at Innerpeffray Library

Various dates,
Innerpeffray Library

Enjoy a delightful selection of events in a unique setting, including Alex Nye – “The Art of the Ghost Story”, and “The Course of History: Ten Meals that Changed the World” by Struan Stevenson MEP.

Find out more

Literary Analysis course

Thurs 11th October,
Birnam Arts

This is a course for any literary aficionado interested in delving into the fascinating world of analysis. Examine the form and content of poems, classic novels and plays in a relaxed, easy-going class. Gain a greater appreciation of the methodology authors use to convey their goals – the setting, plot, characters and imagery. Bring pen, paper and a love of literature!

Book this course online

2) Bookshops and Exchanges in Perth

Big Dog Books, Perth

Opened in 2016, Big Dog Books is an independent comic book, games, and pop culture shop. Big Dog Books aims to create a social space for kids, young adults – and those old enough to know better – to get away from screens and computers and into a genuine social network.

The Birnam Reader

This compact but well-stocked bookshop is just around the corner from Birnam Arts. The friendly independent bookshop offers a wide range of second-hand books and CDs, all whilst serving delicious coffee and homemade cakes!

Fun Junction, Crieff and Perth

As well as one of the best toy and game selections in the whole county, Fun Junction, an independent, family-run business with branches in Perth and Crieff, also stocks a lovely selection of kids’ books.

Book Exchanges at Blend and The Library

There are free International Book Exchanges at popular coffee shop Blend and at AK Bell Library. Bring a book along, swap it for another that you fancy, and have a coffee while you’re there!

Waterstones, Perth

It’s the national bookshop that feels like an indie – Waterstones has been a feature of Perth’s city centre for over 20 years and continues to attract a loyal reading public. As well as the great selection of fiction, non-fiction and children’s books and toys, Waterstones also plays host to a Scottish Fiction Reading Group on the first Tuesday of every month.

Mustard Seed Book Shop, Perth

The Mustard Seed Book & Gift Shop offers a wide range of Christian books, Bibles and many gifts and souvenirs from around Perthshire.

Oxfam Books & Music, Perth

This is a treasure trove of great-quality, low-priced second-hand books. The stock is wide-ranging, from modern fiction to collectable antiquarian but their main specialism is Scottish material, including books on Scotland and by Scottish authors, from Ian Rankin to Robert Burns.

Pitlochry Station Bookshop

Tucked away in a railway arch at Pitlochry Station is this lovely bookshop full of second-hand treats, including novels, non-fiction, coffee-table tomes, a kids’ corner and much more.
Most books are about £1 and there is a wide selection. On top of all that, the bookshop raises thousands of pounds for six diverse charities.
Find out more about this bookshop in our Day Out to Pitlochry article!

The Watermill & Homer, Aberfeldy

The Watermill & Homer is a hugely popular bookshop, gallery, café and design-led homeware store, on three floors of a converted oatmeal mill. Opened in 2005 by Michael Palin, it was awarded UK Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2009. There are regular events – Edinburgh author Alexander McCall Smith is a regular visitor – and a lovely mix of books, gifts, music and a kids’ section.

3) Book Festivals

Bookmark Festival

5th – 7th October 2018

Bookmark returns to Blairgowrie, Rattray and The Glens for its sixth year, with more authors and events to delight the audiences. The founding principle of this festival is to foster and encourage a love of literature in all its forms by sharing a passion for reading and writing in a friendly, inclusive environment. This year, authors featured include Denise Mina, Allan Johnson, Isla Dewar and a special event celebrating 100 years of Muriel Spark.

Kinross-shire’s Winter Festival

Oct/Nov/Dec 2018

Kinross-shire’s Winter Festival is a celebration of exciting community events from the end of October to December. There are always great author events – this year’s selection includes Ann Cleeves, writer of Shetland and ITV’s Vera and “Murder mysteries and bun breaks” with Robin Stevens (see Author Events, above).

Winter Words Festival

14th – 17th February 2019

Winter Words is the perfect way to enjoy the last days of winter (and celebrate the first signs of spring) amidst the spectacular landscape of Highland Perthshire. Taking place each February at Pitlochry Festival Theatre, the festival brings in well-known and distinguished artists from around the world for over two weeks of stories, songs, and workshops.

Those bookish good folks at Birnam Arts and The Birnam Reader have put their heads together and come up with a festival of sheer brilliance! Join us in Birnam, along with a stellar lineup of writers, speakers and musicians, to celebrate a wealth of words, certain to warm your heart and brighten up your November.
Follow Perth City Centre and The Birnam Book Festival on Facebook to be the first to hear about the line-up!

3) Bookish Places to Visit

AK Bell Library, Perth

This fantastic library is a lively creative hub for Perth and Perthshire, offering all the lending services you’d expect but also a rich archive, a packed calendar of events (see Book and Poetry Events, above) and a café and gift shop. It’s one of the venues you can visit as part of Perth Doors Open Day, taking in a Behind the Scenes and Treasures tour and visiting some areas not normally open to the public, including a rare chance to see behind the scenes in the Council Archive. There are two guided tours; booking is essential.

Beatrix Potter Exhibition

Beatrix Potter had a long and fruitful relationship with Birnam and Dunkeld. While in Scotland, Beatrix wrote a “picture letter” which provided the basis for her first book The Tale of Peter Rabbit. This charming Beatrix Potter exhibition invites you to step back in time and immerse yourself in the world of a Victorian classroom, put on your own puppet show featuring Peter Rabbit and friends or experience a wash day in the style of Miss Tiggywinkle!

Innerpeffray Library

Innerpeffray Library is Scotland’s oldest free, public lending library: a museum where you can literally touch the past. At a site steeped in history from Roman times to living memory, the Library offers visitors a hands-on, unforgettable experience of Scottish heritage.

In its tranquil rural setting by the River Earn, you can travel back in time and explore the books, the people and the story of Innerpeffray. See Author Events for what’s on in this beautiful place.

John Buchan’s house, Perth

Did you know that Perth is the birthplace of John Buchan, legendary author of The 39 Steps and many other thrilling adventure novels? A plaque at 18/20 York Place (currently the home of Mindspace), commemorates his service as Governor General of Canada, but on Sunday 30th September you can visit as part of Perthshire’s Doors Open Days.

Quarto Press, Coupar Angus

The Quarto Press is a “private press”, run for fun, not profit. Housed in a converted 19th-century cottage and wagon-shed, there is a working traditional letterpress facility that uses hand-set metal and wood type in the way that printing was done from the 1450s to 1900. Also contains a collection of small presses and specialist items used by printers. You can visit on most days (phone ahead) or as part of Doors Open Day 2018.

Royal Scottish Geographical Society Visitor Centre

Visit the Fair Maid’s House, home to the Royal Geographical Society’s Visitor Centre, where you can “navigate” to the stylish explorers’ library, or the Cuthbert Map Room if you’re an atlas fan. There’s also a very exciting opportunity to bring a fantastic new book to life, by pledging to order a copy of The Great Horizon, a collection of 50 fascinating adventure stories from the last 150 years, retrieved from the RSGS archive.

Soutar House

Born in 1898 in Perth, William Soutar is known as one of the greatest poets Scotland has produced. On Perthshire’s Doors Open Days, Soutar House in Perth’s Craigie area is open for viewing – this year it’s on the 29th September.

There are also two William Soutar Perth Walks that start at the Fergusson Gallery and take you through Perth City Centre or through and around Craigie where Soutar lived. Walking guides are available from the A K Bell Library, the Tourist Information Centre and the Fergusson Gallery. Find out more about this fascinating poet and his work on the William Soutar website.

Don’t be a stranger

We hope you’ve enjoyed our literary tour of Perthshire! For all the latest news, events and information about Perth and Perthshire, you can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and sign up to our email newsletter.