A good read before or during your voyage

There are many ways to prepare for a voyage on board a sailing vessel. One of best ones for a rainy day is reading. But there are so many books out there, so many topics, so many writers..! Where do you start? Well, one of our guest crew, Heather, has come up with an amazing reading list. A list of books she has read before getting on board the Tecla and sailing in these areas. They are sorted by country/area so it is easy for you to pick.

Some of these books are on board. We will come out with our library content soon, so you know which books to bring or which books to leave at home.

If you have any additional books for this list, please let us know which books you have read and are to recommend before setting sail with the Tecla. info@tecla.nl 

East Coast of Scotland

Not on board

 The Silver Darlings, Neil Gunn (1941) beautifully written 19thcentury family saga set in a fishing community in northeastern Scotland (the herring are the silver darlings).

Sunset Song, Lewis Grassic Gibbon (1932) classic Scottish novel of rural life in the early 20th century. The book has been adapted for television (1971) and film (2015).

The Orkneyinga Saga– early 12thcentury saga relates the violent history of the Earls of Orkney & Shetland.

An Orkney Tapestry, George Mackay Brown (1969) retells The Orkneyinga Saga, as part of a meditation on the history and folklore of Orkney – so if you don’t have time to read the whole saga, you can read this instead!

Greenvoe, George Mackay Brown (1972) novel about a sinister military/industrial project on the Orkney island of Hellya.

A Calendar of Love, George Mackay Brown (1967) short stories set in Orkney, both ancient and Modern.


The Orkneyinga saga is on board


Not on board



The Shetland Bus, David Howarth (1951) true story of WW2 operation in Shetland, running Norwegian fishing boats to Norway, carrying agents & supplies.

The Old Man and His Sons, Heðin Brú  (1940) short charming novel about life in pre-war Faroes by a Faroese writer and translator.

Far Afield, Susanna Kaysen (1990) novel set in the Faroe islands.

The Blood Strand, Chris Ould (2016) crime drama set in the Faroes, the first of a trilogy.

Faroese Short Stories, translated by Hedin Bronner (1972).

Far Islands and Other Cold Places, Elizabeth Taylor – an adventurous Victorian lady traveller spent long stretches living in the Faroes, and also visited Iceland & Greenland.

Faroe Islands


The Sagas of Icelanders, edited by Jane Smiley. This big book looks a bit intimidating, but it is full of exciting tales that add immeasurably to the experience of being in Iceland.

Grettir’s Saga– This is THE saga to read before sailing with Tecla because it takes place in northern Iceland. Grettir is outlawed for murder, goes to Norway, and becomes a hero. But back in Iceland he kills a murderous ghost and is outlawed again. Perpetually on the run, he takes refuge on Drangey Island – one of Tecla’s stops!

Viking Myths & Sagas, Rosalind Kerven (2015). Both sagas AND Norse myths!

D’Aulaires’ Book of Norse Myths(1967) a real classic, beautifully illustrated retellings of the stories of Odin, Thor, Freya, and Loki.

Topsail and Battleaxe: A Voyage in the Wake of the Vikings, Tom Cunliffe (1988) English sailors follow the Viking route from Norway to Newfoundland (though they don’t make it to Greenland due to heavy ice). Interspersed with excerpts from the sagas.

Independent People, Halldór Laxness (1934) story of poor Icelandic farmers in the early 20th century by the only Icelandic novelist ever to win the Nobel prize.

Detective novels by Arnaldur Indridason & Yrsa Sigurdardottir – for something a bit more contemporary than the sagas!

Saga of the Greenlandersand Saga of Erik the Red, also known as The Vinland Sagas. Written in the 13thcentury, they recount the Norse exploration of Greenland & North America.

Greenlanders, Jane Smiley (1984) Wonderful novel about the mysterious disappearance of the medieval Norse Eastern & Western Settlements in Greenland.

N by E(1930) and Salamina(1935), Rockwell Kent – memoirs of his trips to Greenland (including a shipwreck), written & illustrated by an adventurous American artist who had previously sailed a small boat in Tierra del Fuego, which he describes in Voyaging: Southwards(1924).

Green Seas & White Ice, Miriam MacMillan (1948) wife of Donald MacMillan, Arctic explorer, voyages to Labrador & Greenland with him.

No One Thinks of Greenland, John Griesemer (2003) novel that has been made into a movie, Guy X(2005), a black comedy set in Greenland.


St Kilda

St Kilda, George Seton – He visited this remote island in 1876 when it was still inhabited by people who knew little of the outside world.

The Life & Death of St Kilda, Tom Steel (1965) In 1930, the last 36 islanders of St Kilda moved to the mainland.

Where the World Ends, Geraldine McCaughrean (2017) based on a true story, when a dozen men & boys from St Kilda were stranded for 9 months on a remote rocky stac.

The Black House, The Lewis Man, The Chess Man, Peter May – a fast-paced detective trilogy set in the Isle of Lewis.

The Road Dance, John Mackay (2002) novel set on the Isle of Lewis during WW1.

When I Heard the Bell: The Loss of the Iolaire, John Macleod (2009) – the tragic 1908 sinking just outside Stornoway with the loss of over 200 Lewismen returning from WWI.

Whisky Galore, Compton Mackenzie (1947) amusing novel based on a true story, when a ship during WW2 ran aground on Eriskay, carrying 28,000 cases of malt whisky.

The Lewis Chessmen Unmasked– Tells the story of how the famous 12thcentury carved ivory chess pieces were discovered in Lewis, and more recently analyzed by a forensic anthropologist for clues to their origins.

After the Dance, Iain Crichton Smith (2013) short stories by the acclaimed Scottish novelist & poet who grew up speaking Gaelic on Lewis.

Stories from South Uist(1997) told by Angus MacLellan, trans by John Lorne Campbell.

Outer Hebrides

books of Peter May are on board

Isle of Skye

The Hills is Lonely, Lillian Beckwith (1959) hilarious tales of an Englishwoman who goes to live with crofters in Skye.

The House Between the Tides, Sarah Maine (2016) novel about a woman who inherits a ruined mansion on Skye and becomes enmeshed in the tangled history of the island. Sorley Maclean, one of the best Scottish poets of the 20thcentury, was born on the isle of Raasay, and he published poetry in both Gaelic and English.

Last Voyage, Ann Davison (1951) Davison, the first woman to sail solo across the Atlantic, here tells of restoring an old boat and attempting to flee the UK in it. Out of print and hard to find, but a gripping true story any sailor will find fascinating.

John Macnab, John Buchan (1925) classic novel in which four friends dare Scottish landowners to catch them when they poach a deer and a salmon.

Scottish Wonder Tales from Myth and Legend, Donald MacKenzie (1917) Stories about Finn MacCool and  Ossian,  the Land-under-Waves, the Blue Men, Thomas the Rhymer, etc.

Mainland Scotland

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