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Best Islay Books and Guides

Although we live in a digital era, many folk still like to read a real paper book which they can hold in their hands and read anywhere, without the need of a tablet, kindle, computer or other reading device. It's also nice to switch off every now and then and forget about all the digital stuff. And personally, when you're making the trip to Islay this year, I can't think of better reading material than a book about your favourite island. I always like to think that the more you know about a place in advance, and the better prepared you are before you go, that it will have a very positive impact on your holiday. That's why I can highly recommend purchasing a few books and guides about Islay. Both to read before you leave for Islay and to read when you are on Islay. Of course you can always read the tons of information we have online on our various websites but like I said earlier, it's just so nice to switch off at times. That's why I have picked six of the best Islay books and together they cover a lot of topics, from the fascinating history, general information, pronounciation of Gaelic words, the background of whisky distilling on Islay, a guide to walking and a book about experiences from other travellers. These will get you prepared and in the mood for your upcoming Islay holiday and keep you pleasantly occupied when the weather is bad. Here goes:

Islay: Pevensey Island Guides by Norman Newton
A small book, but loaded with gorgeous colour pictures of this beautiful Island in the Hebrides. Has a useful information and Places to visit Guide. Gives you a crash course of Place-Names and their pronunciation, so you won't be murdering the Gaelic. Includes a map, gives information of Medieval ruins, the Islay distilleries - which produces fine Single Malt Whisky. Gives you a real flavour of Islay. The book is soft sided and lightweight so it's easy to bring along. Buy here via Amazon. Continue reading...

Andrew Jefford - Peat Smoke and Spirit
Those who discover malt whisky quickly learn that the malts made on the Isle of Islay are some of the wildest and most characterful in the malt-whisky spectrum. In Peat Smoke and Spirit, Islay's fascinating story is uncovered: from its history and stories of the many shipwrecks which litter its shores, to intimate descriptions of the beautiful wildlife, landscape and topography of the island. Interwoven through these different narrative strands comes the story of the whiskies themselves, traced from a distant past of bothies and illegal stills to present-day legality and prosperity. Peat Smoke and Spirit is the last word on Islay and its whiskies and comes highly recommended! Order here

Islay, Jura and Colonsay: A Historical Guide
The story of Islay, Jura and Colonsay is one of the most fascinating amongst all the Hebrides. They have had substantial human occupation since earliest times and man has left many relics across the islands, from tools and artefacts of mesolithic times to the modern-day distilleries of Islay and Jura. From the period between survive chambered cairns, iron age forts, magnificent early crosses, enigmatic carvings, early monasteries, relics of the Lordship of the Isles, deserted townships and shielings, planned villages, corn mills, kelp kilns and lead mines and much else besides. Far more than a gazetteer, this book is based on a great deal of intensive primary research and local knowledge and is essential reading for local and tourist alike. Order here.

Walking on Islay and Jura
A guide to the best walking on Jura, Islay, Colonsay and Oronsay - featuring one classic 5-day wilderness trek along the west coast of Jura and 11 day walks across the islands, include a round of the iconic Paps of Jura, from bases such as Port Askaig, Port Ellen and Scalasaig. This new guide opens up the area to the experienced walker, describing many previously unpublished routes. Order here.

Margaret Storrie - Biography of an Island
Dr Margaret Storrie gives a comprehensive account about the past and present of Islay. Anyone wishing to learn and understand the history of Islay will find this book fascinating. A must for those interested in Islay and the best Islay book according to many. Order here.

Islay Voices
Many travellers have had their imaginations captured by the beautiful Hebridean island of Islay and have been moved to write about it, among them the renowned Thomas Pennant and Martin Martin. But Ileachs - the natives of Islay - have also been inspired to record their experience. These have included Gaelic bards, the folklorist John Francis Campbell and the crusader for crofters' right, John Murdoch. This anthology distills the essence of Islay through a very personal selection of writing. Some of the writing is profound, some of it quirky, but all reveals a fascinating aspect of Islay that together presents a revealing and moving 'people's history' of Islay. Order here.

More Islay books are available through our Islay Bookshop Page

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