With many of us labouring with life under lockdown, we thought we’d try to help you connect with the Isle of Harris from the comfort of your own home.
While the temptation is to consume nothing but Netflix streams and never-ending social media, there’s nothing quite like switching off and curling up somewhere comfortable with a good book.
So, pour yourself an Isle of Harris Gin and pick something from our selection of 10 recommended reads from the Outer Hebrides, chosen by our distillery staff to suit all manner of page-turning tastes...
Harris In History And Legend - Bill Lawson
One of our favourite go-to books on Harris history, written by friend and genealogist Bill Lawson. An incredible repository of local knowledge, Bill gives a modern account of our island and the people and places which have shaped our story for thousands of years. [Link]
A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland - Martin Martin
Written in 1703, this book gives one of the earliest insights into life here in the Outer Hebrides, opening a door onto island life as it was over 300 years ago. From crofting and medicinal cures to Harris cats catching Rodel rats, there are lots of fascinating tales to uncover, including how Hebridean whisky was made! [Link]
Poacher’s Pilgrimage: An Island Journey - Alastair McIntosh
Over a twelve-day spiritual journey, often in appalling conditions, Alastair returns to the islands of his childhood as he walks from the southern tip of Harris to the far north of neighbouring Lewis. Along the way he reflects on the healing power of the land and the communities which call this place home. [Link]
Rhenigidale: A Community’s Fight For Survival - Kenneth MacKay
The fascinating story of one community's fight for survival. The village of Rhenigidale was cut off for many years from the rest of Harris. But, facing a multitude of obstacles and powerful adversity, one man, Kenneth MacKay, led the fight for a road to be built, to secure the future of his village. [Link]
The Soap Man: Lewis, Harris and Lord Leverhulme - Roger Hutchison
As World War 1 ended, the eminent industrialist Lord Leverhulme bought the Isles of Lewis and Harris. His intention was to revolutionise the lives of his island tenants through industry and commerce, but he was to discover that local people had other ideas and confrontation was quick to come his way...[Link]
Crowdie And Cream And Other Stories: Memoirs of a Hebridean Childhood - Finlay J Macdonald
A real staff favourite, combining the original classic book ‘Crowdie and Cream’ with the sequels ‘Crotal and White’ and ‘The Corncrake and the Lysander’. Finlay tells of life in the depression years, bringing alive the warmth and closeness of his unique community in 1930s Harris. [Link]
Sea Room: An Island Life - Adam Nicolson
Adam describes and relives his love affair with the Shiants, three tiny islands off the east coast of Harris, and their strange and colourful history, sharing with us the greatest gift an island bestows on its inhabitants: a deep engagement with the natural world. [Link]
The Coffin Road - Peter May
Taking its name from a well-known cross-island trail, Peter’s fifth release continues his popular, best-selling series of Hebridean crime novels. A man is washed up on a deserted beach on the Isle of Harris, barely alive and with no idea who he is or how he got there... [Link]
The Life And Death Of St Kilda - Tom Steele
There are no shortage of great books about the remote island of St Kilda, found far off the west coast of Harris. Home to a community of hardy islanders, Tom’s classic tale tells the moving story of a fragile Hebridean culture and how the changes of the twentieth century ultimately brought an entire way of life to its knees. [Link]
The Islanders and the Orb - Janet Hunter
One for the serious Harris Tweed lover, Janet presents the most comprehensive and wide-ranging account of the Harris Tweed industry ever written. This iconic cloth has woven its way into the social and economic history of these islands and brought a century of struggle as local people have fought to protect the provenance of their beautiful clò mor. [Link]
We hope you manage to find something to pique your interest here and we have plenty more to share with you over the coming weeks and months, including films, photography collections and even poetry.
Meantime, let us know your own favourite island books and we’ll add them to our reading list here in Harris!
Have a great weekend and stay connected and safe, wherever you are in the world.