Several decades ago there was a brief moment when bands would release reading lists with their albums. In the press kit for Talking Heads' Remain in Light, David Byrne included a bibliography. This featured one book in common with the reading list supplied by Robert Fripp to members of King Crimson when they reformed in 1981. Nowadays such gestures of grave portentousness are generally frowned upon, but the librarians aim to bring them back!

In that spirit, here is a reading list for the Hirta Songs album by Alasdair Roberts and Robin Robertson. Spoiler alert: you may want to get to know the landscape, social history, flora and fauna of St Kilda only in your mind's eye through the lens of the songs and poems on the album. If so, the standard library disclaimer applies: there are plenty of other pages on the web to divert you.
  • Carmina Gadelica: Hymns and Incantations from the Gaelic (1900) by Alexander Carmichael -- a contemporary of Francis Child who collected songs in the Gaelic language and traditions in the Western Isles.
  • Islands of the West (1933) by Seton Gordon -- one of 27 books by this pioneering Scottish naturalist and folklorist, this has chapters about each of the main three islands in the St Kilda archipelago (Hirta, Boreray and Soay). These describe a visit just before the evacuation of Hirta, though the book was written just afterwards.
  • The Edge of the World (1938) by Michael Powell -- Powell's first major feature as a director (before he went on to work with Emeric Pressburger on films like A Matter of Life and Death as well as I Know Where I''m Going and Gone to Earth) was inspired by his reading a story about the evacuation and dramatises the events that led up to it. Denied permission to film on St Kilda, the film was made on the isle of Foula, but in the story it is known as Hirta. Powell wrote about the experience of making the film on the (now very hard to obtain) 200,000 Feet on Foula (also 1938), which we believe was republished as Edge of the World: The Making of a Film (1990), which is not quite so hard to get.
  • The Life and Death of St Kilda (1965-2011) by Tom Steel -- Steel first wrote this book about the evacuation of St Kilda, and what happened to the people afterwards, when still a student. He continued to update it until his death.
  • Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology (2011) by David Abram.
  • Island of Wings (2012) by Karin Altenberg -- Altenberg accompanied Robin Robertson on the same 2007 trip to St Kilda that inspired Hirta Songs. Her novel is based on research into the lives and culture of real people on Hirta in the nineteenth century.

If you search YouTube for St Kilda or Hirta you'll find plenty of material from different periods with varying production values. For example