Desert Island

If you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 56 books at your disposal, which books would you take?

I would take (in no significant order):


Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder. I read this “novel about the history of philosophy” when I was too young to really get it, and have been insisting ever since that I’m going to reread it. It’s also a great reference.

Little Herb Gardens, by Georgeanne Brennan and Mimi Luebbermann. Because I aspire to successfully growing things, especially things I can then cook with.

Ulysses, by James Joyce. In case it makes more sense there.

Legends and Storytelling

Irish Stories and Tales

The Legend of Arthur

The Idylls of the King, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco

Maps and Legends, by Michael Chabon

The Age of Wonder, by Richard Holmes

Summerland, by Michael Chabon

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll

Series and Epics

The Lord of the Rings (3), plus The Hobbit and The Silmarillion, by J. R. R. Tolkein

The Chronicles of Narnia (7), by C. S. Lewis

Harry Potter (7) (in hardcover!), by J. K. Rowling

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (hardcover all the way!), by Susanna Clarke

The Moosepath League (4… 1 is still on loan…you know who you are), by Van Reid

The Mark of the Lion (3), by Francine Rivers

Musical Reference

Lives of the Great Composers

The NY Philharmonic Guide to the Symphony

Just Plain Useful

The Bible

Dare to Repair

The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist, by Thomas McCormack

Travel Guides (15)

OK, and then at the end I would (hypothetically of course) throw in about ten books I own but haven’t read.



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7 responses to “Desert Island

  1. Scott

    How about the ‘Food Lover’s Companion’ by Sharon Tyler Herbst? And I guess you left out the Dictionary because hey, it’s a desert island and who’s going to do any copy editing?

  2. Momen

    Oh great choice! You can also visit my blog Book Charm to see a brief list of books you should read. Here’s the link:

  3. MOM--the English teacher

    What about “Confederacy of Dunces”? “Don Quixote?” And you know how I feel about Thackeray and “Vanity Fair.” Humor is important if you are stuck on that desert island, you know?
    Also, more than a few people in the building (including some students) are actually reading the Augusten Burroughs (sp?) books, “Running With Scissors,” “Dry,” etc, and I am hearing good things about them as well. May have to check that out this summer when I am NOT, NOT, NOT GRADING PAPERS!

  4. unquiettime

    Alas… I needed a copy editor on this post. Verb conjugation fixed, everyone.

  5. Hmm, maybe I should try Michael Chabon again. I loved the first 2/3 of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh but hated the rest of it, so I’ve shied away from him since then. But I keep seeing Summerland and thinking it looks interesting.

    • unquiettime

      Yeah, you know, Mysteries of Pgh was not my favorite, although I really wanted it to be (for memories-of-Pittsburgh reasons)…. If you want to try again, I’d say go for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay or The Yiddish Policemen’s Union. Summerland I don’t remember well enough to know if it’s a must-read, but I intend to find out.

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