Nathan Bransford, Author


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What is Your Desert Island Book?

Love the desert island question!!!

It has to be the right kind of book, right? Something you wouldn't mind reading thousands of times. Do you opt for weighty or fun? Something that's challenging and needs unpacking or something that will lift your spirits when the rescue boat fails to arrive? Which type of book best rewards repeat reading?

So.

If you could have one book as you're stuck on a desert island, which one would it be?

I'm going with Moby-Dick. Not only is it long and rewards repeat reading, but it might be useful for whale sightings. (Thanks to Kerri-Ann for pointing out that the title is hyphenated. Sorry Herman!)

What are you taking with you?






251 comments:

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Chuck H. said...

Well, for shear re-readability, I'd have to pick the Bible. Lots of good stories, inspiration and comfort. However, Robinson Crusoe might be good for practical advice on how to survive.

WV: borste - Hungarian soul food? Also good for survival.

Kelly R. Morgan said...

Dune.

If I can't finish it there, I can't finish it anywhere. Since I might be on the desert island for a while, the book's got a fighting chance :)

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I'm taking any book that is entitled "HOW TO SURVIVE ON A DESERT ISLAND" - or failing that, "RAFT BUILDING FOR DUMMIES".

Julia S-D said...

For readability, I think I'd say the Ultimate Hichhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, because it's three books plus a short story in one. So, that's cheating, but I don't think I'd care if I were on a desert island.
But... if I were actually on a desert island I'd probably want a book called "How to Survive on a Desert Island" or something.

SandyDaley said...

The biggest book I can find.

Alyson Jane said...

The biggest anthology I could find. That way I would have access to tons writers and stories to keep me occupied.

Although the smarter option would be to bring field guide to tell me which plants wouldn't kill me if I tried to eat them.

LS Murphy said...

The romantic in me only has one answer...Pride and Prejudice. I can read it mutliple times and still get that feeling of anticipation that it intills.

T.J. said...

Part of me just really wants to take "The Count of Monte Cristo" with me. Do you think there's buried treasure on the island?

mfb said...

Definitely my old, worn, falling apart Modern Library edition of Jane Austen's novels - it's just ONE book even though it has all six novels in it! But it's always there on my breakfast room table and when I need an escape or just a jane-fix, I open it to whatever page and start reading...never get enough.

ElegantSnobbery said...

Persuasion. I love a good angsty romance.

SuzanneWrites said...

"Three bags full: A sheep detective story" or "The secret diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4". Both fun reads.
Hm. I guess I need to choose.
"Three bags full" then. If I start hearing animals speak to me, at least I won't feel quite so crazy.

Christine Macdonald said...

A blank one so I can write about my experiences. I'd call it Narcissism.

Talewright said...

The Riverside Shakespeare, including the sonnets and poems. I've got tragedy, comedy, history, fantasy, and romance and all the great human themes in one volume.

John Jack said...

The story I've read the most. Hemingway's _The Old Man and the Sea_.

I'm sure it has depths I've yet to plumb. But then, any book-length fiction or nonfiction story will do for that kind of fishing.

TERI REES WANG said...

The Crimson Petal and the White by Michael Faber.

Strangely, those chapped lips of hers just keep my interest peeked.

Tracy said...

Stephen King -- "The Stand"

It's long enough that it would take more days to read through it, which lends to its re-readability. Plus, a story about the end of civilization as we know it would help me not feel so bad about being stuck on a beautiful island ... unless it's the island from LOST. Because if we're on that island, I say screw reading, I'm going looking for Polar Bears and John Locke!

alyn said...

One of two....."A Fine Balance" by Rohinton Mistry (weighty and inspiring) OR "Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal" by Christopher Moore (funny, yet oddly inspiring).

wishy the writer said...

One Thousand and One Nights, or The Arabian Nights in English. Nothing like Scheherazade spinning tales night after night to avoid having her head chopped off! Talk about plot! Talk about inspiration!

Kerri Anne said...

The fact that you didn't hyphenate the title of Moby-Dick the way Melville did made me die a little inside just now, but being that it's my favorite book ever (and Melville one of my favorite authors ever), it's the book I would take with me to any island.

Katrina said...

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Ganz-1 said...

Man Vs Wild: Survival Techniques from the Most Dangerous Places on Earth.

:D

or Robinson Crusoe, whichever I happened to have when I accidentally arrive there.

Richard Kriheli said...

if you are reading on a deserted island (or listening to music for that matter), you are probably not doing well on the survival front. that said, i would take any field guide that teaches how to live off the land.

as much as i would love to dive into some more longer dosteyevsky pieces, i dont think i'd be able to concentrate when survival is first priority.

if the question was posed as being stranded with limitless water and food supplies, then it changes the game.

Steve Ulfelder said...

Larry McMurtry's LONESOME DOVE. The 20th century's MOBY DICK (but better).

Anonymous said...

Anything by David Sedaris.

Mary McDonald said...

Robinson Crusoe. One, I've always loved the book, and two, I'll have some good pointers on how to stay alive.

D. G. Hudson said...

DUNE by Frank Herbert, the original book setting the stage for the series. Good contrast of desert dryness with the island environment.

(Although I do have a copy of "How to survive in the Wilderness" but not sure if that applies to islands.)

Happy St. Patricks Day!

Anonymous said...

Well, when I read the first part of this blog this afternoon, I thought:

What Desert Island Book would I write?

But reading further, I see this poses a completely different quest(ion).

I'd love me some "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea" or "Treasure Island" or one rip-roaring adventure/romance/sea-yarn (see all my combining genres?).

I might choose the Bible too.

I would also be hard pressed not to take my husband's love letters...

I would smuggle them all in, swashbuckling tales, God, and words meant only for me and my heart.

MJR said...

I'd have to go with the Riverside Shakespeare also. When I got bored I could memorize poems and monologues, learn Elizabethan English, etc. I'd try to break the rules and sneak in the complete Jane Austen, too.

Meredith said...

I think I'd go with The Ambassadors or Moby Dick. Both are densely written, so take quite a bit of time to read, and both are right up at the top of my "all-time favorites" list.

Terry Odell said...

I agree with Richard and Elspeth - a survival guide would probably be the smart choice. But for an extended stay, I think I'd opt for the complete Sherlock Holmes. Unless someone comes out with a single-volume JD Robb collection.

Cheryl Barker said...

I'd take the Bible. As described in its own pages, it's "living and active" and never gets old. It offers refreshment, instruction, wisdom, peace... I could go on and on. Wouldn't want to be without it. It's my lifeline...

Mark Terry said...

Aside from "How To Build A Satellite Phone From Two Coconuts and and a Palm Frond" I'd opt for Bag of Bones by Stephen King.

Rachel said...

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. My favorite book of all time. I love the characters, love the love story, love the concern for the plagues of society, and love, love, love the humanity Dickens puts in all of his stories. Truly inspiring to me.

That's a lot of love.

Alicia J. Frey said...

I would take anything by Tolkein. Then, maybe when I began losing my mind I would have such wonderful characters to keep me company. And who knows, maybe I'd go on my own adventure and try to carry a tainted coconut to the top of the highest mountain to save the world.

Designs by JoLea said...

I'd go with the Bible. It's the ultimate literary buffet, and offers hope as well. If I had a One Year Bible, it would serve as a calendar, too!!!

Rachel said...

Oh, shoot. Can I change it? Can I bring the complete works of Shakespeare? Wait...maybe not. I don't know. This is so difficult!

Maryann Miller said...

I would take my collection of Steinbeck classics.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm going to break down, cheat, and buy a Kindle or an i-pad and get a satellite connection and a generator to keep it charged.

Must. Have. Books.


And I'd take my computer too.

(Must. Write. Books.)

P.Shaw said...

I'd take a pointer from Coehlo's protagonist in The Alchemist: pick a book that can be large enough to do double duty as a pillow.

I'd take Don Quixote – but in a nice soft leather bound edition like many bibles.

shoshana said...

Absalom Absalom by William Faulkner; incredibly rich human study. If I could take a 2nd book it would be The Unvanquished by William Faulkner

KinDallas said...

Emma, by Jane Austen. The wit, the twisting storylines, the social intrigue. Lovely stuff.

Christina Wible said...

Folly by Laurie King. With so many levels of detail and such richness I can read it over and over again and not get bored.

Stacy said...

The Never Ending Story. That way I'll never get bored!

Matt Ryan said...

"Hatchet." Unless I don't have one, because then it would just be depressing. Which then places this book at the top:

"How to Make Rum with Coconuts, Seawater, and a Campfire" by Ineida Drink.

Ink said...

Oh, Marcel Proust. That's easy. Eighty-four-gazillion pages long. And, I mean, look at the title in its two most common translations.

Remembrance of Things Past - What the hell else are we gonna do while stranded on an island?

In Search of Lost Time - Ain't that the truth...

John M. Baron said...

The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman.

OfficeGirl said...

I would have to go with Thorn Birds or Hunger Games..the second novel. Thorn Birds is just awesome and deffinately re-readable, for me anyways. And Hunger Games just keeps you on your toes... So either one of those would do.

Anonymous said...

Remembrance of Things Past .. duh! it's so long you forget the beginning by the time you're done. and on the island, eating rats, drinking coconut juice & battling heatstroke and pythons, you can feel some sense of culture

Jeanie W said...

Something by Dickens, long and loaded with colorful characters, like The Pickwick Papers or David Copperfield.

CS said...

the bell jar. i've read it at least once every year since i was about 12 and in 14 years i haven't got bored of it yet

T. Anne said...

The Bible. Really there's no better read for hope and inspiration. The author's pretty awesome too.

onefinemess said...

Illuminatus trilogy (commonly sold as a single book).

It's the only thing I've read upwards of 10 times, and still re-read every year or two.

Nick said...

Live and Let Die. Easily Fleming's best in terms of overall storytelling (YOLT featured his best writing, undoubtedly, and OHMSS features a wonderful story, to be sure), and a fairly quick read which I don't mind re-reading fairly often (I make it a point to read it every March, once it's begun to get warm again). That or The Man With the Golden Gun, which comes as a close second out of Fleming for me.

I would definitely go for the "fun" route as you can tell, but I would like my fun to have some plot to it. Much as I love me some Sexton Blake, one pulp sufficient desert island entertainment is not.

That or a book that summons Bear Grylls to the island.

Alexa said...

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Anonymous said...

What, nobody's bringing ebooks? Imagine that.

Martin said...

Twilight. Just to give me that extra push to get the hell out of there.

Scott Eagan said...

The Ascent of Rumdoodle.

Talli Roland said...

I love 'Almost French' by Sarah Turnbull. The little vignettes about wine, food and Paris would feed me virtually until I could get out of there!

Vegas Linda Lou said...

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon by Crystal Zevon.

I started this book two years ago and refuse to finish it because I don’t want it to end. Maybe if it’s all I have on a deserted island, though...

Thermocline said...

A book on origami. I'd get tired of reading the same book, but you can never have too many frogs, dragonflies, flowers, and swans made out of palm tree leaves.

Melody Maysonet said...

Watership Down. I need my Bigwig fix.

reader said...

The Ruins, by Scott Smith

Kay said...

A waterproof trunk filled with books, on pontoons, so I have a book for whatever mood I'm in. It might even help me escape the island.

Aimee said...

Definitely The Life of Pi. It's about a kid on a boat in the middle of the ocean and how he has the faith to survive. Appropriate and really good writing and uplifting.

roxy said...

I think I'd choose Great Expectations. When I feel lonely on that island, I could read about Pippen and find a kindred spirit.

Ken Hannahs said...

What was Dwight's answer to this in The Office? The fourth Harry Potter book, or something? Whatever he said.

The Dreamer of Dreams said...

My first choice would be The Lord of the Rings (three books in one).

I'm sort of surprised that no one has suggested Lord of the Flies. All about survival AND a crazy story to boot.

Kristine Overbrook said...

Clan of the Cave Bear. Awesome read. Has a little of everything including how to make tools, healing herbs and a variety of hunting techniques. Oh and did I mention it's an awesome read?

Kasey said...

Definitely The Giver by Lois Lowry. That or Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta, although I'd probably still have to go with the first. The Giver is the only book I love enough to reread a million times. I have read it so much that I can pretty much quote any section of the story and considering my usually memory for stories is rather poor I'd say that's impressive.

Rachel @ MWF Seeking BFF said...

Unquestionably, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (the seventh one). There's so much to uncover in that book, I'd get a new insight every time!

Renee Miller said...

Oh, there are some really good books listed. The How To books are great ideas, however, I would not be on a raft; definitely not one I built. How to survive on a deserted island might be good, but I'm terrible with directions.

Which book would I bring? A notebook. And hopefully a pencil, you know, so I don't have to improvise and write with blood...or something.

ryan field said...

The World According to Garp, because it where it's set.

I'm a Yankee, and if I were stranded anywhere that was tropical for too long I'd want to be reminded of the northeastern seaboard.

Julie said...

It's a toss up between A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving and The Lord of the Rings. Owen is my favorite book of all time, but I'd probably have to go with LOTR just for the entertainment factor, the fact that it's 3 in 1 and because if I'm alone on a desert island, I'd probably need to have Aragorn for company.

Mira said...

I rarely read poetry, but if I were stuck on an island, that might be the way to go.

Partly because poetry would give me alot to think about. Being stuck on an island, I'd probably be going all existential.

And partly because sometimes poetry just makes me mad. That could be an incentive to get off the island.

Or, alternatively, the book: "Why do bad things happen to good people?" If I were stuck on an island, I might be looking for an answer to that questin.

Anonymous said...

Stephen King's "Skeleton Crew." It's a collection of short stories, so there's a lot to mine. Plus, it contains "Survivor Type," a story about a man stranded on a desert island.

Anonymous said...

I would have to say The Time Machine by H.G Wells which is my favorite book of all time.

buildingalife said...

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salam Rushdie. It's one of my favorite books of all time and no matter how many times I read it, it always puts me in a good mood - and really I think I'd need a mood lifter if I'm on a deserted island.

And the binding is really durable on my edition, which is probably something to consider.

Derrick said...

This question makes me realize that Amazon needs to make a solar powered Kindle.

DO YOU HEAR ME AMAZON?! MAKE A SOLAR POWERED KINDLE!

I figure anybody who's anybody reads Nathan's blog so this is great place to make my request.

Scott said...

It'd be between The Complete Works of Shakespeare, or some kind of poetry, probably. Sampling from Leonard Cohen's Book of Longing at the moment, and many of his poems were written while he was a monk, so that might be helpful. Although he is awfully hard up. W.H. Auden would also be nurturing yet keep my brain active and sharp.

Ulysses said...

The Encyclopedia Brittanica. In addition to being a good, informative and above all LONG read, it contains many pages.

Pages have two important uses on a desert island. One is for starting fires. The other requires soft paper.

(Although if we're just talking READING, I'd go with anything by Terry Pratchett).

Jemi Fraser said...

Lord of the Rings. Although I think Elspeth & Richard are making the smarter choices :)

Marilyn Peake said...

I agree with Derrick about a solar-powered Kindle. If I had to bring only one book, it would be a non-fiction book about how to survive on a desert island. For fiction, it would probably be THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver.

Erin McGuire said...

Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, or Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.

Neither are particularly long, but definitely rereadable.

Tere Kirkland said...

Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. If I had no other books to read on the island, I might finally be able to get through that book's dense descriptive passages without my eyes glazing over. Fifteen years now I've been trying to read that **cker.

If I'm being serious... Zola's The Ladies Paradise. For some reason the lavish descriptive scenes in this book are a joy to read. And I adore the story.

But I'd trade them both for a field book of edible plants of the South Pacific, or a book on fiber weaving. ;)

P. Bradley Robb said...

The cheesy answer? A blank notebook.

The practical answer? "How to build a raft"

But, as for reading, probably the Count of Monte Cristo.

veela-valoom said...

Moby Dick? I hate that book with a passion. Studied it during college. You can take large chunks of that book out and still have the same story because all the actions are in the last 40 pages. You know, when the whale actually shows up. Of course then it would make GREAT firestarters.

Honestly I don't know right now but I know that Moby Dick would be my last choice. Sorry. (I tend to go the opposite direction of Moby Dick, more of a Hemingway fan. Don't show me everything, only a little)

Nicole said...

I'm going with the Bible. Can we bring an ebook reader filled with our favorite books and some source of power to charge it? I'm not an e-book fan but in this case it would be great!

Karen Mahoney said...

House of Leaves (Mark Z. Danielewski), without a doubt. So much to read, re-read & discover.

MaryAnn said...

Absolutely agree with the Jane Austen novels. Otherwise, all/any Harry Potter book.

Edward W. Robertson said...

Catch-22. Covers every base you mentioned. On a desert island, you could even try out Dunbar's "experience an ultra-long life through endless boredom" theory.

Eric said...

Gravity's Rainbow.

Lee L. said...

The book I would have would have to be the Harry Potter series, particularly if they print all 7 in one (which would probably never leave my side if they did); but if I could only have one of the series, it would have to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as it is my favorite of the series. I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan and have already read the each book several times and still enjoy the experience (though there is nothing like reading a Harry Potter book for the very first time, which is the only thing I miss about the series being over).

Lee L. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
maybe genius said...

Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart. It's a fast read, but it's my absolute favorite book. It blends mystery, fantasy, Chinese folklore, humor, and wonderful characters. I could read it over and over.

Wanda B. Ontheshelves said...

I'll say...a cookbook with pictures. For when I'm hungry on a desert island, I'll just feast my eyes.

Karen said...

I'm going to join the masses that I'm sure will say "Pride and Prejudice". (Actually, could we all be sent to the same desert island together? Nothing like kindred spirits to pass the time.)

Stephanie L. McGee said...

The Lord of the Rings

Scott said...

Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay.

Avery June said...

The Moor's Last Sigh

Anonymous said...

Atlas shrugged. Especially since i'd be having to make it on my own. :)

Nick Pease said...

Catcher In The Rye - J. D. Salinger
or maybe
Looking For Alaska - John Green

Sheritha said...

Hi Nathan, I saw your pic for the first time...U r gorgeous! sher

T.M. Lunsford said...

The complete works of Jane Austen or C.S. Lewis

Heather said...

Gone with the Wind. Man I love that book!

Shelley Watters said...

Since I'm a YA author, I'd have to say the Harry Potter series. I have not had time to read the series yet, so I figure if I'm stuck on a desert island I would finally have the time to read them!

And they are long too, so at least they would keep me busy for a while.

It would be a toss up though, I'd also like to have a book on the flora and fauna of the region, so I know what I can and can't eat, and what is and isn't poisonous.

Do survive or be entertained... Quite a dilemma.

Christopher said...

I actually wrote this up on my blog last year. I did more than just a book. I did movie, album, video game with it.

My book choice is Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

If you are interested in the other choices I made here is the link:

http://www.csdaley.com/2009/10/my-desert-island.html

Reesha said...

I'd have to go with the Count of Monte Cristo as well. Not only does it have islands in it, but it's really long.
Plus, I could force myself to ration out its serialized chapters: One for every sandcastle I build!
Then it would last me even longer and I'd get a chance to stop and think about each chapter before I moved on, just like the original readers of it did when it first came out.

The Red Angel said...

I was going to say one of my favorite reads like Harry Potter or My Sister's Keeper, but then I changed my mind.

I would most probably bring Pride and Prejudice or Crime & Punishment. Both are take a lot of time and energy to read since they are written very intelligently and are extremely verbose, so I'd have to work on them for a while on the desert. Plus, I hear they are very good books. :)

Terry said...

If I were stuck on a desert island, I probably wouldn't have planned ahead.

But OK, I'd cheat like Julia, The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Or maybe Neil Gaiman's, American Gods. That's pretty fat.

Lynne Connolly said...

On "Desert Island Discs," the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare are already there. After years of copouts the producers finally gave the castaways that concession.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qnmr
My book would be Dickens' "Bleak House." An awe-inspiring masterpiece, but also so full of life that it'd keep me going.

Catherine Gayle said...

The Complete Works of Shakespeare. Maybe then I'd finally get around to reading ALL of them. I've read most of them, but there are a few that I'm missing.

Kelly Dexter said...

I'd have to go with Tad Williams' The War of the Flowers. The world within the pages of that book is one I never want to leave, and Theo Vilmos is a protagonist I alternately identify with and fantasize about. Plus, it has the best platonic friendship between a male and a female that I've ever read.

AndrewDugas said...

The Ingenious Hidalgo Don Quixote of La Mancha

If not on a desert island, where?

VR Barkowski said...

THE HOBBIT. It's one of the few books I can read over and over and not tire of. And who knows how long I might be on that island?

Gehayi said...

I'd pick SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate, on Land or at Sea by John Lofty Wiseman, because I know that I have absolutely no skills for survival in the wild, and I'm going to need an instruction manual. Preferably with matching survival kit.

If I can have that and one book for pleasure reading, I'll take A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. It's chock-full of plot and interesting characters, and I know that I won't get bored by it. (It's already survived a seven-month bout in the hospital with me, so I figure it's been tested in the crucible already.)

LeeAnn Flowers said...

Island of the Blue Dolphins or Robinson Crusoe if we're going for useful or somewhat useful books.

Dragonsdawn for sheer re-readability.

The Silmarillion for a mind-sharpening read.

katiewalker said...

Stephen King's Under the Dome. I got it at Christmas, and I keep finding new books to read. Because it's so big, it's at the bottom so the other's don't fall over.

If I've read it, definitely Harry Potter and the Order of Phoenix. For some unknown reason, I just keep reading it again. And again. And again. 21 times and counting.

Jess the Reader said...

I adore The Changeover, by Margaret Mahy. I read it about every two months or so, and I would never get bored by it.

That would definitely be my desert island book.

Phyllis said...

One of the big ones I never finished, like Ulysses or Gravity's Rainbow. Probably Ulysses.

*makes mental note to read some survival books before being banned to an island*

John N said...

A Confederacy of Dunces

30GreatBooks said...

The first book that springs to mind is Possession, by A.S. Byatt. I'm not totally sure why except that it's long, complex, and incorporates multiple genres like romance and mystery. I loved it the first time around...hopefully I would still love it the 45th time around too.

Stacey said...

Definitely Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice. At least I could dream about Mr. Darcy.

Anonymous said...

Or Ashley's Book of Knots, it's really long, I could spend time learning how to tie many knots, and I could read the history of each one while I was at it. Some of the knots might be useful, I could make a hammock or use them to tie a raft together.

Lani Longshore said...

I'll bring an introduction to psychoanalysis. If I'm stuck on a desert island with only one book, no materials to make quilts, and probably no chocolate, I'm going to need something to help me identify the ways I'll go barking mad.

Kate said...

My American lit. professor in college promised to be uncharacteristically militant and take off major pointage if we failed to hyphenate the title in our Moby-Dick term papers. Herman lovers are very intense about the hyphen!

My book would be the Bible, or Pride and Prejudice, or maybe a Harry Potter book since I've never read them and, apparently, they're pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Mila 18 by Leon Uris

Cyndy Aleo-Carreira said...

Definitely my Riverside Shakespeare. I always know where it is in the house in case of fire, too. Second choice would be my complete Dickens. Died laughing at @Martin for his Twilight comment. I bet you've secretly enjoyed it, though. ;)

Rollie Raleigh said...

Gravity's Rainbow for fun and to keep my brain stimulated. My other option is Don Quixote to explore how a man wrote a novel before there were novels (And I know the full title too, but why bother).

As for Proust, I suggest that for those with only a few days to live because like Orr in Catch 22 if you are really bored, time passes slowly and thus you seem to live longer.

Chassily Wakefield said...

The Complete (75 pound) Works of JK Rowling. ;)

Short Thoughts said...

"Why, A Practical Guide to Shipbuilding, of course." ~ G. K. Chesterton

Liam said...

A compacted collection of Diana Wynne Jones, whom I worship.

Abby Stevens said...

Can't I have three? I'd take The Bible, Gone With the Wind, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Sorry, I need all three.

:D

wendy said...

The most powerful book I know, The Bible. The New Testament, especially, encourages you to eliminate negativity which I'm sometimes prone to. ('Why worry about tomorrow? Will it add an extra day to your life? Tomorrow will take care of itself.')

Oh, and the Lord of The Rings trilogy if I could carry another three. The Twilight series as well if I've thoughtfully packed my backpack with no survival gear but plenty of books.

AM Riley said...

Devlin's Boatbuilding: How to Build Any Boat the Stitch-and-Glue Way

And maybe the complete 'Foundation' series by Asimov.

Tiffany said...

Tess of the Dubervilles. Weird I named my mc after her. :-)

p.s Moby Dick is brilliant. I wrote one of my last grad school papers on the novel's warning against male-only communities.

D. Michael Olive said...

Robert Ludlum's "The Matarese"

Lucinda said...

Sometimes my own living room feels like a deserted island, survival would not be a problem. So, if I could take all the books off my bookshelf and only be left with one for a long time, I would have to say, the Bible.

Can I choose a second one? "Discourses of Epictetus."

Michelle said...

Wow, never realized how much I had in common with so many of your followers!

The Bible would be my top pick. But life without Jane Austen and Dickens? It would be a lonely island indeed. (Jane Eyre is right up there, too.) I also love the Count of Monte Cristo, but that would cause me to crave the sandwich of the same name--not good on a coconut diet!

Michelle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rebecca L said...

I'd have to say Homer's Illiad or Odyssey.... :) I love Greek Mythology, and you'd need all that time to re-read it, so you can understand it fully.

Rebecca LuElla Miller said...

Definitely the Bible. It's got plenty of stories for the days I'd want people around, and it's weighty, giving me lots of unpacking to do. Plus it would lift my spirits. And as a bonus, it would express my fears and needs as well.

But if we're limited to fiction, I'd say The Scarlet Pimpernel, just because I haven't reread it for a while.

Martha Vega said...

Practicality aside, my gut reaction would be to take my copy of the complete writings of Oscar Wilde. He's got a little of everything, poems, fairy tales, short stories, essays, letters, all sorts of plays, and I love almost all of it.

Alternately, I might be persuaded to take a dual-language version of the Divine Comedy, as an excuse to get through "Paradiso" and "Purgatorio" and practice reading Italian.

Josin L. McQuein said...

Raft Building for Dummies

:-P

vickachic said...

Without a doubt:

The Sex Lives of Cannibals, hilarious and absurdly fitting for the moment.

Alpha-Mom said...

This is a tough one, but... if I think of the book(s) I've re-read most over the years it'd have to be LOTR. Any part of the trilogy, but hopefully I'd have enough smarts to have a 3-in-one set. I wish I could be more literary or more daring than that. The other two options would be Grimm's Fairy Tales or King Arthur.

Kim Batchelor said...

No question: One Hundred Years of Solitude. A long book which reveals something new every time I read it.

Joseph L. Selby said...

I'm bringing my ereader. Utilizing schematics copied from the Professor on Gilligan's Island, I will construct a power supply from the indigenous coconuts to keep the reader operational. I will then be able to vary my time across a spectrum of fiction and nonfiction to give me ideas on how to survive and spruce up my island.

jef said...

SON OF THE MORNING STAR
by Evan S. Connell

Paul Reali said...

Assuming that "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare" does not count as one book, I choose the rich, multi-layered, prose-by-a-poet, "All the King's Men."

Of course, this question might be moot once we have the solar-powered Kindle.

Lindsey Edwards said...

I agree with Chuck H. about the bible, same reasons. If the harry potter books were one book, I'd pick that, but you can't read just one! *g* I guess anything by romance author Shana Abe. Her books read like poetry and the descriptions pop with life. Just beautiful!

GerriB said...

Cyteen by C. J. Cherryh

JoAnn said...

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. Is that still in print? My paper back was nibbled on by a mouse...So hilarious, and prefect for island living. I don't plan on living on the island for too long. I have a dependence on toilet paper that would inhibit a long term residence.

Kathleen Guler said...

Anything by Sharon Kay Penman, preferably Here Be Dragons.

Susan M said...

If nonfiction, it would definitely be the Bible. If fiction, Lord of the Rings. It is the book I have reread the most, next to the Bible. (Actually I've probably read all the way through LOTR more than I've done that with the Bible...)

Rick Daley said...

WATCHMEN

It's a great story, the parallel story of CURSE OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER fits with the desert island, and it has incredible artwork to boot.

LindaBudz said...

The Bible, definitely. Happy St. Pat's Day!

Yvonne said...

The Once and Future King - T.H. White

PSGifford said...

Wuthering heights.

Della Luna said...

Probably shud have a survival handbook on a desert island but I'll take The Snow Leopard by Peter Mathiessen - maybe then I would finish reading it.

Malia Sutton said...

And Ladies of the Club. by Helen Hooven Santmyer

Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado said...

I saw Tali's suggestion, "Almost French" by Sarah Turnbull. I love it and in my landlubbing bookshelf it sits right between "A Thousand Days in Venice" by Marlena di Blasi and "The Sixteen Pleasures" by Robert Hellenga. Three beautifully written books, set in lovely locations
Joanna van der Gracht de Rosado

Tatiana said...

Pride and Prejudice. I love that book and could (and have) read it over and over again.

CKHB said...

Am I seriously going to be the first one to say War & Peace? Especially after reading what The Millions had to say, it's a no-brainer.

First thoughts also included The Riverside Shakespeare, A Farewell to Arms, The Cider House Rules, and Proust (because I've always wanted to read him in the original French, but I think being stranded on an island is the only way I'll ever make time to do that!)

ElizaJane said...

On the program "Desert Island Discs" they got so many people saying The Bible or the Complete Shakespeare that they now give those for free to all castaways! So if I've got those two, then the other thing I'd take would be the complete Pepys' Diary. At around 20 volumes, rich with anecodote and description covering decades of Pepys' life, it would be not just like having another person on the island; it would be like having an entire civilization there with me.

Courtney Price said...

I hate to say it, but it's "Gone with the Wind"... cliche answer? Maybe. But I really honestly love it. Crap, I probably should have said something spiritual :)

Valerie Keiser Norris said...

I take more than one book on an overnight visit! But okay, if only one, I guess it would be...The Dollmaker by Harriet Arnow.

Anonymous said...

"MeyowYum and the Cat-eating Space Monkeys."

One of the great classics.

Gehayi said...

ElizaJane: I wonder if "Desert Island Discs" lets you trade in either the Bible discs or the Shakespeare ones for something else if you don't want one of them?

Jonathon Arntson said...

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE.

Madeleine said...

I'd go with fun and slightly helpful: THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins. Not the most intellectual of reads, but it does instruct a bit on survival AND could cheer me up. :D

ElizaJane said...

Re. "Desert Island Discs" and trading in The Bible: some BBC Radio 4 fan from England will know this for sure, but I think castaways have asked for this and been told nope, that's your culture, take it or... take it.

Cozy in Texas said...

Empire Falls by Richard Russo. I never get tired of reading and studying it.
Ann
www.cozyintexas.blogspot.com
www.annsummerville.cm

RBSHoo said...

The Stand.

although whoever wrote, "How to Build a Raft" gave me a good chuckle.

Katy said...

the secret history by donna tartt. it's my favorite book ever, and i could happily read it until the rescue ship found me. :-)

sewbissy said...

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim, if survival books aren't allowed. It may not be thick, but it's got so much relationship humor that I'd never feel like I'd left the human world behind (assuming I would be alone on the island).

Aven said...

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Hands down, my favorite book of all time.

Jamie Pohlman said...

Dave Eggers "A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius"

It got me through middle of the night feedings with my fourth child. Should be able to get me through a stranding on a desert island.

Sharon Kirk Clifton said...

A good study Bible would be Number One. Come on. Please can't I also have HATCHET (to help me survive), the complete works of Robert Frost, the CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, LORD OF THE RINGS, and ANNE OF GREEN GABLES series, and. . . ? Oh, yes, and a crate of Moleskine notebooks, a good dictionary, ROGET'S THESAURUS, the latest HARBRACE ENGLISH HANDBOOK, and an assortment of Writer's Digest books. That's a beginning. How about writing utensils? I need those. And. . .okay. I'll quite. Hey, you're the one who asked the question. Not me.

lora96 said...

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Gorgeous, reflective, intelligent--plus if Francie can overcome all the poverty and squalor, what's a little island solitude to complain about?

Rachel Hamm said...

I'll be the fourteenth person to say Jane Austen! Specifically P&P for me, but any one of her books is lifetime reading worthy!

If I could pick one fiction, one non fiction, I'd do P&P by Ms. Austen and Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I'm surprised no one else mentioned Miller- he's a phenomenal writer and really gets into the heart of spirituality and individuality.

Erica75 said...

I'm assuming it's because I live in a Great Lakes state that I have no idea what a desert island actually is. Is it water? Is it sand? I know how to both swim and walk, but a book would weigh me down, so I'm confused as to why I would need it.

Ashley A. said...

I'd have to say the Bible. The NRSV version with lots and lots of footnotes and the Apocrypha. I couldn't bear not having something to read, and that should tide me over.

Second choice that just came to me: a complete edition of the Greek Myths by, say, Robert Graves.

Ms Snarky Pants said...

Can't I have an ebook reader with a solar charger? :-D

Kristi said...

THE KEYS OF ENOCH as it would take me a lifetime on a desert island to understand it all.

@Martin w/ the Twilight comment - hilarious!

K. E. Carson said...

I'd have to go with Simone Elkeles' Perfect Chemisty. I don't read much romance, but man, something about that book lets me read it again and again. And I get quite bored with reading books again.

Melissa Gill said...

Yep, the Bible for sure. What a great mixed bag of history, verse, sex, murder, enlightenment, and inspiration. You can skip always skip over the begats. Plus, if you like Robinson Crusoe and happen to have goats on your island, you might be able to pick up some valuable goat husbandry. Whatever, you could never get bored reading it.

Robert McGuire said...

The Riverside Shakespeare. In fact, I have taken it to desert islands. (Well, on extended sojourns in places where English-language books are hard to come by.) It keeps a reader busy!

Our Vaulted Sky said...

"Maia" by Watership Down author Richard Adams is absolutely my desert island pick. The paperback is about four inches thick with tension and adventure on every page. Each time I find myself in a used books store I search for it. I've bought it over and over (it's out of print) and loan it out to friends heading to a beach. I never get it back.

abc said...

I'm going to straight up answer the question. My all time favorite book (cliche as it might be) is The Great Gatsby, so I have to go with that.

P.S. I'm tempted to pick a book I haven't read but think I should, like Gravity's Rainbow, but I'm going with my heart.


weep weep.

Linnea said...

'The Diving Bell and the Butterfly' - to keep my predicament in perspective.

David F. Weisman said...

Elspeth Antonelli (third comment) beat me to it. If we deem wickedly practical ideas worn out, maybe I'll go with Chuck H.'s Bible. I hope I never get to the point where I wish I chose a rice paper book for consumability.

Gehayi said...

Yep, the Bible for sure. What a great mixed bag of history, verse, sex, murder, enlightenment, and inspiration.

@Melissa Gill:

Whether or not the Bible contains great verse depends very much on the version you've got. The version I have contains phrases like "Martha was the jittery type" (Luke 10:40), "Anyone who chooses you needs to have his head examined" (Isaiah 41:24), and "A cranky woman" (Proverbs 27:15). It's more sitcom-normal than poetic.

Wendy said...

I think I'll borrow Nathan's Kindle. And one of those nifty backpack battery chargers. Then, I can just download whatever I'm in the mood for.

If that fails, then how about my complete Encyclopedia Britannica. Or, if I'm really only allowed one book, I'd have to take the Complete Works of Shakespeare because it's the single biggest book I own.

Cheryl said...

I would take Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (in Middle English, no modern translations, but a glossary or notes would be handy). Hands down, one of my most favourite collections of literary works.

If I may make a request, I would like to take an illuminated manuscript so that I can look at some gorgeous pictures as well as read the text.

praneydeb said...

I would totally go with LORD OF THE RINGS..

It'll gimme the strength to fight the dark forces, inside & out

Jess said...

I am currently rereading The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. I have read it a million times already, and every time, I love it more. I doubt I would ever get tired of that book, and it's comfort "food" so to speak.

Jess said...

p.s. And I have to say, with a book like that, I wouldn't mind waiting for the rescue boat.

ElizaJane said...

Now that I hear that there is a Bible with translations like "Martha was the jittery type" I must specify that I want the King James version. I'd even trade that for Pepys Diary!

Backfence said...

Outlander by Gabaldon because I never tire of it.

Vacuum Queen said...

Hmmm.....maybe.....To Kill a Mockingbird? Only because it's one of the few books I don't mind reading more than once.

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