A couple of years ago I wrote a post called ‘Desert Island Books‘ where I took the concept of Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4) and chose books instead of music. It wasn’t a new concept by any means but I enjoyed the format and I’m revisiting that concept today because many of the books I’d choose to take to a desert island have changed. I’ll include my original list at the bottom of this post so we can compare 2018 to 2021.
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
Calvino’s Invisible Cities is one of the most fascinating books I’ve read in years and I adore the way it’s written. Reading it was an immersive experience but it was whimsical and very charming. It’s a beautifully written book that requires slow and careful reading and that would make it the perfect book to take to a desert island. I could have also chosen If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller by Italo Calvino for this list but Invisible Cities has lingered with me since I read it a couple of months ago.
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
This is the only book that has survived from my original list and that’s because it is one of my all-time favourite books. I had to include it in this list because it’s funny, surprisingly complex, and very entertaining. It’s just a great story and it would definitely keep my spirits up if I was stuck on a desert island.
Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett
Another Terry Pratchett book because he’s one of my favourite writers. I had to choose one of the Discworld novels because they mean so much to me. I recently read Equal Rites and loved it! It was a short, fun read and I found it thoroughly entertaining. It did touch upon serious topics but, as with all of Pratchett’s books, they were explored with great wit and humour. A wonderful book to have with you on a desert island.
Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
I fell in love with this book when I read it at the beginning of this year and I’d be happy to re-read it multiple times on a desert island. Hardy’s novel is both heart-breaking and heart-warming as he creates a touching story about love, loss, and seduction. I’d be entertained for hours by the story that Hardy weaves, even if certain parts of it would break my heart every single time I read it.
The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu
I did find The Tale of Genji fascinating when I first read it but I’m not going to lie, I chose to include this because it’s incredibly long. I’d be able to re-read it multiple times and always find a new way to read it. I’d never get bored of it so it’d be a great book to have on a desert island. (I’m actually planning on re-reading this book after I finish my PhD so I’ll be able to test this theory.)
Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier
I had a du Maurier book on my original list too but I’d choose Frenchman’s Creek over Rebecca now. Frenchman’s Creek was a wonderful adventure story, although the description was a little odd at times, and I really enjoyed reading it. Dona’s yearning for escape and freedom might hit a bit close to home if I was actually stranded on a desert island but at least the book would provide me with an escape.
The Italian by Ann Radcliffe
I had a really tough time choosing which Gothic novel to include on this list and I went back and forth between Matthew Lewis’ The Monk and Radcliffe’s The Italian for a while. Clearly, The Italian won in the end. It is, without a doubt, my favourite Radcliffe novel because it’s so far away from her usual stories (mainly because it’s a response to The Monk) but it has Radcliffe’s distinct style.
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
I could read Housekeeping over and over and over again and I’d never get bored. I read it very recently but it instantly became a new favourite of mine because it’s such a special book. Everything about it is absolutely stunning and this book would keep me emerged in another world for days if I was actually stranded on a desert island.
- Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- Perdido Street Station by China Mieville
- Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
- American Gods by Neil Gaiman
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