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broodings from the burrow

July 27, 2021

top ten desert isle reads
posted by soe 2:13 am

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday topic from That Artsy Reader Girl asks, if stranded on a deserted island, what would be the ten books you’d like to have with you:

  1. One of those all in one OEDs with the magnifying glasses so you can read the tiny print. How irritating would it be to not be able to think of the word you’re looking for and to only have your own decaying brain to rely on? (Bonus, the magnifying glass can be used to help with starting a fire. Minus, I don’t know how to do that and would not want to waste one of my ten slots on a book that tells me.)
  2. That said, there is a single-volume encyclopedia that dates from earlier this century, the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia. Sure, it’s already outdated. However, I’m stranded, and there’s benefit to a 2000-page book on 28,000 topics. (Side note: did you know there is still a print encyclopedia being made? Clearly I couldn’t take a 22-volume set on a doomed cruise or flight, but it’s something to keep in mind for more mundane needs.)
  3. I took The Sagas of the Icelanders (all 848 pages of it) with me to Reykjavik, and didn’t get very far. I’m assuming I’ll be stranded for more than a week, though, so having a lengthy tome would be helpful.
  4. Sticking with the big books theme, let’s go with a Complete Works of Shakespeare. Dad has one that he once kindly offered to lend me when I was reading … maybe Pericles? … but since I was mostly reading it on the Metro, that seemed impractical. Endless days on the beach or in a makeshift hammock, though? Sure! (And Pericles would be a great play to return to for this scenario.)
  5. Poetry would be a good choice for a deserted island. Lots of time to dissect word choice and layered meanings. I’m thinking Good Poems for Hard Times, edited by Garrison Keillor, might be an apt choice. I’d be open to a different poetry collection, but I’d want to stick with one with multiple authors.
  6. I have a collected works of Charlotte and Emily Brontë (I don’t know why they slighted Anne) that I bought on vacation in middle school at an Annie’s Book Stop on Cape Cod. (I am too lazy to walk over to the bookshelf by the bathroom and find the actual title.) This would be a good selection, because I could finally get around to reading Charlotte’s other works, and if I needed to burn pages to start a fire, I could start with the St. John chapters of Jane Eyre and any part of Wuthering Heights that still pisses me off. (I loved it as a melodramatic teen, can’t remember my thoughts from college, and hated it in grad school. Who knows what re-reading it in my 40s will bring?)
  7. Again, sticking with a theme, I’m thinking for my last item (I already wrote the next group), I’d go with The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. I imagine the longer I’m stuck on the island, the more I’ll be grateful for this choice. (Although including it does bump Austen off my list.)
  8. -10. The last three are sentimental favorites — books that went with me to college and that came down with me to D.C. when we pretty much just moved cats, sleeping bags, microwave, and a single box of Very Important Books (because I couldn’t see how I’d get through the move without them): Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, and Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone.

How about you? What sort of books would you want to have with you if you were stuck on a desert isle?

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