Desert island books

This post was inspired by a posting on a reading board I occasionally visit. The original poster called for the members to nominate 10 books they would take with them for a year’s stay on a desert island. All survival necessities would be taken care of, giving you plenty of time to read. In addition to 10 self-chosen books, we could take the collected works of William Shakespeare and the Bible or another religious book.

Shakespeare was made mandatory in that particular challenge, which is not surprising as the board is frequented mostly by native speakers of English. Since I am not a native speaker of English and Shakespeare has not had much influence on my native literature, I nominate instead the equivalent in Icelandic literature: The Sagas. As to a religious book, I would choose the Mahabaratha.

I chose a blend of old favourites and books I have wanted to read but not got around to. I have changed the list a bit from what I posted to the board, as I have had some time to mull it over.

The List:
  • The Jón Árnason collected Icelandic folk tales (technically one book, although it is in several volumes).
  • Dalalíf by Guðrún frá Lundi (an Icelandic novel of country life in several volumes).
  • The Arabian Nights (read it as a teenager and would like to revisit it).
  • Gargantua and Pantagruel by Rabelais.
  • The collected d'Artagnan romances by Dumas (The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After and The Vicomte of Bragelonne: Ten Years Later).
  • The Once and Future King by T.H. White.
  • Small Gods by Terry Pratchett.
  • The Norton Anthology of English Literature.
  • London: A biography by Peter Ackroyd.
  • The condensed edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (there is some fascinating reading to be found in the OED if you are interested in etymology).

This is just what I would choose if I was leaving today. Tomorrow it might be totally different. As a matter of fact, I might revisit this subject again next year, since several of the books are actually on my TBR list.

You may have noticed that these are mostly very long books. That is because I don’t see the point of taking short ones when you can only take so few. I would rather take the long ones and risk not having finished them all at the end of the year rather than having to re-read a number of short books to keep myself occupied.

Dear Reader: Which books would you choose for a year’s stay on a desert island? Would you replace the Bible and collected works of Shakespeare with something else? (has to be one religious book and one pillar of your national literature).


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