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Desert Island Books, 2011 edition

Back in 2008 I posted a list of my Desert Island Books, and now I think it’s time to do another one. Just to make sure I do this right, I didn’t look at the old list before drawing up this version.

There can be more than one book in a volume, but I can only choose10 volumes plus a book of national importance to my culture and one religious book.
Since there is no electricity on my fictional desert island and I can only take a limited number of batteries with me – all of which I will need to power my flashlight and an emergency radio – I can not take an e-book reader.

My culturally important book is the Icelandic Sagas and the religious book is the Koran.

If only allowed to take 10 volumes (plus the above two) I would choose:

  • The collected works of William Shakespeare, because I want to finish reading the plays and, frankly, I need seclusion in order to concentrate on the historical plays.
  • Le Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Mallory. I love Arthurian legends and have only read a few chapters of this.
  • One of my Terry Pratchett omnibuses (three books in one volume).
  • The Once and Future King by T.H. White (all the books in one volume).
  • The Gormenghast trilogy by Mervyn Peake, in one volume.
  • The Arabian Nights, a contemporary translation. I read an old, cleaned-up version as a teenager and now I would like to read an unexpurgated one.
  • Dalalíf (an Icelandic multi-generational family epic) by Guðrún frá Lundi. Something I have always wanted to read but never got round to.
  • South Wind by Normal Douglas, because I want to read it and because it takes place on an island, albeit not a desert one.
  • Nostromo by Joseh Conrad. Another TBR book I have been putting off reading.
  • Ulysses by James Joyce. I am not ready to sacrifice one of my other choices for a book of annotations for Ulysses, so I will only choose this one if I can find an annotated version (it probably doesn’t exist, as the resulting volume would weigh in at about 2 kilos or have type so minuscule as to require a magnifying glass to read it). If the above is unavailable I would instead choose Sjálfstætt Fólk (Independent People) by Halldór Laxness.

Taking a look at the old list I see that only three of my previously self-chosen books made the cut (White, Guðrún frá Lundi and The Arabian Nights) and the culturally important book was the same. I guess that tells me what I should be reading in the course of the year...

Dear reader, do you have a list of desert island books?


George said…
Culturally significant book: HUCKLEBERRY FINN (the truest book about America)
Religious book: King James BIBLE (for the language)
2. MOBY DICK-Herman Melville
5. COMPLETE ESSAYS-Samuel Johnson
6. COMPLETE ESSAYS-George Orwell
10. UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY (Large Print Edition)
Bibliophile said…
Great list, George. I see you included non-fiction, which is cool, and like my choices, these are all pretty hefty books. I currently only have one piece of non-fiction I would put on a list like this one if I had to include non-fiction: After Babel by George Steiner.
George said…
Thank you for your kind words about my list. Next week, it would probably be a different list of books. I'm conflicted about George Steiner. I read his books, but sometimes his convoluted prose leaves me lost. Sometimes, reading one of his essays is about as satisfying as eating a Twinkie (which is mostly made of air).

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