Books Magazine

Desert Island Books

By Ashleylister @ashleylister

Marooned on a desert island, what would you do with your time? 

This week on the blog we’re discussing Desert Island Books, our own little take on the longest running factual radio show of all time.
You already know the format- 8 musical recordings, a book, the works of Shakespeare, a bible or other philosophical text and a luxury item. No people unless you’re John Cleese taking a stuffed Palin (although I believe he plans to visit the island for a travel show so you could chance it that he’ll stop in). I’m flipping it and losing the tunes (and please note, that is how you spell lose, there is no untightening to do) in place of books. Here are my choices.
The Scouting Book for Boys
Baden Powell may be the source of all evil for some kids. For me, the chance to explore, escape and learn for myself was invaluable. The book that started a movement will come in useful whilst stranded on an island. Dib dib dib. The Rattle Bag
I must have spent half an hour trying to decide amongst my poetry anthologies. It was a toss up between this and ‘The 20th Century in Poetry’ and finally I decided the variety is slightly better in this collection, gathered up by masters of verse Heaney and Hughes.
The Works of Dickens
This is not cheating. I simply couldn’t decide having read (gasp) none of these texts all the way through. Always love the adaptations, never have time to dig out the classics. I could start by buying this book, just in time to read the Christmas Stories.
Concrete Island
JG Ballard’s novel strands an exec in the space between two motorway segments. Since studying this for A level, it is one of those books I like to read from time to time- if just because I know it well enough to pick up and put down again. I’m easily distracted. Note: Read alongside The Tempest (from the Shakespeare you get automatically, remember).
Heart of Darkness
The Horror. The Horror.
Okay, so this isn’t exactly Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now but as the original, it stands on its own merits. It seems ridiculous to think Conrad was writing in his second language much more eloquently than most muster in their first. Even a two month stint in analysing the lexemes out of this can’t destroy my love of this novel.
Enduring Love
Probably not McEwan’s best, (Atonement) but with one of the most spectacular openings I can remember and a love triangle involving a gay, religious, stalker, it is hard to not like this book. Gripping, smart and original, I defy you to forget Jed once you’ve read it. For sheer memorability, I’m putting it in. (PS My mother hates this book but would probably take Discworld books with her- enough said).
A big Spanish and English Dictionary
I’m a poet. I want the dictionary for words. I fancy learning Spanish whilst I’m sat there. I’m a curious mind, what else can I say.
The Notebook of Shaun BrookesI’ll need somewhere to write my new ideas and poems down, won’t I? Wishful thinking that this counts as a book or practicality in preserving a luxury item choice? You decide.

Musical choice:  Piano Sonata in B minor, Liszt.This may sound surprising but I’ve recently started listening to classical music again. I find it is helpful as background and to pick one favorite out was tricky. Lang Lang closed his Waterfront Stage set at Latitude with this, on what was one of the most relaxing and perfect concerts I have ever experienced. Every day is a Sunday lunchtime slot on an island right, so kick back whilst some genius plays piano.  Luxury Item: A lighter/ Magnesium rod if available.
I might have been a boy scout but rubbing sticks in a storm isn't my cup of nettle tea. Technology to the rescue. 

The Desert Island Books today were chosen by Shaun, who is surprised about how much 8 books can reveal about a person.

Thanks for reading, S. 

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