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What’s your desert island book? March 8, 2011

During World Book Day I was asked what would be my desert island book. If I was to be whisked away to a tropical, exotic island without any external contact or communication, for an indefinite amount of time, what book would I take with me?

Books trigger memories for me, each one has a specific place, emotion or atmosphere associated with it that is evoked when I recall the story, or hold a copy in my hand… they have the same effect as music or scents. Each one is precious. (Well, most. I have read some duds with no value whatsoever!). Therefore leaving any behind is almost the same as leaving behind important parts of my life. I moved from Australia to the UK and I brought as many of my books with me as I could. I still mourn the ones I left behind.

I am a huge bibliophile and will devour most things put in front of me. When asked what my all-time favourite book is, I usually list about ten and my Top 10 book list usually has about one hundred books in it. With this in mind, I am sure you can understand how hard I found it to answer this question. I responded based on the idea that I had plenty of time to pack books. Being as my house is groaning from the weight of overloaded bookshelves it took me a little while to come up with books I couldn’t live without.

The list? It goes like this, in no particular order:

1. The Map of Love by Adhaf Soueif
2. Jane Eyre: the Complete Novels – Jane Austen
3. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams (I would try to include all his books)
4. Short History of Nearly Everything – Bill Bryson
5. Baghdad Without a Map – Tony Robinson
6. Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes (added bonus of also referencing 3 of my favourite poets: Keats, Shelley and Wordsworth)
7. Birth of Venus -Sarah Dunant
8. The Dragonrider series – Anne McCaffrey
9. The End of Mr Y – Scarlett Thomas
10. Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Nifenegger
11. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
12. Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
13. Out of Africa- Karen Blixen/ Isak Dinesen
14. Shadow of the Wind- Carlos Ruiz Zafon
15. Lost in a Good Book and all the Thursday Next series- Jasper FForde
16. Blackberry Wine- Joanne Harris
17. The Summer Tree (and the rest of the Fionavar Tapestry series) – Guy Gavriel Kay
18. 1984 – George Orwell
19. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis de Bernieres
20. The Shardlake series – C.J. Sansom
21. I would take my Amazon Kindle – its cheating, and it would only work for a few months with the wi-fi switched off, as that’s how long the battery lasts, (unless I can find a solar powered charger!)… but it means I could have 1000s more books at my disposal…and there are so many, many more!

As you see, I find it difficult to choose just one. I had to stop myself at twenty because it was in danger of becoming a list of every story that ever touched my life, which could end up being a very, very long list. I hadn’t even mentioned my childhood books.

So if I had to try and narrow it down to one? Well, it would have to be something that could keep my interest for a long time, so probably something that would teach me about the world around me, and which I would enjoy re-reading. Maybe something like Brian Cox’s “Why does e=mc2?” or Stephen Hawking’s “Grand Design”; Bill Bryson’s “A Short History of Nearly Everything” could be a contender…Can I narrow it down to one?

I just couldn’t, it’s a horrifying notion.