You, a Deserted Island, and Three Books

What would you choose?

It’s not a new question, but always a fun one to answer. Fun in an agonizing sort of way if you have as many favourites as I do. I was recently more entertained by the answers of others in a group post, however.

If the answer given is honest and thoughtful, it says a lot about the person giving it. Some people will list books that supposedly raise their IQ by ten to twenty points. Others will list books they’re supposed to have read and enjoyed. They’re going to hate themselves when they’re trapped in solitude with those three literary gems. One of the answers simply stated: The Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Staring at those six words, I vacillated between amusement and horror. I also wondered if I’d read the books if I was trapped on an island with them. I probably would? In fact, it might be the ONLY way I’d ever be enticed to read them.

The more pragmatic folks listed how-to manuals covering subjects broad: How to Survive Being Stranded a Deserted Isle—to specific: How to Build a Raft out of Sand, Spit and Fifty Shades of Grey.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy featured in a lot of answers. I determined this choice represented wishful thinking. That being stranded on a deserted island would end up being a metaphor or something, and a door would open on the beach, invite the strandee to step through and then thank them for doing so.

Many listed the books of Robert Jordan and R.A. Salvatore. I listed one of Salvatore’s too. But I hesitated over that one because the ‘Legend of Drizzt’ is long and wonderful and could I survive with only one of those books, and if so, which one? I imagine the same would be true of the ‘Wheel of Time’ books. Of course, you might die of exposure before you made it through the prologue of one of those, though.

A lot of SF greats made it on to the list. I didn’t find this odd. The group is for geeks, after all. But there was a smattering of philosophy and a few considered classics as well. There were books I hated, that I’d rather live without, but again, if I had nothing better to do…

So what did I choose? I didn’t spend too long deliberating. I’ve a couple of deadlines looming, so I didn’t have time to take my favourites (hundreds) and whittle them down a few times using a scoring system and a spreadsheet. So, I chose three books that I’d like to read again, that I didn’t think I’d mind reading over and over, if I lived long enough to do so.

Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein

I’ve been afraid to reread this one as I’m not sure it will live up to the experience of reading it as a naïve twenty-year-old. What better time than when I’m facing death by sunburn and rabid sea monsters?

The Ghost King, R.A. Salvatore

I wavered between this one and The Companions. Honestly, I think I’d be content with any of his books, but those two were the books I felt really showcased Salvatore’s love of his characters and world, and his dedication to them.

Earth Abides, George R. Stewart

Holds the distinction of being one of the maybe five books I have actually read more than once, and would consider reading again. Also, it’s my stand in for a survival manual. Or the more moral than practical variety. I’ll start my new society by gathering the seagulls and taming them.

..

Which three books would you choose?

4 thoughts on “You, a Deserted Island, and Three Books

  1. Nicole Luiken April 22, 2015 / 3:42 pm

    I saw a panel on this topic at a When Words Collide convention. Each panelist argued for a certain book and the audience voted at the end. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon won as we figured we had the best of both worlds with historical/time travel/romance AND a fair bit of herb lore that might help us survive.

    • Kelly Jensen April 22, 2015 / 3:44 pm

      Okay, I love the idea of that panel. Also, I love the choice. Outlander is a wonderfully long and absorbing book too!

  2. Christine Maria Rose April 22, 2015 / 4:50 pm

    My 3 books would be the Bible (complete with deuterocanonicals and apocrypha as I’m Catholic); Outlander definitely and the 3rd is the hard one! I like Hitchhiker’s so that would definitely be a good choice. And I love the Wheel of Time series but it would be hard to narrow it down to only one of the series. Aah, I know – Bill Bryson’s A Short History Of Nearly Everything – I’d never get tired of reading that!

    • Kelly Jensen April 22, 2015 / 4:57 pm

      A lot of people in the group post listed the bible and I briefly considered it. I haven’t read all of it.

      I love Bill Bryson. Any of his books would be a great choice, I think. 🙂

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