Friday, November 05, 2004

Deserted Island of Books

From time to time I like to bother my friends with those deserted island questions. You know the type, you are stranded on a deserted island and can only take X amount of one item or another. Anyways I recently decided on a version involving what books you would take. I thought that would make an interesting blog. First the rules and then my responses. Of course I have already changed some picks from when I posted this to my pals, but it will change again, and again, and again, so I'll just keep the original choices.

The rules: Let's assume their is a bible (your choice of versions) already waiting for you on the island so you don't have to use that as a choice. They can be any type of book: fiction, non fiction, reference, however if you chose an encyclopedia you must choose a concise one, because each book counts as a choice. You may not choose a collected works such as Shakespeare so as to pad your books. Let's assume that the deserted island is in fact paradise so books like "how to build a raft out of bamboo" would not be desired. In the same vein you may choose a cook book or gardening book if you like, but let's also say that food is readily available. So that choice would simply be out of your love for the subject.

My choices off hand, subject to change if i like your choices better.

In no particular order:

1. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. It is both laugh out loud funny, cry your eyes out sad, and get that warm fuzzy feeling kind of a book. it also appeals to me as an 'okie' and because my mother and her family made a similar trip to California in the 50's when there was another desert bowl.

2. To Kill a Mocking Bird by Lee Harper. Like the play, adore the movie,and love the book. I wish I were half the man Atticus Finch is.

3. Red Harvest by Dashielle Hammett. Here's where I wish I could have the collected works of somebody. I love this guy. Tight, tough detective stories. The guy practically invented noir. Most critics declare the Maltese Falcon as his best work, but something about this one just gets me. Although I almost chose the Glass Key over this one.

4. Moby Dick by Herman Melville. I'll still probably skip all of the details of whales short chapters, but the rest is all good.

5. Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkein. I'm cheating against my no collections rule a little bit, but Tolkein wanted it published as one volume originally so that's my excuse.

6. 1984 by George Orwell. To remind me of why I left society for a deserted island in the first place.

7 Angela's Ashes by Frank mcCourt. Sad,funny, poetic.

8. On the Road by Jack Kerouac. Beat generations Bible. Although I might prefer the Dharma Bums better, OTR is more classic.

9. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. In case I get a beautiful island girl pregnant. Amy and I have a pretty big childrens book collection, and it is amazingly difficult to just choose one for the trip, but I absolutely love Dahl and this is one of his better stories.

10. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Well written, great story, and add a little more culture to my selection.

This was amazingly hard. I had to cut down this list several times before I was ready to send.


A special edition: Amy, my wife made a list.

1. Cookbook. She doesnt' have a title, just one with lots of variety, and perhaps some campfire recipies.

2. Organic gardening book. Again a little generic, but she doesn't have a favorite. She says she really does enjoy reading them and well, just likes to garden.

3. Art book. Generic again, something with full color pictures, covers art through the ages and comes with tacks so she can decorate her wall.

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. Hard choice between this and Sense and Sensibility.

5. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. Also difficult choice between this and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Hard to choose just one
childrens book.

6. Beloved by Toni Morrsion. Interesting, thought provoking. Likes the way she writes.

7. Oral History by Lee Smith. Amy wrote her undergrad thesis on this author. She literally could not decide between this book and a short story collection. I've never read any of her stuff, so I made the choice for her.

8. Walden by Henry David Thoreau She'll be going to the woods purposefully, seem like a perfect book for that :)

9. Kamouraska by Anne Hebert. To keep up with her French. Quebecois (from Quebec, Canada) writer, which reminds Amy of her time in Canada.

10. Lais of Marie de France, by Marie de France. Because she's a snooty
French girl. Written in old french and she wants to keep up.

**Amy says she'll probably change her mind about five times.

Looking at her list makes me want to throw some non fiction into my mix. A good history book or reference guide to science or something sounds really interesting. Anyways, make your own lists and post them here.

5 comments:

Foolish Knight said...

These are the product of much painful pruning of my Top Twenty Fiction List. The idea of doing some more pruning to include some nonfiction was to painful to entertain, so they’re all fiction. Here they are (Alphabetical by author’s last name):

1. Something Wicked This Way Comes (Ray Bradbury)
2. Brendan (Fredric Buechner)
3. The Man Who Was Thursday (G. K. Chesterton)
4. Peace Like A River (Leif Enger)
5. The Odyssey (Homer)
6. Perelandra (C. S. Lewis)
7. Till We Have Faces (C. S. Lewis)
8. The Magic Pudding (Norman Lindsay)
9. Cry, the Beloved Country (Alan Paton)
10. The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien)

Painful, as I said. Anyway, I think I was most sorry that I was not able to squeeze anything by Flannery O’Connor. But such sacrifices we must make when being exiled to paradise.

midnitcafe said...

I've actually only read numbers 5 and 10 from this list. So you've provided some good material for future readings. Is Brendan as good as Buechner's Telling Secrets? I know what you mean about trying to squeeze in non fiction. Making just a fiction list was hard enough, and I have already mentally edited my list multiple times. There is just no way to make a top 10 book list encompassing every type of book is there?

These are the product of much painful pruning of my Top Twenty Fiction List. The idea of doing some more pruning to include some nonfiction was to painful to entertain, so they’re all fiction. Here they are (Alphabetical by author’s last name):

1. Something Wicked This Way Comes (Ray Bradbury)
2. Brendan (Fredric Buechner)
3. The Man Who Was Thursday (G. K. Chesterton)
4. Peace Like A River (Leif Enger)
5. The Odyssey (Homer)
6. Perelandra (C. S. Lewis)
7. Till We Have Faces (C. S. Lewis)
8. The Magic Pudding (Norman Lindsay)
9. Cry, the Beloved Country (Alan Paton)
10. The Lord of the Rings (J. R. R. Tolkien)

Painful, as I said. Anyway, I think I was most sorry that I was not able to squeeze anything by Flannery O’Connor. But such sacrifices we must make when being exiled to paradise.

Foolish Knight said...

Brendan is, I believe, either Buechner best or second best book that I’ve read (vying with the Pulitzer Prize nominated Godric for that spot), though I can’t answer your question because I've never read his Telling Secrets. Is it good? Need I ask?

midnitcafe said...

Telling Secrets is excellent. I haven't read anything else by the author, so I am unsure of his style in his other books. However, this particular book is very autobiographical in the heart wrenching, secret diary kind of way. In telling his most inner secrets he brings out a poignancy not usually found in a book. It is also very universal in that though he tells his personal secrets it seems they are secrets we all have. Not that it is heart wrenching in every sentence, in fact it is quite hilarious in many sections

Foolish Knight said...

Personal, humorous. Yep, that sounds like Frederick Buechner’s work. If you ever do read The Man Who Was Thursday, keep an eye out for a conversation concerning the heaviness of a certain character and yet his ability to take off into the air. The conversation might as well be about Frederic Buechner’s books, which seem to be able to, no matter how weighty the subject matter is, bound along with "great laughter" and whimsy. (In fact “Great Laughter” is another book by Buechner)