If you could only take one book to a desert island, which one would you choose, and why?


9 Answers

Lily Bradic Profile
Lily Bradic , Avid reader and literature student, answered

This is pretty difficult - personally, I'd cheat, and bring my Kindle and a charger so I could have a never-ending library of books! Not sure what I'd plug the charger into exactly, though...

Possible Candidates For Desert Island Books

  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde - This is one of my all-time favourite books, so it makes sense that I'd bring it to a desert island with me! I've read it several times, though, so I'd probably get bored of it after a while. However good a book is, you're still likely to get bored of it if you read it over and over!
  • Perfume by Patrick Suskind - Another of my favourite books. Like The Picture of Dorian Gray, you could put it in the category of magical realism, which is probably what you'd want if you were stuck on a desert island. I don't know about you, but I'd certainly want something I could completely absorb myself in and escape into!
  • A brilliant (and large) collection of short stories. This is probably cheating, and I can't think of any in particular, but having multiple narratives as opposed to one single one would stop you getting bored as quickly. Perhaps One Thousand And One Nights would be a good choice!

What I Definitely Would Not Choose

  • Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. The last thing I'd want to read on a desert island is a story about a boring bloke who is also stuck on a desert island. I'm really not a fan of the book in the first place, but I think reading it on a desert island would make me want to bash my brains in with a coconut.
  • The script of any episode of Lost. I found the TV series ridiculous enough, but being stuck on a boring desert island would actually make me jealous of what goes on in that fictional world!

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Kathryn Wright
Kathryn Wright commented
All great suggestions, I've never read Oscar Wilde so I might give Dorian Gray a try. Thanks.
Melinda Moore
Melinda Moore commented
I'd also cheat and go for the Kindle - if there was a power supply on the island. Otherwise, God knows what I'd choose, as there are too many options by far. If pushed, though, I'd probably opt for the same as you - a massive collection of short stories, for variety. Also, short stories are great for giving you a snapshot of a character's life - which I could then build on in my imagination!
Yo Kass Profile
Yo Kass , Reader and writer, answered

I'd have to pick Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. There are several reasons why this would make a great desert island read, with the most poignant being the subject matter of the book.

The only book I'd take to a desert island

Brave New World is a novel set in 2540 AD, and describes a dystopian future where humans are psychologically conditioned and manipulated, and bred into castes.

Although the book's future society has some redeeming qualities (sleep-learning is a thing), overall Huxley portrays a world that is terrifying and totalitarian.

Reading something like this on a desert island would make me feel better about being stranded on an isolated beach, as it offers such a depressing and dim view of society in the future.

Incidentally, Huxley also released a literary response to Brave New World entitled Island, which ties up the desert island theme rather neatly I think!

James Mackay Profile
James Mackay , Science Fiction Geek, answered

It would be between Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" or Frank Herbert's "Dune". Both are science fiction novels, and the first books in their respective series. They follow young boys on their journey to being two powerful young men.

I couldn't put these books down (much to my partners annoyance at the time). They are exciting, and make you feel the pain and emotion that both boys are put through by others in effort to break them or make them stronger.

Dune was released in 1966, winning the Hugo award in 1966 and inaugural Nebula Award for Best Novel. It was later made into a film by David Lynch in 1984.

Ender's Game was released in 1985 and has since been turned into a comic book and film which is due for release in November 2013.

Adila Adila Profile
Adila Adila answered

Are we stranded on this Island or what? Because if we're stranded then I don't think reading a book would really be on my mind...otherwise I'd take the Westlife autobiography and simply because it makes me laugh , and anywhere that is out of my comfort zone I always look for a good laugh. It'd help me think better and put me in a good mood!

On a more serious note another book I'd consider taking is Vladmir Nabokov's 'Lolita' which is about an elderly man in his 50's who falls in love with a young 12 year old girl (who then becomes her step-father) . I love this book because throughout the whole novel he is telling us that he is no sex offender and is actually just in love with a girl ,he breaks through so many different social taboo's in this book it amazes me. The book was critisised and loved by many , in the time it was written it it was seen as offensive but actually the novel is based on love , which is a topic we were covering at school so I read this one for my essay!

Its different. Its a bit vile and disgusting in very creative terms if you understand what I mean but a great book provokes a popular reaction and this book did just that! A must read!

Kathryn Wright Profile
Kathryn Wright , Keen reader and graduate, answered

I would have to take Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Not to be cliche, but this book is fairly simple on first glance, but has everything you need in a story. Most importantly, the story is better when you read it more and realize where Jane Austen has been really dry humored and it's exciting once you know what happens to Elizabeth, and what Darcy's true intentions are to see it all unfolding with that knowledge that he actually loves her the whole time.

The book, even today, raises lots of questions about what is socially acceptable and the strange things that we do to be seen to be successful, so for me, if I was stuck on a desert island, I could pick this book apart and fall in love with Mr. Darcy over and over again.

If you have never read it, you should. The most familiar quote from the book is

"it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a large fortune; must be in want of a wife"

The story explores how all of society is based on this, and tries to challenge it, but she proves this initially ironic theory true. Love it!

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Lily Bradic
Lily Bradic commented
I think I'd take the BBC DVD of Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth playing
Mr Darcy...such a shame desert islands don't tend to have electricity!
Kathryn Wright
Kathryn Wright commented
I second that!
Melinda Moore
Melinda Moore commented
I'd probably opt for Persuasion instead of Pride and Prejudice - if I was taking a Jane Austen novel
. I think it's more subtle, and the main character is more interesting. Have a feeling Persuasion was Austen's own favourite, too. (She'd definitely be on my "list of desert island authors I can't choose between"!)
Dan Banks Profile
Dan Banks answered

For me it would have to be 'Lord of the Flies' by William Golding - despite the irony of reading a book about being marooned on a desert island, whilst on a desert island.

Lord of the Flies

I was first introduced to Lord of the Flies when studying for my English GCSE at school, and ever since then it has always been one of my favourite books.

  • The novel explores various political and sociological themes and presents them in a way which is engaging to the reader, and encourages thought about the nature of society.
  • Lord of the Flies is a story about how a group of school children eventually descend into a life-style of savagery, despite being well educated people.
  • The book questions the role of basic human nature and the 'common good' in society and relays these ideas in the shape of a gripping and emotional plot.

Christian Bell-Young Profile

I would take a journal, because I'd rather write about my experiences on a desert island than just kick back and read.

Miranda Innaimo Profile
Miranda Innaimo , disciple of Christ , answered

I would take the Holy Bible, no doubt about it.  I believe that book is more than bound pages with ink; I believe it is the living word of GOD, a love letter from the Creator of all existence.  I treat it like the bread of life, feeding upon its words and growing stronger in my faith.  I study to show myself approved, a workman that need not be ashamed.  I love my Lord, for I call on His name in times of trouble and he ALWAYS delivers me.  I would take the Bible to an island, because, even if I was alone, I'd never be alone.

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Yo Kass
Yo Kass commented
Great answer! Surprised you were the first to bring the Bible with you - do you think that's a reflection on society these days?
Miranda Innaimo
Miranda Innaimo commented
Indeed, yes.

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