Saturday, September 03, 2011

Three Books for Your Desert Island Trip

Rules of the Game: The trip is of indefinite duration. You can take an empty book and a package of pens to write in. But what three books would you take to read?

None can be the collected works of a writer/s. (No Shakespeare's Plays, for instance)
Single author books only. (No best mysteries of 2009)
And no best short stories of a writer. (No collected Works of John Updike for instance)

What would they be? Would you pick books you know you will like because you have read them already. Books you know you will like from recommendations?

I'd pick three collections of short stories because there is so much to think about in a volume of perhaps 15-20 stories.

Raymond Carver, Cathedral.

Flannery O'Connor, A Good Man is Hard to Find

Alice Munro, Moons of Jupiter

What about you?


Rob Kitchin said...

How long is this trip? Are we talking years on this island? I'm also thinking a big blank book with a never ending pen might be nice! Or one that has generous margins it's possible to jot in with a stick of charcoal. I'll mull the three over and check in later.

Anonymous said...

Patti - What a great question to ask. This is going to take some thinking. Hmm..... I'm pretty sure that one of my choices would be an Agatha Christie collection - perhaps The Tuesday Club Murders or Partners in Crime. Or maybe The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories... or... Oh, I don't know! I'll have to think about this...

Dan_Luft said...


Yeah I know the list is dark but I've had them all on my shelf for over a decade and a desert island is the only way I'm going to read them.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

I should be packing tomes but I'll settle for P.G. Wodehouse (ELMSWORTH or PSMITH), John Irving (THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP or THE HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE), and Salman Rushdie (MIDNIGHT'S CHILDREN). These books won't last long on a desert-island trip of indefinite duration. Am I allowed to send for more? John Steinbeck, Ray Bradbury and Jack Higgins are waiting to come aboard.

Charles Gramlich said...

Peter Matthiessen, The Snow Leopard

Robert E. Howard, The sowers of the Thunder

Tolstoy, War and Peace, because I've never read it

pattinase (abbott) said...

I should put War and Peace on my list but I fear I still wouldn't read it. Love The SNOW LEOPARD and Garp came close to making my list.

TomCat said...

This question feels akin to having to decide who of your parents or friends gets the last spot in the lifeboat, but I managed to pick three very different titles:

Michael Ende's The Never-Ending Story (my all-time favorite novel and can be re-read infinitely), Ellery Queen's 101 Years' Entertainment (never read it, but I need a regular mystery fix to get through the long days) and Douglas Adams' The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide (the complete series in one tome to preserve my sanity during the months/years of isolation as it reminds not to panic and hold on tightly to my towl).

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Blood Meridian-Cormac McCarthy
The Long Goodbye-Raymond Chandler
Tales of the Dying Earth-Jack Vance
3 books that have very little in common with each other except I find them compulsively rereadable.

pattinase (abbott) said...

A weekend guest picked BLOOD MERIDIAN. Too depressing for a desert island for me.
Can't believe I have never read THE NEVER ENDING STORY but the Adams' book is a great choice.

George said...

The First Rumpole Omnibus-John Mortimer
Selected Stories-William Trevor
Selected Stories-Philip K. Dick

Dorte H said...

While you are gone, I´ll sit back here, pondering what to choose.

Hm. I think To Kill a Mockingbird will be the first. Minette Walters´ The Ice House may also have a chance. But the third?

No. Off you go, and I´ll tell you all when you come back. Perhaps.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Be sure to rent the doc. Hey, Boo. Really interesting about here. And we were just talking about THE ICE HOUSE last night. What a great one that was.

Loren Eaton said...

I second A Good Man is Hard to Find and add Gibson's Burning Chrome and Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. Those would keep you busy for a while.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Haven't read Burning Chrome either.

Rob Kitchin said...

At the minute I'm going for

LA Confidential by James Ellroy (or preferably the LA quartet in the omnibus edition)

Mucho Mojo by Joe Lansdale (would be good to have Hap and Leonard along for the ride)

The Pale Criminal by Philip Kerr (or preferably the Berlin Noir omnibus trilogy)

I might swap Kerr for The Ones You Do by Daniel Woodrell (or preferably the Bayou trilogy omnibus edition).

pattinase (abbott) said...

A good list indeed. My favorite Lansdale of the ones I have read is THE BOTTOMS. I like the more recent Woodrell books best although GIVE US A KISS is terrific. Ellroy scares me though. Too powerful.

Mike Dennis said...



3.) MEN AGAINST THE SEA (Nordhoff & Hall)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Ah, just sit back relax and read. Is this world really something you want to be part of?

Anonymous said...

I think some of the commenters have broken the rules with their picks, like George and his omnibus volume, and Lord of the Rings is 3 books all by itself... but that's you're call, Patti.

Right now, knowing this could change at any time:


Todd Mason said...

Yes, Patti, you're more demanding than DESERT ISLAND DISCS, yet also more lax. (And do you mean to suggest that Ellroy is More powerful than Lansdale or O'Connor? I suspect you haven't yet read the right Lansdales or remember O'Connor at her most intense.)

Yes, of course we want to be involved with this world, as it's the only one we have, and is so full of interesting people and books and insane powerful people to mock and attempt to subvert.

Avram Davidson, THE ENQUIRIES OF DOCTOR ESTERHAZY (or THE ADVENTURES, despite the typos and the lesser, later stories added).


Muriel Spark, THE GO-AWAY BIRD (I'm currently reading one of her late novels, which deals with a hypocrisy or three in every sentence of the latest '60s version of this world).

wv: perma...PermaBooks indeed.

Cap'n Bob said...

The Oxford English Dictionary

The Virginian (maybe I'd get past the first ten pages if forced to).

The Junior Woodchuck's Handbook

Deb said...

The problem is, no matter how wonderful a book is, it would be sure to pall after a while with no other reading material. I'd probably try to choose something very long that I've never been able to make it through, like Proust's Remembrance of Things Past (I know it's technically seven books, but other people have chosen omnibus editions)something by David Foster Wallace...but then I'd probably be like poor Burgess Meredith in that Twilight Zone episode where he had all the books in the world to read and then broke his glasses!

pattinase (abbott) said...

Now a dictionary is an interesting choice. Deb, everyone remembers that episode. Or perhaps just we readers do.

Al Tucher said...

I would have to go with one history, one literary novel, and one crime novel. This history would probably be the Civil War. Bruce Catton, maybe? Then David Copperfield, and Raymond Chandler--probably The Long Goodbye.

Of course, as soon as I got to the island, I'd be second-guessing all my choices.

Kent Morgan said...

I think I would take Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps edited by Otto Penzler and The Art of the Personal Essay edited by Phillip Lopate. They all are "big" books and would provide plenty of variety.

Cap'n Bob said...

My next three chocies would be Jackie Collins books. I'd use the paper to start fires.

Thomas Pluck said...

A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Ulysses by James Joyce

Or new reads:
Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles
The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas

pattinase (abbott) said...

LONESOME DOVE is a great choice. And a book of essays would provide a lot to think about. Jackie Collins would make an excellent bonfire.

Anonymous said...

I thought you said no collections - some people missed (or ignored) that. Tough question indeed.

I agree I do not want something like Cormac McCarthy - too depressing. Let's see. I want a big book that will keep me involved.

How about:

James Clavell, Shogun (I see Rick also went there)
Tolstoy, War and Peace (we read it in high school but it was an abridged edition and I've always meant to read it again)
I love Lonesome Dove too but I might go with The Count of Monte Christo as that was one of the first books I discovered for myself at the library that I really loved.

Al Tucher: try Shelby Foote's The Civil War: A Narrative. I loved his contributions to Ken Burns's PBS series.

Jeff M.