Saturday, February 23, 2008
One of the ladies in my book group gave us all the assignment to think of the five books we would take with us to a desert island. We’ll assume that a set of scriptures has already washed ashore on the beach. Also assume that you can’t take a book called “How to get off a desert island in 101 easy lessons” (just in case you were going to get clever).
This was an agonizingly difficult assignment. I decided in the end to pick books that I wouldn’t mind reading over and over for the next 20 years or so. Otherwise I might have been tempted just to pick five books with lots and lots of pages for their, shall we say, personal hygiene potential.
Here are the five books I came up with:
1. Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but I think this book should be required reading for the whole human race. So there.
2. Final Harvest: Emily Dickinson’s Poems
If I’m going to be stuck on an island, I want something inexhaustible in terms of truth and beauty. Dickinson’s poems supply both. Plus maybe after a couple of decades of focused study, I’ll finally be able to understand all of them.
3. “The Death of Ivan Ilyitch” by Leo Tolstoy
This is either a long short story or a short novel. I’ve already read it dozens of times but it still moves me as only a story about a man who realizes in his last hours that his life has been utterly meaningless can. It’s an inspiring cautionary tale.
4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
This is a relatively new love of mine. I’ve taught it in my Humanities classes for two years now and I’m always amazed at the wide variety of discussions it sparks each time. This would be a perfect book if I were stranded on an island along with a bunch of other people who also took Frankenstein with them. Or maybe I’ll just start talking to myself about it in my own personal one-woman book group. Or I could find a literate volleyball to befriend or something.
5. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
Everyone needs a book to turn to for sheer entertainment purposes. If I get too depressed about being far away from all my loved ones and the land of Twix bars, this book would soon have me ROSL (Rolling on the Sand Laughing).
There. I can’t say it’s a perfect list but it will do for now.
I’m curious. What 5 books (or even one or two for starters) would you take with you?
Posted by Julie Q. at 5:54 PM