When I was twelve years old, I won a Desert Island Disks contest on the radio. They picked my letter out of the stack (I deliberately used some garish stationary) and played my five favorite songs on the radio. The prize? Tickets to see Los Lobos at a time I couldn’t go. Oh, well. It was a thrill to be picked. As to what songs were on the list, I believe there was something by Eric Clapton and Fleetwood Mac and probably a song by Cat Stevens… And I probably had a hard time picking just five songs.
I’ve always hated having to decide on one book that I would want to read over and over again while waiting to spot a boat on the horizon. I want all of them! Or I want lots of new books that I’ll come to love. But how impossible is that to write down when you’re making a list?
I love to read a new book that really sticks with me. I turn it over and over in my mind, quote from it at parties, and think about it again and again. OUTLIERS by Malcolm Gladwell and TRAFFIC by Tom Vanderbilt were like that for me this year.
But I also have my favorites that I return to again and again. I reread PRIDE AND PREJUDICE at least once a year. I like to dip back into GREENGAGE SUMMER by Rumer Godden, and revisit Agatha Christie classics (THE SECRET OF CHIMNEYS and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS). I enjoy reading Georgette Heyer again—the regency world feels so comforting–as well as C.S. Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Frances Hodgson Burnett. And I challenge myself to read a classic every once in awhile—something I meant to read but never got around to.
But what would I bring to a desert island? This is always a difficult question for me to imagine, because after all, how much packing do you get to do before you’re marooned somewhere? But, if possible, I’d like a little bit of everything if you please. Something old, something new, some mysteries, some classics, some YA, some non-fiction, some meaty fiction, and some light and wonderful summer reading. And lots of blank paper and pens, too (so I can perhaps send Lydia McKenzie to a desert island, too). Just please don’t let me be stranded anywhere without reading material, though! I wouldn’t be able to stand it for long. And I’d probably end up talking to a volleyball or something.