Marooned with Lots to Read by Deb Meredith

posedformurderWhen 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.

13 thoughts on “Marooned with Lots to Read by Deb Meredith

  1. I’ve recently been reminded that An Instance of the Fingerpost is an amazing read. And it’s a very, very long book, so I could while away the years rereading it.

  2. That’s a good strategy, GM–picking out something extra long. I really hate running out of reading material. Perhaps my choices are a little too short–WAR AND PEACE anyone?

  3. I’ve been wanting to read OUTLIERS myself…

    I like how you’d pick books of all genres. I’m the same way. When people ask me what I like to read, I always tell them my reading is all over the map.

  4. Infinite Jest. No matter how long you’re there, you can always find something new in it’s 1000+ pages. But you’d need to get stranded with a dictionary too.

    I think my strategy would be to bring all the books I don’t have time to read. Like The Crying of Lot 49.

    And what about short story collections? I think you’d want something you could bite off in bits, no? Like in the time between rubbing sticks together and hitting a bird over the head with a coconut.

    I’m checking out Fingerpost. I love long books….

  5. Sounds like a good strategy. I would need a really big trunk for all the books I’ve been meaning to read but haven’t yet found the time… Like Life of Pi (sorry Katie!), The Kite Runner, and A Confederacy of Dunces.

  6. My favorite Agatha Christies are A Murderous Affair at Styles and the incomparable The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

    My volume of short stories would be Devls & Demons edited by Marvin Kaye.

  7. If I was stranded I’d really like to be stranded with Charles Dickens’ DAVID COPPERFIELD. I have it on my bookshelf and I’ve wanted to read it for years, but I’ve still yet to make time for it. I love Dickens!

    I could also haul along THE GIVEN DAY (Dennis Lehane), another long book that I haven’t gotten to yet.

    Like you, Meredith, I’ve re-read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE many times, as well as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST. It seems like no matter how many times I read them, I still find new things I didn’t notice before. I wouldn’t mind re-reading a few of my Pat Conroy novels either.

  8. I’ve got two short story collection suggestions: any collection by Andre Dubus (the father). His short stories are the absolute best. He wrote my favorite quote ever, about a man going on a blind date with the woman who’d be his wife and when she opens the door, his description of her is “what it would be like to look at the sun without burning your eyes.” Something like that. Another one of my favorites and completely different in tone is Jennifer Egan’s “Emerald City.” Oh and short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald will take you to another world entirely. I’ve read “A Diamond as big as the Ritz” maybe 1,000 times and still love it, love it, love it.

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  10. I love reading everyone’s lists. One of my childhood favorites was Brenda Knight Graham’s ‘Stone Gables’. I was also a huge Phyllis Whitney fan, with ‘Stone Bull’ being one of my all-time favorites. Both books I could read again and again. It may sound geekish, but I must admit that I love Shakespeare, and own his collected works, which would keep me busy for quite some time. Oh, and Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings is another must-have. Herbert’s Dune series and McCaffrey’s Dragonriders series (with all the companion books, of course are other childhood favorites I would definitely enjoy revisiting. And then there’s my to-be-read list, which is quite lengthy. Hmmmm, methinks I would have a tough time choosing!

    How about a Kindle with an entire library loaded? Better be able to recharge the batteries!

  11. What great suggestions! My TBR pile in the sand is growing… I just hope I can convince some of you to row over to my island and replenish my book supply when I run out.

  12. Kenna- I like the idea of a Kindle filled with everything. I guess I’d need a large number of batteries, though!

  13. If I were stranded anywhere without something to read and my reading glasses…life would not be worth living.

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