Desert Island Book List

by | Oct 19, 2006 | Brian's Books, General Ruminations, Literature

The books ought to arrive in about two weeks now, and though there are things I could be working on (a short story, the next novel, learning how to run the website) I’ve been reading instead, and being generally lazy.  So lazy that I’m going to punt on today’s entry, and just put down a list of books I’d take to a desert island.  People do tend to ask me what my favorite books are, and in one of the Tom Stoppard plays I’ve just read, there’s a very erudite playwright who in Act I has been invited to talk on the radio about the musical albums he would take to a desert island.  He’s excited but nervous because, snobbishly erudite as he is when it comes to writing, what he likes in music is lovely fluff like ‘Da Doo Ron Ron.’

If I could have twelve novels, they might be the following:

Ulysses, James Joyce

Deutschstunde (The German Lesson), Siegfried Lenz

Tristram Shandy, Laurence Sterne

Ansichten eines Clowns (Opinions of a Clown), Heinrich Böll

The Sun Also Rises, Earnest Hemingway

Berlin Alexanderplatz, Alfred Döblin

Zuleika Dobson, Max Beerbohm

Absalom, Absalom!, William Faulkner

The Spire, William Golding

Die Blendung (Auto-de-Fe), Elias Canetti

A Passage to India, E. M. Forster

Catch-22, Joseph Heller

I’m re-reading Catch-22 just now.  The first time through it I was ten or eleven, and it was an eye-opener in more ways than one.

The prospect of only twelve books, and all novels, makes me awfully nervous, so maybe if I could have a second dozen, from the realms of autobiography and poetry, they might be these:

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein

Wars I Have Seen, Gertrude Stein

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

Goodbye To All That, Robert Graves

Down and Out in Paris and London, George Orwell

Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain

On the Road, Jack Kerouac

Eines Arbeiters Weltreise (A Worker’s World Tour), Fritz Kummer

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson

complete works of Shakespeare

“          “      “  T. S. Eliot

“          “      “  W. B. Yeats

If you have your own list, I’d love to see it.  It’s always interesting to see what people are reading.  And if you send me a list, tell me what you look for in a book.  Why is it that you like to read?