In Case of Emergency

I was lying in bed the other night wondering what five books I would take with me if I was stranded on a deserted island.  As you do. Of course, this led me to wonder how I ended up on the island.

Was my ship captured by pirates and after I spurned the captain's advances, I was put ashore where I stood gallantly waving farewell with my trunk by my side?  (the trunk has to be there to contain the books.)

Was my ship broken apart on the rocks after a day and night of a storm such as was never known in that latitude before?  I made it ashore by clinging to a spar, washing up half-drowned, possibly with my trunk half-buried in the sand beside me.  (again, the books.)

Maybe I was making a valiant effort to circumnavigate the globe in my own airplane and crash landed on the shore.  I am now using the pieces of the plane to build a shelter and make tools (I am handy that way) but I can't bring myself to burn the books to cook my food.  

Maybe I am a detective investigating a ring of drug smugglers that operate on a cruise line.  Unfortunately they have seen through my disguise and cast me adrift in a lifeboat to perish on the open sea.  Instead I (and my books) after days of agony and near death (for me, not the books. Obviously.) manage to navigate to the island.  Probably by using a compass made from the debris in the bottom of the lifeboat.  

I am leaning toward the airplane story line.  It gives me so much to work with once I am on the island.  Supplies, food, first-aid, fresh water, all of it right there in the airplane.  

I think I might be getting sidetracked here.  So, if I crash land on an island, what books would I not mind rereading?  Oh, and just assume that for some reason I have a handy dandy survival handbook.  That is not one of my five books.  Thinking it over, I think if I was adventurous enough to fly around the world, I would also be smart enough to plan ahead and have survival supplies, including a handbook.  Here are the other books I would have packed in my airplane.

The complete works of Jane Austen.  Is that cheating?  Possibly, but I can make the rules and her works are available in one volume, so there you go.  I can read Jane Austen, flip to the front and start all over again.  She is eminently re-readable. 

Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers.  Because, Peter Wimsey.  I've always been a bit in love with him.  

One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes.  A beautifully written novel about one day in the life of a couple living in a small English village just after WWII.  I have read it several times and wouldn't mind reading it several more. And English village life would be a welcome respite after hacking my way through jungles and catching my dinner with a makeshift hook.  

The Diary of a Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield.  Because it is funny and witty and being stranded on an island isn't all fun and games.  This would cheer me up on even the worst day.

To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.  It is so much I love, references to British literature including and obviously Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, time travel, humor, nonsense.  It bears repeated reading because each time you catch a reference or a joke you missed the time before.  In fact, I want to reread it right now.  And I want to reread Three Men in a Boat.  If I could have a sixth book maybe that would be it.  

Ask me tomorrow and this list would probably be completely different but for right now, there you go.  My list for when stranded on a deserted island. Which on some days doesn't sound too bad.  What would you pick?  


  1. I've always thought that I'd include "The Collected Works of Jane Austen" - since such a book exists - but I would hate reading it in real life. On the same note, I have a collected edition of the Provincial Lady books (all except the Russia one), so you could include that as well (I'd much prefer the individual volumes for actual reading). I might bring The Nine Taylors for Peter Wimsey, and I think I'd have to have some Trollope, and a Dorothy Dunnett book - though I don't know how I'd ever choose just one. I might have to have 10 books on my desert island :)

    1. I have the collected Provincial Lady books too, but it doesn't have the illustrations and that bothers me. I have only read one Dorothy Dunnett book. My library only has the end of the series, I don't know why a library would do that. Maybe I should request them if you put them on your desert island list. I know a lot of people rave about them. I must admit I have been revising my choices in my head ever since I wrote that post. Honestly, if I am stranded on a desert island I want my whole library. What a waste of peace and quiet otherwise!

  2. OK but what if it was the end of world knowledge, as in the movie The Time Machine? What 5 books would you take for a future world that had lost all knowledge? Medical? Agricultural? Engineering? Philosophical? Religious? Historical? Literature? Lucinda

    1. Oh, that is an interesting question. I'll have to think about it. Is it one you have thought about? I would like to know your answer.