Of course, the Bible and a handy collection of survival books are a given. And the books I’m selecting aren’t necessarily my favourite books of all time. I love Perelandra, for example, but reading about the Un-Man perusing Ransom through the caves of an almost-deserted island, while marooned on an island myself, would be far from ideal. I’m also looking for books that can bear the weight of repeated re-reads, and even offer new insights with such re-reads.
Anyway, here goes.
- Reformed Dogmatics by Herman Bavinck (the abridged one-volume version). I began trying to read this, but gave up. However, I know it’s good, and if I were stuck on a desert island I’d want to be able to do some in-depth theological reading. And since there’d be so little else for me to be distracted by, I know that I’d actually finish it.
- The Collected Poems of C. S. Lewis (edited by Don King). This is my favourite collection of poems. There’s beauty and wisdom and joy and wit and Lewis-ness in here, and I wouldn’t want to be without it.
- The Book of Common Prayer. I’d want to have words to pray for the times when I had no words of my own, and to be reminded that even in my lonely state, I was part of the church universal.
- Gilead by Marilyn Robinson. This one would help to remind me of the loveliness of life.
- Emma by Jane Austen. Because if I only have one Austen book, let it be a long one.
- Augustine’s Confessions. I haven’t read past the opening few pages, at most, but as with Reformed Dogmatics, I know that it’s worth reading. And re-reading.
- The Oxford Book of English Verse. I own The New Oxford Book of English Verse, but I have more than half a suspicion that this one would be the better of the two. There’s be plenty for me to enjoy here, and plenty for me to study. Memorising poems would also help to pass the time.
- The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis (volume II or III). I haven’t got far yet in reading these myself, but I’d choose a volume because it’s massive, so I’d get much more of Lewis’ prose than I would were I to choose a single book. Lewis was an excellent letter writer, so there’d be much for me to learn and delight in here.
- A Handbook to Literature (Harmon and Holman). I’d use this to help me study the poetry I’d brought, as well as to help me write my own.
- The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. Yes, I know this isn’t exactly (ahem) a single book, but in my defence it’s a series, each book is short, and—and—how could I possibly live the rest of my life, perhaps, without having the opportunity to read Narnia again?
What would your desert island book list be?