Marooned on a desert island -what books to take?If you were marooned on a desert island for an indefinite time, maybe years, and could have only ten books with you, which ten books would you choose?

Expert Answers
William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I’m about ready to head for my deserted tropical island, and I appreciate the good advice in the above answers. It makes sense to take big books.  I would want an enormous anthology of poetry and another one of prose. My island will, of course, be a tropical paradise, not like that cold, bleak one in the movie Castaway. I would need one book on how to survive on a deserted island, but part of the fun would be learning to catch fish, build fires, cook, and steal seagulls’ eggs. Like litteacher8, who offered answer #2, I know enough about French to read it with considerable difficulty and a good French-English dictionary. My choice of a book in French would be Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way. (Naturally I wouldn’t expect to be allowed to bring the whole of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, unless I left all the other books behind; and it would seem pretty weird to be sitting reading Proust on a deserted island for ten or twenty years.) As long as I’m taking the French-English dictionary, I might as well bring the biggest volume of French poetry I can find. There used to be a lot of big books I wouldn’t want to be without, including War and Peace—but recently after reading it for the third time, I decided I was never going to read it again. Of all the novels I have loved, I think the only one I might bring would be William Faulkner’s Light in August. litteacher8 mentioned that she would bring a copy of Hamlet, but why not bring an edition of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, complete with all the explanatory material I have never had time to read? That still leaves me two books to choose.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wow!  They would have to be lengthy, deep books.  I would also want books I love, comfort books.  I would choose the following.

1. Great Expectations- One of my favorites.  I would like these characters to keep me company!

2. Lord of the Rings (my copy has all three books)- I have read this book a few times, and it's about 1000 pages so it'll keep me busy.

3. Ulysseys- I feel like this book needs more time!

4. Hamlet-  Another favorite.  I'll let the language wash over me and make me feel better!

5. Some kind of guide to surviving on an island.

6. A cookbook featuring island cuisine.

7. A boat-builiding book.  (I know nothing about boats!)

8. The Count of Monte Cristo, unabridged, in French.  What better way to learn the language!

9.  A French dictionary. (To read the above, since I don't speak a word of French!)

10.  Lots of paper and pens so I can write my own books!

That should keep me busy for a long, long time.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rereading books would probably be high on my list, along with coverning some never-read-but-want-to choices. Survival guides would also be important! So, my list would include The Bible, a good comparative commentary and exploration of the Christian faith, The Complete Works of Mark Twain, The Once and Future King, a handbook to plant identification, a cookbook for using found plants and animals, a guide to using found materials to construct shelter and tools and transportation possibilities, a manual for interpreting weather and clouds and so forth, a good first aid guide, and a complete history of the known world. If I also had pen and paper, I could add another chapter to chronicle my adventures in my little island part of the world!


tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would definitely have my scriptures with me, first and foremost, but after that I'd take all of my Norton Anthologies: American Lit., British Lit., Shakespeare, Medieval Lit., The Divine Comedy, The works of Chaucer, The Count of Monte Cristo (English), and the three compilations of my mother's and father's family history that my Mom put together. I'd need to remember where I came from to keep my sanity, too, not just be entertained and self-indulgent by great works of art.  Those family books have pictures of my ancestry and of current members of the family.  That would keep me wanting to survive--to see them again.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'd have to add a few of my favorites so I could reread them: Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Douglas Southall Freeman's Lee's Lieutenants, Ezra Warner's Generals in Gray and Generals in Blue, Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, and volumes of short stories by Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemingway. I'd also bring several novels I've (unfortunately) never read, particularly Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness and Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think I would want more practical books than entertainment novels.  Since I am not that adept in the wild, I would probably want some books on survival.  A book on edible plants of the region would be helpful.  A book on hunting would be necessary.  Perhaps a book on building things like shelter and/or boats.  It might be nice to have a book on alternative medicine.  Surely I would be sick or injured in many years stranded on an island.  

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would bring BIG books like The Complete Works of Chaucer and The Complete Works of Shakespeare. I would bring a couple big, meaty novels like War and Peace or Crime and Punishment. I would bring at least one book that makes me feel good, like To Kill a Mockingbird. I would want something that makes me laugh like Pride and Prejudice or Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I would bring Leaves of Grass; The Sound and the Fury; Absalom, Absalom!; All the King's Men, Wallace Stevens collected works (The Palm at the End of the Mind); Garden of Eden(Hemingway); Heart of Darkness; T. S. Eliot's collected poems; and a couple of notebooks(!). 
These are all books I've read before. I don't think I'd take a chance on an untested work. 

1) 1984 - still reading it

2) Tuesdays with Morrie - still reading it

3) How to Survive on an Island For Dummies

4) How to Cook for Dummies

5) How to Build a House for Dummies

6) Great Expectations (always wanted to read this)

7) Edible Organisms Found on an Island you are Marooned on For Dummies

8) A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (always wanted to read this)

9) Smoke Signals For Dummies

10) The Hunger Games Trilogy (Always wanted to Read this)




































































































pbjessop | Student

OK: so let's consider some balance when preparing for a long stay on an island (desert island is one of the great oxymorons of English. I am taking it to mean "desserted island")  

1. The Blind Assassin, Margaret Atwood

2. The Polished Hoe, Austin Clarke

3. Half Blood Blues,  Esi Edugyan

4. The English Patient,  Michael Ondaatje

5. Bury Your Dead, Louise Penney

6. No Great Mischief,  Alistair MacLeod

7. The Golden Mean,  Isabel Lyon

8. Bleak House, Charles Dickens

9. Who Do You Think You Are, Alice Munro

10.Sailing Around the Moon, Billie Collins

Imagine only have the voice of a single gender in your head for years and years. That would make you crazy long before the heat, the sun or starvation.

Remember:always ALWAYS ask 'where are the women?'

Happy reading