There have been countless versions of the age-old question “What three things would you bring with you to a deserted island?”. The version that I am answering today is the three books that I would select to bring with me. However, before I get to my selections, there are a few items that I would like to cover.
Firstly, there is the matter of my survival on a deserted island. Frankly folks, the odds are not looking good for me, so there may not even be a need for entertainment if I can’t live long enough to enjoy it. I am way more likely to be consumed by a giant snake while attempting to forage for coconuts than I am to successfully maintain a shelter long enough to need a book.
My second quibble is simply a matter of taste: who wants sand between the pages of their books?! I know it’s cute on Instagram when your friend Shelby posts a picture of herself reading The Seven Wives of Evelyn Hugo on the beach, but let’s just consider the number of tiny rocks she will have to pick out of that book later. It only takes one monkey running at light speed across the shifty landscape to cover you and everything you love in SAND.
Lastly, it’s tough to think about what authors I could read possibly multiple times in the course of my stay on this island, provided once again, that I am not devoured by a giant reptile. Can I tolerate these same characters for possibly months or years on end? Ultimately, I believe that I have found three books that will fit my criteria, so if I go missing one day, please postmark the following books to the address 123 Deserted Island Ave. so that even if I’m starving, I can keep myself literate.
For my first pick, I have selected The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde. Oscar Wilde is an author that lives close to my heart, writing some of the Victorian Era’s most controversial yet stunning books and plays. There’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Importance of Being Earnest, and who doesn’t dream of reading Lady Windemere’s Fan on a bed of palm leaves? Listen, is it kind of cheating to pick a book that is just a collection of a lot of other books? Perhaps. But there are no rules to this question, therefore I will pick whatever I want! Plus I have been meaning to do a complete reading of Oscar Wilde’s works and being stranded on an island would give me plenty of time to read everything!
My Second pick is definitely an intimidating one. Weighing in at nearly 1,500 pages, one of the longest books ever written, the work that inspired that sad French musical everyone loves, it is the unabridged copy of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. This choice serves a few purposes while being stuck on an island. Its considerable length will keep me occupied for quite some time, as well as allow me to use the book for self-defense if need be. It’s been a goal of mine to read Hugo’s gigantic masterpiece, and being stuck on an island will allow me all the free time I need to power through. It will also serve as a reminder that, while being stuck on a deserted island might be bad, at least I’m not a sick peasant woman during the French Revolution who’s forced to sell her teeth to send money to support her daughter, so things could be worse.
My last pick is one of my favorite stories of all time. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg is a classic, Southern tale of love, loss, family, and defending the ones you love, especially yourself. It is a story that while sad, I can never get enough of. The relationship forged by Idgie and Ruth is remarkable to read and Flagg really makes you care for her characters. If this book can do anything for me on a deserted island, it can at least remind me that whatever I am going through, I can always yell “TOWANDA!” at the top of my lungs and know that everything will work out somehow.
About The Author: Ben
Ben is the Information Services Programs Coordinator, putting together the adult programs and crafts at Salina Public Library. After falling in love with theatre in high school, he went on to complete a BFA in Theatre with a focus on Stage Management from Emporia State University. He is an avid reader who enjoys Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Plays, Classics, and LGBTQ+ Fiction/Nonfiction. When not at the library, Ben enjoys watching true crime shows and comedies, trying out new recipes, seeing live theatre, crafts/sewing, and spending time with his partner.
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