As a kid, one of my favourite radio programmes was Desert Island Discs, a BBC Radio 4 production that has been running since 1942. The basic format is that a well-known guest is invited onto the show and asked to imagine that they will be stranded for an indefinite period on a desert island with 8 pieces of music, one book of their choice, The Complete Works of Shakespeare, the Bible or other relevant religious/philosophical work and one luxury item which must be inanimate and of no use to escaping from the island. In between explaining their music choices, the guests talk about their lives and since this programme is basically an institution, they've had just about everyone you can think of on there. Imagine my delight, then, when I found out that I could subscribe to the podcasts of current episodes AND access the archives all the way back to 1998.
Which got me thinking - how about the literary version? What if instead of music you had to choose books to take with you?
Book choice one: Malory Towers by Enid Blyton
Book choice two: Adrienne Rich's Poetry and Prose (selected and edited by Barbara Charlesworth Gelpi and Albert Gelpi)
I'd always been one of those 'girls can do anything' kids and when I got to university and started studying for my Bachelor of Arts, I was exposed to a wealth of ideas about feminism. When I continued on to study Literature papers in my Grad Dip Arts (to make up for the fact that, oddly, I did no undergrad Lit papers in my BA) the interest continued and grew and I focused a lot on the literature of women. This book was a required text for one of my papers and one I really enjoyed for the fact that you could dip in and out of it and it always gave you something to think about. I know that if I'm going to be alone with nothing but trees to talk to for an indefinite period of time, I'll need something to keep me thinking to stave off the insanity!
Book choice three: Selected Poems of Anne Sexton (edited with intro from Diane Wood Middlebrook and Diana Hume George)
Expanding on the point above, this book was also a required text. Sexton's poetry isn't exactly of the uplifting variety so it's more likely that I'll be reading it on the beach in the day time rather than by the camp fire at night but it's got a lot to it so will give me something to think about.
Book choice four: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Some books you can read and read and they never get old. For me, Wuthering Heights is one of those books and it's not because I wish that I could have a dark and moody lover named Heathcliff brooding over me. The main reason I love this book is the atmosphere, the stormy Yorkshire moors, the old stone houses and the creaking gates in the wind... *shiver*. Absolutely fantastic!
Book choice five: The Last Empress: Madame Chiang Kai-Shek and the birth of Modern China by Emma Pakula.
I'm noticing that a lot of my choices are non-fiction and/or educational. This one is all about the wife of Chiang Kai-Shek, the first President of the Republic of China (Taiwan). Apparently she was something of a power-house and by all accounts, one helluva interesting lady so I thought why not take the time to learn something about the history and formation of my husband's country of origin from the perspective of one of the most powerful women at that time.
|Gribbin Head Lighthouse|
Image credit: Wild About Britain
Growing up on the rugged and beautiful coastline of Cornwall means I have salt water running through my veins. I never feel more alive than when I'm standing on a cliff top, looking out over the ocean, preferably with a good strong breeze blowing through my hair. As a result, when I moved away from the Cornish coast to the more sedate (but still beautiful) coastline of Auckland, I became a little obsessed with lighthouses. My old office at Massey University was plastered with pictures of lighthouses, and since I worked in a Psych department there were of course more than a few Freudian explanations offered for this love of mine! Nothing Freudian about it, honest. I just find them evocative and beautiful and they remind me of romping along the cliff paths in St. Austell Bay towards Gribbin Head.
Book choice seven: The Consolations of Philosophy by Alain de Botton
This book was recommended to me by a friend but I haven't read it yet. I figure that if there is ever a time I will need to be consoled, it'll be when I'm stuck on a desert island.
Book choice eight: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
My father read this to my younger brother and I when we were kids. I loved the book, I loved the movies and it's a massive book which means it will keep me occupied for a while. There's nothing like a bit of Mordor to distract from the fact you're stranded, right?
Luxury item: Unlimited supply of writing supplies.
What would some of your Desert Island book choices be? Luxury item?