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Desert Island Reading List

If you suddenly found yourself marooned on a desert island for an extended period of time, what do you wish you had on hand? What foods would you like? Which creature comforts would you need (sunscreen, a toothbrush, and chapstick are at the top of my list)? And most importantly, what would you read? What is your Desert Island Reading List?

desert island reading list

The idea of a desert island reading list helps you identify which books are so important to you that you’d be willing to read them and only them forever. What do you need to help you stay sane? What is going to make you laugh when you need it the most? And what will bring you comfort and joy? My nine books below fulfill all of the criteria in very different ways.

Desert Island Reading List

  1. The Power Of One. This book blew my mind and made such an impact on my heart when I read it. I even have a chicken named Grandpa Chook after a “character” in The Power of One. While I’m sitting in the shade under a palm tree trying not to give up, this book is the one that will give me the promise of a better tomorrow.
  2. A Star Called Henry. I read this book for an Irish History class I took at Washington State University when I was (maybe) 19. I’ve moved a billion times since then. With all the winnowing down of my books over the years, this one gets packed each and every time. It is the story of a teen growing up during the War of Independence in Ireland. It’s fictional, super (good) weird in parts, but I just adore it.
  3. Pillars of the Earth. So long. So weighty. So good. TWSS. Ken Follett took the subject of a town constructing a church and turned it into one of the most engaging stories I have ever read.
  4. The Bible. Yeah yeah, I know. But if I am looking for comfort, stories, and something that will help me feel connected, this book has it all for me. I’m just going to gloss over the whole “begats” sections of Genesis. I might be on an island by myself but I wholeheartedly do not give two craps who was the father of whom. Zzzzzz.
  5. Me Talk Pretty One Day. Anything by David Sedaris will never fail to make me laugh so hard that I worry about the state of my mascara. I have no idea how I initially picked this book up, but I know that I never want to put it down.
  6. The Poisonwood Bible. My aunt used to be a school librarian and always has the most amazing book recommendations. I grabbed this one off an end table at her house during a Thanksgiving visit and only put it down to eat dinner. And then dessert. Because, priorities. My own tattered copy is well-worn and loved.
  7. Jane Eyre. A classic that I never get tired of reading. I discover something new with each reading and still find myself surprised and touched by this book.
  8. Crashed. This is the first in the Junior Bender series. So clever, so engaging, and the writing is whip-smart.
  9. Matilda. I read this book so many times as a kid and each time I found something amazing and magical about it. I loved it so much that if my (now) toddler son had been a girl, we would have named him Matilda. The curious joy that Roald Dahl brings to readers is a gift to this world.

Some of these titles also appeared in my Gift Guide for Book Lovers because I truly do love them so much. Check that post out for more ideas and some series recommendations.

While all of the links above will take you to Amazon to purchase the book (and I would get a teeny tiny percentage), I strongly encourage everyone to look to their public library first. The library is the best (!) and even if you have to wait a bit, it is usually well worth it. You can also do inter-library loans, ebooks, and audiobooks all for the low, low cost of free ninety-nine. We are hardcore library lovers in the Cook House.

Alright, friends, your turn! What is your Desert Island Reading List? What books will you take with you if you only could read nine for the rest of days?


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13 comments on “Desert Island Reading List”

  1. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
    Sophie’s Choice by Willam Styron
    Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (if I had to pick only 1 I would choose the 5th book)
    A Long way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
    Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
    We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver
    The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
    Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

  2. A dictionary; Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer; the collected works of Langston Hughes; The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems, Complete and Unabridged; The entire Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon; and Ferdinand the Bull.

    There are several books mentioned that are new to me. I will have fun exploring and reading new books.

    • I could only get through the first two books of Outlander. It got so brutal towards the end. I don’t mind violence but torture is a whole different ballgame for me.

  3. I was a Librarian for 10 years so this is incredibly hard!

    Harry Potter
    To Kill a Mockingbird
    A Wrinkle in Time
    Anne of Green Gables
    The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
    Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
    Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCaffrey
    Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

  4. Jane Eyre, definitely.

    The Habit of Being: Collected Letters of Flannery O’Connor.

    The Bible.

    A collected omnibus of P.G. Wodehouse, Jeeves and Wooster only.

    The Rule of St. Benedict.

  5. I have never know anyone who even knew The Power of One! One of my all time favorite books!

  6. Endurance by Alfred Lansing is an older book about the Shackleton expedition. It would remind me that all things are possible and that I CAN get off that island. A more recent read was Freshwater, which I could read over and over again. A brilliant novel; the writing so beautiful I could only read a page or two at a time so as to absorb the lushness of what the author had to say. Thank you for letting me know about A Star Called Henry. I’ll have to track that one down.