Which book would you take to a desert island?

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Which book would you take to a desert island?

Imagine you are a castaway. Who knows how long you’ll be on the desert island? If you could take just one book with you, what would it be?

Would you be practical and choose a survival guide that will help you make a comfortable life? Or would you prefer  favourite novel?

Maybe a reference work would be more suitable for you – imagine how much you can learn during your solitary sojourn.

In 1942, a programme began on BBC Radio.It’s still running today.  ‘Castaways’ are invited to choose eight of their favourite pieces of music to take with them, plus one book. Automatically they are supplied with The Complete Works of Shakespeare and the Bible (or religious work of their choice.

What would you choose?

Here are some of the ‘castaways’ over the years, plus their chosen book.

Alfred Hitchcock: Mrs. Beeton’s Household Management
Shirley Bassey: Robinson Crusoe
Bob Hope: Gone With The Wind
David Niven: British Army Survival Manual
Placido Domingo: DonQuixote
Princess Margaret: War and Peace
Antony HopkinsThe Great Gatsby
Richard Branson: Teach Yourself Japanese
Neil Simon: How To Swim
Dustin Hoffman: The Complete Works of Charles Dickens

Encyclopaedias were very popular, as were dictionaries. Some people, it seems to me,were choosing books that made them look good. Various ditzy actresses chose items such as collected works of eighteenth century poetry. As you can see from the list above,some were purely practical.

For me, there’s no doubt which book I’d choose. I’ve read One Hundred Years of Solitude so many times and its like an old friend. I haven’t tired of it since I first read it (which must be well over thirty years ago) so I doubt its appeal would wane on my desert island.

I really can’t see me spending too much time with Shakespeare and his collected works. I’m afraid to say that the Bible probably wouldn’t be read on a regular basis either.

But One Hundred Years of Solitude would keep me happy for a long, long time; it’s stood the test of time already.

True ,there are some choices that would be a little more practical under the circumstances. I’d like to think,probably incorrectly,that I’d be able to muddle along and make myself a shelter, find fresh water and something to eat. I’ve watched the movies.

Which book would you take? And before you ask, there’s no power and no wifi on the island so no fully-loaded Kindles are allowed 🙂




Jackie Jackson, also known online as BritFlorida, is a highly experienced designer and writer. British born and now living in the USA, she specialises in lifestyle issues, design and quirky stories. You can see a wide range of articles here, or visit her website Tastes Magazine. See The Writer’s Door for more information.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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  1. I think (while the entire British Navy and Rescue Service was on its way to find me by order of Her Majesty or off with their heads if they don’t) that I would want something light to read. Nothing heavy. Definitely fiction.

    O.J. Simpson’s ‘My Plan To Find The Real Killers’ would be fine.

    But I understand that it is a very short book, and the Queen’s servants may need a little time to locate me, so I’d take my trusty old copy of ‘Watership Down’ as backup.

  2. A tough one this, but I’d settle for a bumper illustrated book of art masperpieces of the world so I could really take a long slow look at all the paintings.

  3. I do wish we could bring a fiction and a non fiction. And while I would definitely bring the Bible, I’d happily trade Shakespeare for a different series of novels! Ideally I would bring a book that would teach me how to forage for food, build shelter, and so on, but I’m having a hard time deciding between several fiction choices. Not an easy decision, you know1

  4. Too bad about the Kindles… 🙂 It may sound cliche, but I’d take my Bible. In a lifetime, on an island or off, I’d never stop learning from what I’d read on its pages.

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