Which One Book On A Desert Island?

James Joyce, when asked this question, replied, “I would like to answer Dante, but I would have to take the Englishman, because he is richer.”

For me, and I am excluding the Hebrew Bible—not because I wouldn’t want it, but because I would like to see diversity in our choices—it would be Montaigne’s Essays.

And so for you, oh castaway, Which One Book On A Desert Island?

45 Responses to “Which One Book On A Desert Island?”

  1. Jonathan Jones October 21, 2010 at 09:19

    As you probably know Chesterton’s answer to this question was “Thomas’ Guide to Practical Shipbuilding.” Apparently his real answer was Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. Has anyone read that one?

  2. Pickwick is one of the funniest books ever. That’s an excellent choice. I guess I would say Paradise Lost, but it’s not all that funny. Maybe Dante…I’ve never read it, but I’d have plenty of time to get around to it if I was on a desert island.

  3. @Kyle Reed,

    Definitely did not mean to put that in there. sorry.

    My real answer would be a bit cliche but honest. I would go with lewis mere christianity. I could read that book for years

  4. now that I see it is a desert island I might take Nouwens The Way of the Heart

  5. I would take Mere Christianity. Everytime I read it I get something new out of it.

  6. I would take my Kindle – I need a desert island or a minimum of 6 months being snowed in somewhere with no wifi (or WhisperNet).

  7. Gee, you are all picking incredible works of literature, of which I really haven’t read any (unless reading the first few pages of the introduction to Mere Christianity and thinking, “Crap, this is over my head!” counts)

    So since I haven’t read any of those, what I would take is Sacred Romance by Brent Curtis and John Eldridge. Mainly because that book changed my perspective of God’s love for me, thus changing my life.

    Although I like what I’ve heard about Nouwen, so I may have to pick up one of his books.

  8. I’ve been pondering this for the lasr several hours. Would it be one of the great ancient scribes Plato or Plotinus? Then I jumped to Milton and Dickens, next I thought about Dostoevsky;s Crime and Punishment, the life of inward spiritual pain and of course contemplated C. S. Lewis…I moved onto Merton’s brilliant Seven Storey Mountain and even considered Dr Zhivago.

    But hands down my choice would be Joyce. His own life may not be a great model but he is possibly the greatest novelist of the last several centuries.

  9. Since you’ve “banned” the Hebrew Bible (smirk)…I grab ORBITING THE GIANT HAIRBALL (Gordon MacKEnzie) or WALKING ON WATER (Madeleine L’Engle)—I’ve read both several times all the way through and am still learning and being inspired by them.

  10. jc what you mean by Hebrew Bible…to me that means just the 39 books also known as the Old Testament to Christians (maybe better called the First Covenant…). Not the (written-in-)Greek Bible?

  11. hmmm my answer would change day to day….for now my book of choice would be Gone with the Wind …. mind you I’ve just read Blue Like Jazz for the second time,…I reckon I could read that several more times and still feel the freedom it speaks……….jsut one book? seriously? hmmm

  12. Randy, everything in me wants to say The Complete Calvin & Hobbes. Life on a desert island would be way too serious. And this is coming from a Literature major!

    My being-a-good-sport answer would be Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums. I’ve read it so many times over many years that it’s like listening to old songs from our youth and the feelings they bring back.

    • @Keith Jennings, Ha! Okay. I don’t know the Dharma Bums. I must get it also. Wow. This has given me a lot of exciting reading!! thanks. Love, love, love Calvin & Hobbes.

  13. Eudora Welty’s book of short stories

  14. The Little Prince.

  15. Unabridged Count of Monte Cristo. But I’d want it in French so I could kill two birds with one stone… never read it unabridged (though I’ve read a lengthy version) and I really want to learn French. I’m guessing the solitude and absence of internet would afford me the time to do both.

  16. The one book I’d take is the complete works of Sherlock Holmes,

  17. True true on the Complete Calvin and Hobbes. Excellent choice. Since that is taken I would offer The Brothers K by David James Duncan. Will be reading that one once every few years until I die.

  18. i would have to say my copy of The Complete Works of e.e. cummings.

    or any compendium of poetry. My second choice would be The Complete Works of William Shakespeare

    • @Chuck Harris, Very nice, Sir Chuck. I need to check out e.e. cummings!

      • @Randy Elrod, i’ll bring my book of poems in February, but until then.

        i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
        my heart)
        i am never without it(anywhere
        i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
        by only me is your doing,my darling)
        i fear not fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)
        i want no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
        and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
        and whatever a sun will always sing is you

        here is the deepest secret nobody knows
        (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
        and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
        higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
        and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

        i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

  19. Randy, did you know there is a long running programme on BBC Radio 4 in Britain called Desert Island Discs? The scenario is that a celebrity is washed up on a desert island, and along with the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare, they are interviewed about the twelve pieces of music they would take to play on the gramophone, and which one book they would take to read. It was a staple of my childhood listening, but I’ve never been able to answer the question for myself.

  20. I’m torn between “The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus” by Brennan Manning, which literally life changing, and “Jane Erye,” because I’m a hopeless romantic.

Created by Randy Elrod

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