What I’m Reading (on a Desert Island)

Snowzilla January 2016

Looks peaceful, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, inside, a battle between Henry Danger and the Dance Moms raged.

When you’re trapped indoors as Jonas Snowzilla Blizzard 2016 storms outside, and you find yourself with two kids who decide the best resolution to a disagreement over what to Netflix next is to hold an Ultimate Fighting Championship duel to the death, and when you discover that the only other adult in the house just exploded Bagel Bites in the


The cause of irreconcilable differences.

microwave and pretended he didn’t know there were cheesy bagel guts everywhere–EVERYWHERE!—you may find yourself considering the following:

  1. Suicide.
  2. Divorce.
  3. The ten books you would take to a desert island.

Since I enjoy breathing and also connubial relations, I opted for number three, after discovering the website One Grand. From the site’s About:

One Grand is curated bookstore in which celebrated thinkers, writers, artists, and other creative minds share the ten books they would take to their metaphorical desert island, providing the audience a window into the minds of some of the world’s most engaging people.

While the good people over at One Grand haven’t contacted me for my list, at least, not yet, they have asked Neil Patrick Harris, Lena Dunham, Gloria Steinem, John Waters, John Cameron Mitchell, Tilda Swinton, David Hare, and Terence Koh (and if you’re not familiar with the work of Terence Koh–and I was not, until I encountered him on One Grand–I encourage you  to head over and read his bio and then consider whether your own life has been wasted). In order to prepare for that request whenever it comes (I’m waiting by the phone, One Grand), I decided to think about my own list, and the criteria I’d use for including a book.


Nothing here but us coconuts and the complete, unannotated text of the Mahabharata.

First, I’d only take books I haven’t read yet. I like books as well as Terence Koh the next person, but it’s rare that I’ve read a book and then wanted to read it again. There are a few classics (Little Women, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby) that I’ve enjoyed reading again with my kids as they’ve gotten older, but I’m not looking forward to spending an eternity with Jake Barnes (the protagonist of my favorite novel, The Sun Also Rises) for, perhaps obvious, multiple reasons.

Second, I’d take mostly non-fiction. I’m thinking a few practical titles, like True Tales of Survival Volume XI: Shark Attacks or 101 Uses for Coconutsmight come in handy.

Third, I’d take only really long books. Think Tolstoy (War and Peace clocks in around 600,000 words) or Proust (Remembrance of Things Past, a whopping 1.2M). In fact, I’m thinking it would be best to take these novels in their original languages, just to prolong my misery make them last even longer. Hey, I’m going to have a lot of time on my hands, why not spend it improving myself by learning a foreign language (or two)?

By Sunday morning, Jonas Snowzilla Blizzard 2016 was over, and the allure of some faraway desert isle wore off, replaced by the clean, cold, simple beauty right outside my doorstep. I drove around the neighborhood, surveying the aftermath of the storm, the snow banks as tall as a person on each side of  the street, the snow laden tree branches not quite reaching breaking point, extending over the roadway like a canopy. Since my brain works this way, I thought about how I might die out there, running through the various possibilities in my head. I wouldn’t get the chance to be marooned on a desert island because I would skid into one of these snow banks and never, ever be found, invisible behind the wheel of the new car we’d just bought, my death blamed on my unfortunate choice of color: White Diamond Pearl. The color might as well be called No One Will Ever Find You Avalanche White. I knew I’d regret not choosing Forest Mist Metallic!

Stopped at a light, I looked over into the passenger seat. That’s where I store whatever books I happen to be reading at the moment. It seems like I always have time to kill: waiting for my kids after school or sports, waiting for an appointment that I invariably showed up a half hour before, waiting in a commuter parking lot for a train that’s late, and books have always served me well as traveling companions. Right now, there’s an odd assortment of books in my car: a history of the 1920 Presidential election, a collection of locked room mysteries, and John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, a book I first read over a decade ago, and one that made the trip from the passenger seat of my old car into this new one. I guess if I get stuck in a snowbank, or on a desert isle, at least I’ll have something to read.

I always do.

Royalty free stock photos including an image in this post can be found at freeimages.com. The photo of the view from my backyard (that’s the first photo, not the second. I kinda wish it was the second) is my own.



9 thoughts on “What I’m Reading (on a Desert Island)

    • Karen says:

      Oh, excellent. I had not even considered taking blanks.

      I’ve never read anything by Terry Pratchett (truthfully, I was not at all familiar with his work until he passed away last year and read his obits) and this looks like a good one. I’ll add it to my list.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Allie P. says:

      I was going to say Good Omens as well as it is now the only book I no longer lend to friends as it has never once been returned to me. Never once. I believe I have bought this book at least 5 times now (worth it) and it is going to stay with me forever. I love the idea of bringing a couple of blank books too, but Karen does bring up a good point about the survival guides.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Dylan Hearn says:

    I’m with you on taking a long book but I wouldn’t choose War and Peace as I’ve tried to read it and couldn’t get into it, maybe Infinite Jest. I’d like some non-fiction, either history or biography, as well as something funny (this is where Pratchett would come in).
    Good to see you back in the land of blog, btw. 🙂


    • Karen says:

      While researching (hah!) this post, Infinite Jest did come up as one of the longest books in the English language, and it’s a book that has gone on and off my radar for many years now, I’ve just never pulled the trigger and read it. What did you think of it? I remember reading some posts from another blogger a year ago or so while he was reading it, and I suspect it’s not something I would like.


Comments are closed.