Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spotlight List: Books to Bring on a Deserted Island

Spotlight is a feature I do where I pick a topic or theme and then highlight some books that fall into that theme. Here are some previous Spotlight posts:

Classics that are Actually Fun to Read
Sleeping Beauty Retold
More Spotlight posts

Which books would you bring with you if you were going to be trapped on a deserted island?

Pretty much everyone has been exposed to this question at some point. You’ve probably even answered it a few times. There are a few popular ways of answering:

You can be a smarty pants and pick books covering subjects like “How to survive on a deserted island” or “101 Ways to Signal for Help" or " How to Build Yourself a Deserted-Island-Escaping Ship.” These answers make you sound pretty crafty, but they’re kind of just finding a loophole to the question.

You could go another popular route and pick books to make your English teacher swoon and Yale urge you to fill out an application. I’m talking about classics. Books slapped with the moniker “high brow” (I am so not a fan of “browed” labels).  You may throw in a few daunting books (read: books you think are boring) like Ulysses “Because maybe you’ll finally get through them.”

But me? If I’m going to be stuck on a deserted island, I don’t want to be stuck with a book that makes me yearn for a wall to bash my head against and characters I want to strangle. I’m not going to cheat and pick survival books. I’m also not going to pick classics because, well, where’s the fun in that list? There are enough lists for that. (If you want to read about some classics I would sneak aboard my raft, check out the Spotlight post Classics that are Actually Fun to Read). I’m a shy person, but I’m also a person who hates being alone. If I can’t bring actual people (or pets!) to my deserted island, you’d better believe I’m going to bring my book friends.

*A note on this post: As I was linking up the covers, I realized this post is also a massive exercise in "Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover." Seriously, there are some pretty bad covers here, but trust me when I say these books are so beyond awesome.

Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery
Release Date: 1908
Publisher: Various
Pages: 295
Amazon Page
Goodreads Page

Ok, ok, maybe this is a “classic,” but if I’m going to be stuck on an island for an indeterminate amount of time, I’m going to be in serious need of Anne’s vivid imagination and kindred spirit. Her flair for the dramatic would also be useful here. Whatever failures I might have on my island would be turned into adorable Anne mishaps. I might even hope for a mouse to die in my food stores. Well, ok, maybe not literally, but if it did happen, I’d have Anne with me to furiously blush and laugh about the situation. Anne would also be there to remind me that, no matter how wretched my situation, there is also something terribly romantic about the whole windswept scenario.

The Conjurer Princess and The Changeling Prince, by Vivian Vande Velde
Release Date: 1997, 1998
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 229, 290
Author's Page
Goodreads Page: Conjurer Princess
Goodreads Page: Changeling Prince

As I muck about on my island I want to have Lylene’s strong determination and good heart keeping me company. Steadfastly loyal, Lylene showed indomitable spirit as she faced off with an immoral magician, struggled to learn magic, enlisted a team of “rough” men, and infiltrated a castle all to save her sister from her kidnappers. Her spunk and drive would keep me motivated on my island, while her imperfections would keep me from being too hard on myself.

Those two “rough” men, Shile and Wieland, are just as essential to my island company as Lylene. Shile’s kind heart and jolly demeanor never fail to boost my spirits. And Wieland? Oh boy, talk about a cutie. Tall, blond, and badass in a fight, Wieland is the quintessential strong and silent type with a hidden sensitive side and heart of gold. I’ve reread these books more times than I can count, and they’re just as good every time.

Psion and Catspaw, by Joan D. Vinge
Release Date: 1982, 1988
Publisher: Tor
Pages: 368, 416
Goodreads Page: Psion
Goodreads Page: Catspaw 

Have you ever read a book that has ruined you for all other books? There’s something about it that you love so much and you spend the rest of your life desperately trying to recapture that something in every other book you read? For me, Cat is one such character. I’ll read any book that even remotely sounds like it might contain a character like Cat, but so far I’ve never found his equal. Orphaned and homeless, Cat grew up on the tough streets of a future world where mental powers like telepathy exist amidst a corrupt dystopian government. Cat is so completely cool, but underneath his tough exterior he’s such a sweetie just looking for someone to love him.

In the first book he is recruited off the streets, taught how to use his telepathy, and enlisted to help stop a terrorist. He’s an adorable teenager with the skittishness of a feral cat and a chip on his shoulder the size of a planet. The next book sees him somewhat matured, but still adjusting to his new life. He's hired by a wealthy political family to use his powers to identify an assassin targeting one of the family members. This is my favorite book, with a boat load of political intrigue, mystery, and adorable Cat (and one rated R scene). I reread these books almost every year and would have no trouble reading them over and over on my deserted island.


The Harry Potter series, by J. K. Rowling
Release Date: 1997-2007
Books in the series: Seven
Author's Page
Goodreads Page

Do I really need to explain this one? Forget reality, if I’m going to be stuck on a deserted island, I’m so pretending I’m a student at Hogwarts. Maybe I’m just in the Room of Requirement in serious need of a little island vacation? Whatever the scenario, Harry, Ron, and Hermione will be there keeping me company. It would also be a complete comfort to know that Dumbledore is out there keeping watch over me on my island adventure. I already wish (um, pretend) I'm a student at Hogwarts, so give me the solitude of a deserted island and you'd better believe I'm going to go full bore with getting my wizarding on. Accio coconut!

The Night World series, by L. J. Smith
Release Date: 1996-?
Books in the series: Nine published, Ten projected (eight pictured)
Author's Page
Amazon Page

You can read all about my introduction to L. J. Smith's Night World series and my torturous wait for the tenth and final book Strange Fate in my Waiting on Wednesday (5) post. Even if that final book never comes out, I'd still want to take this series with me on a deserted island, if for no other reason than the sheer volume of hot paranormal guys (there are some pretty awesome female characters too).

Really, this is probably the single largest collection of "Oh gosh I wish he were real" guys around. You in the mood for a sexy vampire? You'll get them in droves. How about a melt-your-heart guy next door? Yup, he's here. Tantalizing shape shifter? You got it! Mouth watering warlock? Indeedio. Need me to go on? Because I totally can. Leave me alone on my deserted island with this series and, you know what? I just might not care about getting rescued. 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Which books would you bring with you if you were trapped on a deserted island? I'd love to hear your suggestions.


  1. OMG HARRY POTTER YES. Hahahaha. I could read that over and over again. Fan fiction too, but I can just stick with the Seven Potters. I would also bring all the Outlander books by Diana Gabaldon. That would be a nice deserted island read cause they're all insanely long!!!!

  2. Aw, so good to see the Conjurer Princess mentioned! I've read that one a few times now - Lylene is a very strong protagonist, and the fact that she spends most of the book old before her time makes it even more amazing.

  3. Harry Potter...of course! And Anne of Green Gables! I'd have to add the Vampire Diaries series to my list :)

  4. Definitely Harry Potter! I would want books that are really entertaining and books that would allow my imagination to wander so I wouldn't always be stuck on the island. I would bring J.R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood as well, I might need a little romance on the island:)

  5. Middle-earth books. LOTR. Hobbit. Silmarillion. The History of Middle-earth. All of it!

    And a bunch of classics.

  6. Awesome post! I've never been able to answer these desert island questions, but I'd definitely have to bring Anne along to entertain me. :)

  7. I have only read some of the Potter books.

    I think I would have to void all of this out and just bring my Nook so I wouldn't have to choose *grin*

    I'm trying to get a Morbid Romantica Challenge 2011 off that ground. I think you might be interested. I'm trying to feature it throughout the year with some author involvement. Please do stop by and let me know what you think.

    Mad Scientist

  8. Cialina, Yes, how could I NOT bring HP to a deserted island? :) I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Jamie Frazier, but I have heard wonderful things! They are all really long!

    Danya, oh gosh, you’ve not only *heard* of The Conjurer Princess but you’ve read it and enjoyed it?!! Yes! You are the first person I have ever met who has read the book. You’ve totally made my day! I would usually be pretty skeptical about a character spending most of the book as an old lady, but it really worked and never bothered me.

    Melissa, Ah, you like The Vampire Diaries? Have you read the new books in the series? I’ve read the original four and enjoyed them (though not as much as Night World), but I’ve heard so many mixed things about the new books. I’ve heard they’re pretty different from her older stuff, so I’m a little wary about reading them.

    Jenny, Yes, exactly. I want books I can fantasize about and imagine beyond the pages. I haven’t read Black Dagger Brotherhood, but it sounds good from the title alone. Thanks for mentioning it.

    Moony, Middle Earth is great because it’s like entering an entirely new and fully developed world. Plus, it’s a world with Strider and Boromir. Sign me up! I’d want to bring a bunch of classics too.

    Melissa @ 1br, Thanks! I always over think these kinds of questions. I kept reminding myself not to get all nitpicky about making the perfect list that can never be changed. I had so many books I ended up splitting this spotlight into two posts.

    Mad Scientist, Ha, nice loophole! Thanks for the heads up about your challenge. :)

  9. I hadn't heard of Psion or Catspaw, but they sound really cool. Although maybe I don't want to be ruined. ;) I can't even think of what books I would bring. Well, definitely Watchers by Dean Koontz. It's one of the few books I've read over and over. I'm not usually one to read books many times.

  10. They are SO good. It took me a little while to get used to the jargon (I was also about 14 when I first read them), but once I got a feel for the world I was amazed. There's also a third book, but things don't go so well for Cat in that one and it ended on kind of an open end. The author then got into a car accident and hasn't written for years so the end is still left open and with Cat kind of screwed. So I don't like that last book.

    Watchers is the one with the golden retrievers, right? I haven't read it, but I've heard good things.

  11. Will you be shocked and dismayed to learn that the only books I've read from your list are the Harry Potter books? I know, I'm terrible, especially since I've never read Anne of Green Gables. However, I did love the miniseries! I used to watch it with my sister :o) I'm not sure what books I would take with me to a deserted island. That's a tough one! I do love the Harry Potter books... :oP

    Have you ever read Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde? It's the only one of her books that I've read and I loved it!

  12. Nope, I'm not shocked at all. :) I haven't met many people who have heard of these books. Anne of Green Gables most of heard of (I only read the book a few years ago, so don't feel bad! I grew up watching the miniseries. I love it too!) Of course HP is well known too.

    The others not at all. Night World people have been reading recently, but I'd been praising that one for years and getting blank stares in response :)

    But that's the fun of blogs! Finding new books you'd never heard of before :)

    I have read Companions of the Night. I really enjoyed that one, but it's not my favorite of hers by far. That isn't to say I didn't like it or think it's good, that just goes to show how incredible her other books are. :)


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