Books…for the island (or: what to post when there’s nothing else to talk about)

October 23, 2007

The moon is distant from the sea,
And yet with amber hands
She leads him, docile as a boy,
Along appointed sands.

This list, I think, changes every so often, but if we remove obvious, fanciful titles like 101 Ways To Get Off A Deserted Island and Shipbuilding Without Tools, here are ten books I would make sure were with me on a deserted island. Or somewhere near my bug-out bag when the next disaster is imminent. These are in no particular order, and the choices obviously presume that I have a great deal of time on my hands.

  • The Bible (duh)
  • The Histories, Herodotus
  • The Metamorphoses, Ovid (Mandelbaum, trans.)
  • The Iliad and The Odyssey (cheating?), Homer
  • The Riverside Chaucer
  • The Riverside Shakespeare
  • The Life of Samuel Johnson, Boswell
  • The Meditations, M. Aurelius
  • The Everlasting Man, Chesterton
  • Don Quixote, Cervantes
  • The Divine Comedy, Dante (Esolen, trans.)*

What puts me in mind of this sort of listing is an announcement from Amazon of the imminent release of The Landmark Herodotus. I bought (and read awhile back) The Landmark Thucydides, and if you have even the slightest interest in the Peloponnesian War (Athens v. Sparta), this is the one to read. Maps, marginalia, footnotes, it has the full monty. Nevertheless, I found myself a little bogged down with Thucydides after awhile. Not so with Herodotus. You could pick one out of any number of events described therein and craft a full length novel out of it. Great stuff, and the advent of a Landmark version…so close to the holidays. Well. Some things ought to go without saying.

As it stands, however, the only disaster likely to face this part of the country is drought and it’s not likely that we’ll need to suddenly flee in the face of it. It’s probably just as well.

* – Cheating, as it’s 3 physical books. This is my list. Deal.

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2 Responses to “Books…for the island (or: what to post when there’s nothing else to talk about)”

  1. josephmcbee Says:

    I was once read a MFA candidate who said that no one has ever actually read Don Quixote, they are always “reading” Don Quixote. That being said, that one would be on my list as well.

  2. josephmcbee Says:

    Inspired by your post, I created a list of my own over at my blog.


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