Since my post about my favorite short story, I've been thinking about other favorite stories and books. I did write that "The Adventure of the Empty House" is almost uncontested as my favorite, so here's my chance to write about what else is in the contest, so to speak.
I've heard and read in various places that there was a British radio program called "Desert Island Discs." Celebrities would come on and be interviewed about their favorite records -- i.e., what records they'd take to a desert island. (Sounds good as the snow starts to fly -- already!)
When it comes to desert islands, by the way, don't necessarily think of sand. Deserted islands, the more usual recent usage, can have any type of vegetation. (My dictionary gives the definition of desert as a noun -- i.e., apart from the verb for deserting -- as from Middle English and Old French:"deserted, solitary, waste; past participle of to desert or to abandon.") So I count "desert island" as a phrase worth defending.
I am thinking of a variation: What I'd read on a desert island. So here are my "desert island books." Since I'd be going to the desert island on the S.S. Guppy, as small as her name indicates, I am keeping it to ten books:
1. The Bible (King James Version). Essential. Covers all possible emotions (even anger).
2."The Annotated Sherlock Holmes" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, annotations by W.S. Baring-Gould. Not only is it some of the greatest fiction ever, it's big enough to do triple duty as book, doorstop and stepstool.
3. Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. You expected me to stop browsing through it?
4. The Presbyterian Hymnal. I won't risk the cello on the boat, but I must have my music.
5. "Hockey Chicago Style: the History of the Chicago Blackhawks" by Paul R. Greenland. OK, so my inspiration isn't always so high, but this will help -- especially if it's a tropical island.
6. "Prime Time: The Life of Edward R. Murrow" by Alexander Kendrick. That'll take care of history and biography -- and it has the finest last line in any non-fiction I've ever read.
7. "The Light and the Dark" by C.P. Snow. My favorite part in his unjustly neglected novel series, "Strangers and Brothers."
8. "The Masters" by C.P. Snow. My second favorite. (See above.)
9. "Friends, Lovers, Chocolate" by Alexander McCall Smith. A fun, cozy detective story with one of my favorite titles.
For the last pick in my top 10, I stood and stared at my bookshelves in horror. Which one would make the cut? Then I looked down at where I was drafting this list. If I ever go to a desert(ed) island, my tenth book absolutely must be...
10. a thick, blank notebook.
So that's my list. What's yours? Where did I go wrong? Feel free to add your list to the comments -- but remember, the S.S. Guppy is small, so keep it to ten books, please.
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