As you know, I’ve been listening to a lot of Desert Island Discs recently (today: Beryl Bainbridge, who is bizarre in hers, and Joan Plowright’s second recording) – and, of course, that got me thinking about Desert Island Books. I could put together a list of eight records (and I might still do that) but, unlike many of you, I am not an adept appreciator of music. I would certainly swap any number of records for an extra book, on my desert island.
|I stole this sketch from a 2007 post…|
I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for so long without doing one of these properly. Which probably means that I’ve made my list and forgotten about it, doesn’t it? But, following the same rules, I shall tell you the eight books I would take to a desert island, and my reasons for doing so. Because, of course, it isn’t simply the most favourite books.
1. The Provincial Lady by E.M. Delafield
This book – which has all four of the series in, which isn’t cheating since I own the book (I’m not just making up a non-existent collected version, as many castaways on the series do), would always be fresh to me, I think. So amusing, so witty, and I have already read it any number of times without getting tired of it.
2. The World of Pooh by A.A. Milne
I believe this is the two-in-one title. If I can only have one of the two, I’d pick The House at Pooh Corner, because that way I get Tigger, and that impossibly moving ending. I have to admit, I don’t quite trust or respect people who don’t ‘get’ Pooh et al. Sorry…
3. Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker
We all knew this would be here, didn’t we?
4. A Writer’s Diary by Virginia Woolf
I ummed and ahhed over which of her novels I would take – and had written down To The Lighthouse – when I realised I could compromise and take the book that explores all of the rest of her writings. True, I wouldn’t be able to indulge in the astonishing beauty of her fiction sentences, but it is a sacrifice I will have to make. (And unlike some, I don’t really mind that Leonard was the editor. Someone had to be, and she trusted him.)
5. The Mitford Sisters: Letters Between Six Sisters ed. Charlotte Moseley
There is so much in this volume. So much social history, so much about what it is to be a family. And, practically speaking, it is enormously long, so I wouldn’t race through it.
6. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
There aren’t many books I consider to be works of genius (although most of Woolf’s would make that grade). But this one is.
7. Collected Stories of Katherine Mansfield
I think this exists. Otherwise I’ll picked a ‘selected’, or maybe just the collection Bliss. Her writing is so beautiful, precise, and observant – it would be like having people around, because she understood people so well. But her stories do tend to be rather melancholy, so I’d have to turn to Pooh or something afterwards.
8. My doctoral thesis
Is this monumentally arrogant? Probably, but I’d love to take this – not just as a reminder of years of hard work, and the most my mind will ever be stretched, but because I still find the topic so fascinating. And my memory is so bad that it will quickly feel like somebody else wrote it.
I’ll swap the books and music around, allowing me one record (instead of one book) – and I choose My Song is Love Unknown. I think everybody who has a relationship with God marvels especially at one aspect of His nature, and – for me – that is His incredible love. “Love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be” is a wonderful line, I think. And I would ideally choose a version that isn’t by a fancy choir. I always prefer versions that sound sincere, i.e. I want it to sound like it would in a normal church service, more or less, rather than a cathedral choir. But that sort of thing isn’t on YouTube, so I’ll settle for this version, which is at least sung by grown ups…
And my luxury? Sorry to be boringly British, but it’s an enormous supply of tea. I don’t know if I can get milk alongside, but if not, I’ll learn to like black tea. But a life without tea? Unthinkable.
Over to you! Pick your eight books, your song, and your luxury. Let me know in the comments if you have a go. And I might well do the more traditional version of Desert Island Discs soon…