Welcome to Desert Island Lit. In this episode, I’m thrilled to be joined by the delightful Beth of BooksNest.
In this series, I ask my guests to pick five – and only five – books to take with them to the Island of Absurdia. A solitary island where one whiles away their days in joyful isolation, accompanied only by their favourite literature!
Swept away on an existential tide, Beth finds herself in solitary confinement on the Isle of Absurdia.
And because we’re on the Isle of Absurdia, our esteemed guest will, as always, receive a copy of The Myth of Sisyphus and a luxury item of their choice. In this case, she’s picked a cinema popcorn machine – large but of course necessary.
Beth's Desert Island Lit Picks
Is anyone surprised… probably not.
I have a few reasons for picking this book, not only is it huge and therefore would take me a good chunk of time to read, but also there’s so much to discover from it in each reread. I feel I could read it as a different book each time which would be an excellent source of entertainment for me. There are so many messages in Tolkien’s books and I love the way we all read them differently.
The world of The Lord of the Rings has been with me ever since the first film came out when I was a child. I loved the elves the very best; their elegant movements and skill with a bow and arrow. My grandad actually made me my very own bow and arrow so I could be like Legolas in a nearby forest.
In short, this world has been with me since childhood and will be with me for my whole life I expect. It’s something I have a very personal connection with on quite a few levels.
It wasn’t until a few years ago I first read the books, which I think was the perfect time for me to read them and love them. I’m already considering a reread, so it’s a good thing this tome would be with me on a desert island! I loved comparing the books to the films, of which the films have stayed incredibly true. And seeing my favourite characters come to life in a whole new way.
I’m sure there are better yoga books out there – but this is the one on my shelves. If I’m going to be abandoned on an island, I’d like to find some zen and get really good at something that will help my body and mind. I’ve always enjoyed yoga, but I’ve never dedicated enough time to get particularly good at it, so I guess this would be my time!
I find exercising is always something I think negatively about, despite the good it does for me. But there is something about yoga that makes me hate it a little less. The release it gives when your muscles start to stretch and your body feels more open, is quite brilliant.
It pains me to give away a perfectly good slot to a book about exercise, but I think I’d thank myself for it.
This has quickly become one of my favourite books. I read it in 2020 and it’s stayed with me ever since. This is a book about a man who can bring the characters from other books out of their pages and into the real world. This is based around books we would know and love, such as Matilda and The Chronicles of Narnia.
It follows two brothers within its story, the magical brother and the one trying to help. We’re following the latter as he tries to get to the bottom of something much larger at play. Along this journey we see a fictional street being created where all of these fictional characters can live together. Seeing them interact with each other and be so true to their original depictions, is any fiction lover’s dream!
The reason I’ve picked this, other than it being absolutely excellent, is also because it’s almost like getting multiple books for the price of one. Because this book features characters from childhood and adult classics alike, it feels like you’re also getting the familiarity of those books too. It’s a rather lovely experience to rediscover these characters in new ways and see what adventures they dive into in The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep.
I was wracking my brain to think of books that would cover a range of genres, so far we’ve had high fantasy, contemporary fantasy, exercise (uhh exercise), so it was about time for a historical romance.
If you haven’t heard of this book then perhaps you’ve been living on a desert island because it is AMAZING. It follows the life of Evelyn Hugo, a Hollywood starlet in the 50’s onwards as she experiences rises and falls in her career and also seven marriages along the way. This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is brilliantly written, captivating and tender, tense and emotional, it has everything an amazing work of fiction needs to keep its readers hooked. So I think it would keep me endlessly entertained on a desert island.
I remember my first (and only – so far) read of this book was in the autumn of 2018. I listened to it as an audiobook on my way to and from work and I can still remember the feeling of listening to it every day. It became the anthem for my commute and gave me something to look forward to each time I drove my car. It really is a book with an atmosphere that just stays with you so perfectly – how could I not pick it for this list?!
I thought long and hard about my final book for this list, especially trying to pick a stand alone vs a book in a series I’d never be able to finish stranded on this island.
There was a lot in contention, but I wanted something long enough to entertain me for a while, and something that felt warm and wholesome. I went for Little Women in the end, a book I only very recently read for the first time, in December 2021.
I wouldn’t say it’s a favourite book of mine, but it’s in this list for one simple reason. It feels like home.
My logic being, if I’m stuck alone on this island I’m of course going to be homesick, I’d yearn for family and friends, for companionship and for traditions and festivities. Little Women is pretty much the first book I thought of that had all of these things. It’s pages are filled with the stories of the March sisters and their lives as they grow from girls to young women. I know I could turn to any chapter and feel comforted by their stories.
I think this book really resonated with me because it follows four very different paths these sisters take. I’m at a crossroad in life at the moment where I’m seeing a lot of friends my age go on to do very different things to those I am achieving and it can often feel strange. But for me, Little Women reminded me we all have our different routes in life and it doesn’t make them any less valid if they’re not the route everyone else is taking.
Also having seen the recent film adaptation, I think I could picture this in my head too and have an even more visual reading experience. So really, this book would be like bringing a film with me too.
Big thanks to Beth for getting involved – it’s been a genuine pleasure to host one of the UK’s most popular BookTubers on the blog.
Let me know what you think of her selections in the comments below, and don’t forget to check out her blog, Patreon, and social channels