If you like your reads cosy with a splash of home comfort and a dash of warming food, you’re in for a treat with my latest Desert Island Books guest. A seasonal storyteller, writer, reader, notebook hoarder and chicken-keeper, Helen from A Bookish Baker is one of my favourite people to follow on Instagram. Her feed is a wonderful concoction of books, baking and the British countryside, and the tales she chose for her Desert Island Books are comfort reading at its very best. From a mouthwatering food memoir, to a murder mystery and a slice of Marian Keyes, read on for the eight books Helen would take with her to the sandy shores of a desert island…
My Life in France by Julia Child
I absolutely adored this memoir. I was introduced to Julia Child by the film Julie and Julia and loved the film so much I wanted to read anything to do with it afterwards. And it didn’t disappoint – it was so much richer than the film. I don’t remember the details of the book but instead how I felt whilst reading it: cosy, entranced and lifted completely out of my surroundings. Depending on the type of desert island this might be exactly what I need.
Garlic & Sapphires by Ruth Reichl
If I’m completely honest I’d like to take all of Ruth Reichl’s memoirs. Her passion for food oozes out of the pages. Not only that but she takes you along with her on her culinary adventures. In Garlic & Sapphires Ruth details her life as a food critic. Her face is well-known by all the restauranteurs so she disguises herself and becomes different people. As with Julia Child Ruth just transports you to where she is sitting and generously shares with you what she is eating – along with entertaining you all at the same time.
Five Run Away Together by Enid Blyton
It was either this book or The Secret Island by Enid Blyton. If I’m going to be stranded on an island it would ideally have a ruined castle, jackdaws, a cave with soft sand, feather bracken for sleeping on and a convenient pool outside the cave for washing up (and for the dog’s drinking water). See, thanks to Enid Blyton I know exactly how to make myself at home whilst there. I’d also remember to take the tin opener for all the tins of food I’d managed to have with me. (If I took The Secret Island I’d also know how to make myself a house made of willow.) This is my favourite of the Famous Five series and is my go-to book for utter comfort.
Making It Up as I Go Along by Marian Keyes
I’m only part way through this book as I keep it as a ‘palette cleanser’ between books so it’d be great to have something fresh to read. It’s a series of essays written by Marian from beauty to insomnia to love. I’m a huge fan of Marian – she writes as she talks which is hilariously – so I’d be utterly glad of her company.
Tara Road by Maeve Binchy
On the subject of Irish writers I’d also like to take Maeve Binchy with me. Her books are full of wonderfully drawn characters, each with their own secrets and issues, so I know I’d never be lonely or bored. There is something just so homely about Maeve’s writing. And by ‘homely’ I mean she makes you feel welcome in her books. She takes you into her confidence and we are sat by the warming fire and fed cake and hot chocolate. I’m taking Tara Road because one of the main characters, Ria, is a wonderful cook. And yes, I do like lots of food in books!
A Murder is Announced (Miss Marple) by Agatha Christie
Now you might have guessed by now that I like a bit of cosiness in my books. And there’s nothing cosier than a murder in a country house with Miss Marple and her knitting doing the detective work. Obviously I could have chosen any of the Miss Marple books but this one stands out for me.
Doctor Who: The Writer’s Tale : The Final Chapter by Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook
Okay, so this one might be coming out of left field considering my previous books but it is one of the most entertaining, inspiring and honest books about writing that I’ve come across. In fact, you don’t even need to be a Doctor Who fan (I was a fan of his time as the head writer but nothing hardcore!) though it’s fascinating seeing how he pulls all his ideas and characters together to make the completed programmes. This is a book I can read again and again.
Rachel’s Everyday Kitchen by Rachel Allen
Can I take a recipe book? Because this one has to come with me. Unlike many possibly more well-known TV chefs and cooks Rachel’s food is simple and delicious. Her shepherd’s pie, for example, is so simple yet tastes utterly divine. Real comforting nursery food. And being on that desert island I’m going to need all the comfort I can get. Along with a food store to get all the ingredients but that’s a minor detail….
Images: A Bookish Baker
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