Books / Book Reviews / Desert Island Books

Desert Island Books: Arpita from Bag Full of Books


If you like the notion of armchair travel, you’ll love Arpita’s beautiful blog, Bag Full of Books. Currently living in Kolkata, Arpita’s lived everywhere from the Uk to the US, and loves nothing better than being stuck in the middle of a good book.  As someone who sees the world through books – for Arpita, North America signifies Anne of Green Gables’ Prince Edward Island, while the Lake District is synonymous with Arthur Ransome – it’s no surprise that her Desert Island Books comprise of a number of tomes with location at the forefront. Read on to find out which tomes made the cut…

Being stuck on a dreary desert island, reading a book is not my idea of a good time. I’d much rather prefer the comforts of my small home library, a cup of tea at hand, curled up with my favourite tome. There’ll be soft music playing in the background and diffuser oils dispersing their magic into the ether.

However, if I did turn all Robinson Crusoe, I think the books I would take along on my desert island should fit at least one of the following three criteria:

1. Be a sort of cheery epistle. Nothing too gloomy or gothic unless the writing is fabulous. If the writing makes me laugh; all the better.

2. Should warrant a need to re-read every couple of years or so, especially if I’m stuck on the island for a long time with my limited library.

3. I love a good love story (this might be a result of my Indian upbringing and having watched too many Hindi cinemas as a child), although to be fair, only a handful of my 8 desert island books have a good meaty romance at the heart of things.

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Without further ado, here are my 8 desert island books:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice was the first piece of classical literature I read at the tender age of twelve. Though Persuasion is my favourite Austen, I find the dialogue of Pride and Prejudice to be so full of wit and sparkle, and the characters so unique and memorable that I think reading this on my desert island would be uplifting.

Diary of a Provincial Lady by EM Delafield

I enjoy epistolary novels and if you do too, you should consider taking the Diary of a Provincial Lady on your desert island sojourn. Read a bit every day and the self deprecating voice of a provoncial lady all the way from rural Devon will echo among the coconut groves.

Guard Your Daughters by Diana Tutton

I read this coming of age novel recently and the characters and quirkiness of this book still remains fresh in my mind. Describing the unconventional upbringing of a large family of sisters, the rather dark twist on the plot puts a rather sober mood on an otherwise charming story.

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

An English family escape the bleak British winter for the sunny climes of the Greek island of Corfu (and who can blame them?). The youngest in the family, would-be naturalist and writer Gerald Durrell, describes the kaleidoscope of creatures, both human and non-human that inundate his strange and wonderful life. This book makes me laugh- mostly due to the antics of the most unruly family.

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell

This, to me, is Gaskell at her best. North and South talks about the divide between the industrial North of England and the rural, South of England during Victorian times. However, the beautiful love story at the heart of the novel makes this lesson in English industrial history eminently readable.

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Gothic, dark and brooding, Jane Eyre is most certainly my favourite selection from the Bronte sisters’ collective canon of literary works. The character of Jane- so physically frail and vulnerable, yet mentally so very strong, always appeals to me. Jane Eyre is such an emotionally engaging and sensual book for its time; a favourite to re-read every couple of years.

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

I’d never really thought about sailing or sailing adventures before I’d read Arthur Ransome to be honest. Ransome makes juvenile sailing around the Lake District, camping on remote islands, catching fish and chartering unknown waters seem very desirable. Plus, I might find the sailing tips useful when trying to escape from my own particular desert island.

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

Combining heartwarming tales about animals and also the people of the Yorkshire Dales, vet James Herriot creates a warm and fuzzy world that particularly affords comfort.

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Images: Arpita, Bag Full of Books

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