Originally from Lancashire, London-based writer, blogger and newly-published author, Robyn Donaldson recently penned a book with her best friend Emma Hopkinson called It’s Your Loss. Born from the belief that there is no right or wrong way to navigate loss, and explore their natural inclination to either keep their feelings in (Emma) or let them all out (Robyn), the book fuses personal experience with expert commentary from a professional psychologist anchors their differing viewpoints in scientific fact.
I was thrilled to host Robyn on my Desert Island Books series, and loved how varied her literary choices were. From the original Greek classic to the ultimate comfort read, here are the eight books she’s take with her to the sandy shores of a desert island.
The Odyssey by Homer
The Emily Wilson translation please as I did the Robert Fagles edition at school and uni. Oh, and can I have an ancient Greek dictionary so I can have a go myself? I love the Odyssey – I’m a proper nerd for Classics.
Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
So I have never got all the way through this book but I did a creative writing MA so you’re kind-of obliged to smirk over DFW with Very Cool Boys (or you were in the early 2000s) so this because I like him and it’s a very long book and there’s time. Failing that Moby Dick or Ulysses? Again, I am fully trying to cheat the system here.
Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire
I love all of Warsan’s work. It’s like this lyrical, raw, sensual, horrifying, grounding thing that makes you dig yourself while probably feeling a bit sickened by the privilege you grew up with.
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
I had to have this to remind me of my chaotic, funny, sometimes kind-of psychedelic family of farmers from Lancashire. And cos I’m a narcassist so I low-key see myself as the Flora of my family.
The Collected Stories of Lorrie Moore by Lorrie Moore
This is terrible, isn’t it? Like choosing the Best of the Beatles. I just love her stories and I’m really focused on having enough reading material. I feel like that snarky, knowing metropolitan life is something I’d really miss on a desert island so Lorrie Moore could be my wry companion.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
I just find this book so funny. Even if it is Sarah Palin’s favourite I still maintain it’s a classic. I could read about Ignatius’s struggles with his mother/work/people/clothes/stomach over and over and still cry laughing every time.
This is the last book I read so very much in the front of my mind and is short but amazing. It speaks to my current home (South East London) but from a standpoint that’s core to this area, the experience of a young black person growing up in a place with profound and historic inequality. It’s a beautiful, stirring depiction of love, life and growing up straddling different worlds.
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
Just romance again. And hope. And sadness. I love this book with my whole heart. I think the read-one-million-times-ability of it trumps the tininess. And it makes me want to write more and punctuate better.
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