Book Reviews / Desert Island Books

Desert Island Books: The Reader’s Wardrobe


I first started following Madallina from The Reader’s Wardrobe about a year or so ago. I came across her via friend and fellow bookworm Lou Marlowe, and was soon entranced with her bright and bookish feed, that offers a winning blend of reading recommendations, stylish outfits, travel pics, and a candid insight into Madalina’s experience with mental health. She’s gained a legion of loyal followers on Instagram thanks to her open and honest captions, picture perfect bookshelves and friendly nature, and so I was thrilled when she agreed to take part in my Desert Island Books series. Read on for her selection of the eight books she’d take with her to the sandy shores of a desert island…

Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust

If there is one book I have always wanted to read but never made the time to is “Remembrance of Things Past” by Marcel Proust. For the last few years I have been making resolutions to at least read the first volume: “Swann’s Way” but it’s one of those resolutions I keep breaking. I imagine that being stuck on a dessert island would finally give me the perfect environment not to get too distracted and read Proust.

11/22/63 by Stephen King

I have not read much Stephen King but from what I have read this is by far my favourite book of his. It has everything: a heart breaking romance, a history lesson, time travel and the ethical questions that raise from its very possibility. It is clear from the epilogue that Stephen King spent a considerable amount of time researching the assassination of JFK, which is the main event surrounding the plot. This makes 11/22/63 a great book to learn a bit of history from including the debunking of some of the conspiracy theories surrounding the assassination. When I first read it, I was so captivated by it, I spent the whole weekend glued to the book. I was actually so entranced I barely ate or slept. It is the sort of book I would take with me on a dessert island because I need to reread it (so many of the details escaped me the first time) and I need a story this captivating to keep me going.

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Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

There is a pattern in the books I am choosing in that they are all big books. I love big books when they are epic and intense and know how to really tell a story and I think “Gone with the Wind” fits these requirements perfectly. As far as plot goes, I think it’s one of my favourite stories out there. It has love and loss and friendship and it spans over decades. I am not ashamed to admit that I sobbed by the end. To me that makes it a perfect desert island book.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

The last and only time I read the adventures of Arthur Conan Doyle’s hero I was 12 years old during my summer holidays. Someone gifted me a volume of complete works and I spent about a week reading it back to back. I was fascinated by Sherlock Holmes, by his wit and his distinct power of observation. It’s also one of the books that as an adult I always want to reread but I never do because other books get in the way. So what better time to finally get back to a childhood favourite but being stack on a desert island?

The Neapolitan Series by Elena Ferrante

This is slightly cheating because it’s four books in one but Elena Ferrante herself said that she would have liked to publish the series as one big novel but she was not allowed by her publishers. And who am I to argue with the author? I have to admit that I agree with Ferrante and having read the series I very much believe that the four published novels are one big novel in itself and they should not be considered separately. It was by far the best, most beautifully written work I read last year and probably ever. It is a work I know I will reread one day and it has to come with me on the desert island because I could read it over and over again.

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The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

After Elena Ferrante, Margaret Atwood takes the spot of favourite author and I could not find myself on a desert island without at least one of her books. I have read quite a lot of her work over the past few years and “The Robber Bride” is by far my favourite. It is less well-known than Atwood’s other work, especially the highly publicised The Handmaid’s Tale, but I think it deserves just as high a level of praise. It’s a story of female friendship, of female competition and hence of feminism. I think Atwood captures very well the way women are conditioned by patriarchy to compete with one another for men and hate each other so that they become weaker and less united by solidarity. I cannot recommend this enough and it’s definitely another book I want to reread.

Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales

I expect my life on the desert island will become dark and full of frustration at times, so what better book to sooth me but the ultimate childhood comfort: fairy tales. Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy tales have always been a favourite of mine, since the moment I learnt how to read. I loved how much they taught me about love and loss and that life isn’t just a bed of roses. I will definitely need this childhood classic for my sanity to make it.

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

What better time to learn how to dismantle the patriarchy if not on a dessert island where I will not be distracted by anyone and I can finally write my feminist masterpiece? It will mean I will be fully prepared to return to civilization and change the world. I have never read The Second Sex fully, but I have read quite a lot of parts and it’s the sort of work I dream of fully reading one day. I also think it would be important to have a non-fiction read along for the ride and this is the biggest one I can think of.

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Images © Madalina @ The Readers Wardrobe

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