Tamsien West is the founder of Babbling Books, a successful, multi-platform book-blogging profile where she reviews a variety of genres on her Instagram, produces videos on YouTube, and takes photography commissions from publishers launching new books. Her day job is at Melbourne Writers Festival, where she is Development Executive, building partnerships with sponsors and stakeholders. When she isn’t working or blogging, Tamsien can be found reading, journaling, painting or planning her next international adventure. As one of my favourite Australia-based Bookstagrammers, I was thrilled to invite her on to reveal her Desert Island Books. Read on for more…
‘Let me preface this by saying that asking a tragic book-lover what eight books they’d take to a desert island is a cruel task! That said, once I started thinking about it, I couldn’t stop. So after much deliberation, and more that a few cups of peppermint tea, I have come up with the semi-definitive list of books I would take to a desert island (that I can’t promise won’t change in a week when I finish something new and wonderful).
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
My first, absolutely unquestioned choice is this heartwarming and heartbreaking sci-fi novel about being human, even when you’re half a galaxy away from home. This is the perfect book for when I want to be reminded how rich and fulfilling human interaction can be, how wonderfully diverse the human experience is and what love, friendship, and generosity mean.
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
This feels like a ‘cheat’ book, getting two brilliant authors for the price of one. Good Omens is a hilarious novel about the end of the world by two masters of tongue-in-cheek fantasy. Oddly comforting for when you’re stuck on a desert island – and quite possibly in need of a laugh.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
A masterfully-layered novel filled with amazing characters, and a really incredible library and bookstore. The exact kind of novel that I could read over and over again and never get sick of – a book about books, with so many stories within the bigger narrative. Not to mention that even in an English translation the prose is beautifully quotable.
The Wind-up Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
If I ever start missing the trappings of society and modern living, I’ll just pick this book up for a read. It’s one of my all time favourite imaginings of the future of life on earth. Bacigulupi talks a lot about class and power, alongside some pretty vivid criticisms of capitalism, genetic modification and humanity’s collective failure to respond adequately to climate change. It’s a stark reminder of the work we still have to do if we hope to have a better and more just future.
Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
Honestly, I just really love this book. It’s a beautiful blend of gothic tension and rich description. Just reading the famous first line is enough to transport me to Manderlay – and off my desert island.
The Hobbit by J RR Tolkien
For when I need a classic escapist fantasy romp. At its core, The Hobbit is about a journey, and being stuck on a desert island is kind of a journey; at the least it would be a journey of self-discovery and patience! Reading the hobbit will also remind me of happy memories, and that’s a powerful thing. I read it first as a child, and again more recently as an adult when I traveled around New Zealand – the visual home of Tolkien’s world on the screen.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
The one and only unread book on my list. It’s 1200 + pages long and intimidates the hell out of me, but I’ve wanted to read it for the longest time. I have been told so many wonderful things about the writing and the story that I know if I can get over my fear of starting (and committing to) it, I’ll enjoy it. So if I’m stuck on a desert island, then I’ve really got not excuse not to read it.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J K Rowling
Ah, Harry Potter. What else is there to say? The Harry Potter series is the ultimate comfort read. Not only is it an escape to a world that I know intimately, but it’s also a powerful connection to the thousands upon thousands of people around the world who also love Harry Potter. When you’re reading a Harry Potter book it’s nigh on impossible to feel alone.
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Images: Tamsien West @ Babbling Books