Desert Island Reads

Wyrd & Wonder: celebrate the fantastic

There’s a long-standing British radio show that invites celebrities to pick the eight musical tracks, one book and a luxury item they’d want with them if they were stranded on a desert island. Seems to me there’s room for a bookish twist. Introducing the most involved prompt for this year’s Wyrd And Wonder Challenge…

Welcome to Desert Island Reads, where we imagine ourselves in a terrible situation: cast away with nothing to do but read. Okay, so this doesn’t sound entirely awful – but choosing our limited island library is the real challenge. We’re not going to worry about solving the challenge of survival, just how to while away the days (weeks? months?) until we’re rescued.

The Rules

Desert Island Discs – the classic BBC radio show that inspired this post – allows players to take eight musical tracks (not albums!), a single book (plus the complete works of Shakespeare and the Bible or a more appropriate religious / philosophical book of choice as a freebie) and a random ‘luxury’ item to make island life bearable.

For Desert Island Reads, I’m switching things up. Castaways may have:

  • Eight (audio)books – your Desert Island Reads float ashore in a watertight chest, phew!
    • If you want to take a series, each book in it counts as one of your eight unless a collected edition has been published. So Temeraire would be all your books; The Lord of the Rings could be just one (rather heavy) book
    • No, you can’t have a fully-loaded ebook reader. Nice try
  • A podcast, TV show or movie – for when you really can’t read any more
    • If you choose Podcast / TV show: yes, you get all the episodes / seasons
    • If you choose Movie: since I’m being lenient, yes this can be a series / franchise
  • One thing you just can’t do without
    • A favourite food, something comforting, a touch of luxury – this can be pretty much whatever you like, so long as it’s inanimate, can’t help you escape or communicate with the outside world, and doesn’t require electricity or internet connectivity
    • Bonus: you can listen to audiobooks / podcasts or watch your TV show / movie (on some magical waterproof device that doesn’t need power and has very limited storage, shh)
    • Don’t worry: you already have access to any medication you require to manage medical conditions, plus a well-stocked first aid kit

Assuming you do this for the Wyrd And Wonder Challenge, please limit your bookish and entertainment picks to fantasy titles. If you’d like to make a non-fantasy-related response at another time, you’re very welcome.

Please link back to this post so I can swing by to enjoy your selections!

My Wyrd and Wonder Desert Island Reads

  1. MY DESERT ISLAND READS… I’m going for comforting rereads and books from my TBR that I think can be read as stand-alones. That distant noise in the wind? Just me screaming over all the books I’m leaving behind.
    1. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien: I grew up rereading this book, but as an adult – and especially since the movies – I don’t make the time for it. This is a perfect opportunity, and my single-volume collected edition has the fringe benefits of Alan Lee’s gorgeous artwork and being big enough to subdue any intrusive insects.
    2. The Books of Earthsea – Ursula Le Guin: another life-long favourite that stands up to regular visits. I have a tendency to only reread the first two books, so this is a chance to get to know the later books just as well.
    3. In The Labyrinth of Drakes – Marie Brennan: while I’m deeply sad there’s no collected Lady Trent to keep me company, I didn’t pause for even a second to work out which one I’d take as a comfort read. If only one Isabella can come with me, this is the Suhail l choose. Ahem.
    4. Children of Earth and Sky – Guy Gavriel Kay: I’ve loved (and reread repeatedly) almost every GGK I’ve read (except Ysabel, eh) so I’m not sure why I’ve never read this one when it features pirates, Venice and Constantinople. In the chest it goes.
    5. Black Sun – Rebecca Roanhorse: this feels like a bit of a risk as I didn’t love Trail of Lightning, but I can’t resist a Pueblo fantasy. Don’t make me regret not choosing The Jasmine Throne (or heck, just taking Realm of Ash)
    6. The Witness for the Dead – Katherine Addison: The Goblin Emperor is such a delight to revisit that the as-yet-unread sidequel can surely only bring joy.
    7. The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon: a protracted stay on a desert island is just what I need to finally push me into reading this epic chonk of a book!
    8. The Stone Sky – NK Jemisin: I have reservations about taking this when I can’t take the first two as well, but I need to stop putting off finishing this amazing trilogy.
  2. TV, MOVIE OR PODCAST… is a tough pick for me as I bias towards scifi over fantasy on-screen. Maybe The Prestige or Stardust – or better, Labyrinth or Wonder Woman? Tempting. However, if I don’t want to read it likely means I can’t (due to headaches or visual migraines) – so I won’t be able to watch anything either. Audio seems like a better choice, so I’m taking Realm.FM’s Bookburners (which is an audio serial, so I can call it a podcast, right? Right)
  3. I CAN’T DO WITHOUT… I’ve travelled for work a lot the past few years, with long stints away from home. I learned there’s three things that help make somewhere strange feel like home: books, a snuggly blanket and favourite foods. We’ve got books covered, so I’ll take a supply of Bird & Blend tea (preferably Cloud 9 or Duvet Day). Rock’n’roll, I know.

Share your Wyrd And Wonder Desert Island Reads on May 12th as part of the Wyrd And Wonder Challenge.

It should go without saying, but just in case: this post is inspired by but in no way affiliated, associated or endorsed by the BBC.

IMAGE CREDIT: pegasus image by Svetlana Alyuk on