Desert Island/Zombie Apocalypse Reads

4 May

…Like beach reads, but forever!  You know how it’s sort of fun to imagine what books/CDs/TV boxsets you would take with you, if you had to pack up and ship out to a bomb shelter, alien planet, what have you? Well I do. My favourite part of reading runaway books as a kid was imagining what I would pack in my backpack. I would often include a sentimental locket, although I’ve never owned one.

I even read a book once where the protagonist chose something like TWO books  to take to the cave she was moving to, in some sort of extreme exercise of self-deprivation, because she wanted to wholeheartedly accept the post-civilization world. If you know what that book was, let me know. Anyway, it struck me as really harsh. She was leaving her house for a cave – she could’ve used some perfectly good technology-free entertainment, no?

When I made the big move here last year, I found the packing process physically painful and more than a little panic-inducing. I couldn’t believe the sheer amount of shit I’d amassed in the seven years I lived in Toronto. And it was definitely all from those seven years, because I moved there for university with nothing but a box and a suitcase and a dream.

But the fun side of packing is that you get to play a slightly easier version of the desert island game. It sucked leaving behind some of my favourite books, but it was also strangely satisfying to see my little mini-library tucked away in its box. Here are the books I deemed worthy of making the trip with me:

I had different reasons for choosing all of these. Some for nostalgic purposes (the Narnia box set has moved with me to Latvia, Poland, and once before to the UK, so I wasn’t about to leave it behind this time), some because they’ve become a recurring part of my reading life (Franny & Zooey, David Sedaris, Robertson Davies), and some because I hadn’t gotten around to reading them yet (Gladwell’s Outliers, The Portrait of a Lady, or still haven’t – cough – Brighton Rock), and I thought I should take a couple fresh ones along as well. I’d also like to add that not all of my favourites are necessarily included here, just because I don’t own all of them. Remember, I’m a tightwad. I may be the only bookworm out there who thinks they should spend more money on books.

Have you ever been forced to cull your book collection? Do you have any books you couldn’t dream of leaving across the ocean?


14 Responses to “Desert Island/Zombie Apocalypse Reads”

  1. winstonsdad May 4, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    always having to get rid of books either to local book sale or other bloggers ,oh my sebald ,thoreau ,joyce always be with me when lived in germany had get books sent from uk or travel to holland to get them ,all the best stu

    • Lija May 5, 2010 at 9:22 am #

      I don’t mind getting rid of a few (if only to avoid hyperventilating over a pile of books, seven years from now), but I think I’m happy to make my new place feel a little homier for now!

  2. missrandell May 5, 2010 at 1:15 am #

    Girl. GIRL. Welcome to my LIFE.

    I don’t think there’s any one book that has survived every move of mine since leaving PEI in September of 2002 (and I counted; this latest move is my 21st in just under eight years).

    One copy of Franny and Zooey, actually. And another of The Pokey Little Puppy. My biggest regret? Selling all 7 parts of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time before moving to San Francisco. No one believes that I’ve actually read it. I feel like the dog-eared copies would give me some cred.

    • Lija May 5, 2010 at 9:25 am #

      I’m so glad you kept The Pokey Little Puppy! See, now that it’s made it this far, you have to keep it forever.
      Luckily for me, I was able to leave a lot of books behind in Toronto, without having to actually get rid of them. I did sell some though, and still feeling regret pangs over The Blind Assassin.

  3. youngsliterarylondon May 5, 2010 at 9:04 am #

    The sentimental locket made me laugh out loud! I wanted one so much. I’m blaming either Annie or a Judy Blume novel. Any Judy Blume novel. There are definitely a few books that have escorted me from Bristol to Birmingham via Milwaukee and then London, but none have ever touched the place my imaginary aspirational locket takes up in the fictional suitcase of my heart.

  4. Lija May 5, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    “Fictional suitcase of my heart” would be a good song. Stop work for the day and see if you can come up with a chorus.

  5. obsidianrazor May 5, 2010 at 10:31 am #

    I wouldn’t go anywhere without The Phineas Poe trilogy by Will Christopher Baer. The Contortionists Handbook and Demaphoria by Craig Clevenger. As good as the books are, they also remind me of a period of my life, just when I started university. They were the first actual writers I got to interact with online, thus grounding writing into reality for me.

    It’s too hard deciding on the rest, I took every book at great cost on to four different locations as I was hiring a truck anyway… Maybe some Hammet or Chandler, Murakami… Maybe American Gods, maybe Neuromancer… Maybe, maybe…

    • Lija May 6, 2010 at 11:35 am #

      Yeah, I paid through the nose to ship even this one shelf’s worth of books! It’s best not to think about it…

  6. Kinga May 5, 2010 at 1:56 pm #

    I’m not the best person to ask about this as I’ve got books scattered about in 3 countries: Canada, the attic of my in-laws in the UK and here in Poland.

    One that has travelled with me everywhere (or mostly everywhere): Oscar Wilde’s Collected Works, Atwood’s Alias Grace and Handmaid’s Tale, The Bible (never really read, just hoping to one day as it’s supposed to be full of stories), Dzieci z Bullerbyn (in Polish, a children’s classic). There might be more, but I can’t think of any.

    If I were sent to a desert island…hmmm…probably all of the above with Davis’ Europe thrown in, the complete works of Atwood (not in a single volume, obviously), all of Tolstoy (maybe if I’ve got nothing to read, I’d get around to reading Tolstoy finally) and all of Dickens.

    I love your boxset of Narnia! It looks well-thumbed. I’ve got a similar box of Anne of Green Gables (the whole darn set of them) looking similarly well-thumbed, sitting on a shelf in my old bedroom of my parents’ house. Hoping to pass it onto my daughter, once she’s old enough.

    • Lija May 6, 2010 at 11:37 am #

      I guarded that box set like you wouldn’t believe (precisely trying to avoid that well-thumbed look!). I even banned one of my sisters from reading any more of them after she creased the cover of The Magician’s Nephew.

  7. youngsliterarylondon May 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm #

    These box sets are awesome! Mine is a rainbow of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I loved those guys. They’re still in Bristol but I miss them most days. Well, like, occasionally, when I’m not busy being cool and grown-up.

    Here’s my chorus:

    Ooh yeh, ooh yeh, come into
    the fictional suitcase of my heart
    ooh yeh, ooh yeh, come into
    the fictional suitcase of my heart

    • Lija May 6, 2010 at 11:40 am #

      Your song doesn’t have any rhyming. The fictional ipod of my brain isn’t sure about it.

      Don’t get me started on the Little House books. One of the (many) perils of having a school teacher for a mom is that she lent some of them out to students. I want The Long Winter back!

  8. youngsliterarylondon May 6, 2010 at 3:30 pm #

    Oh man. That’s making me mad by proxy. I think LIW might have been a lot to do with why I went to Wisconsin for my year abroad. And not a wagon in sight in 2004! What’s even the point.

    Ok, rhyming chorus. This time with 10% more effort.

    Do you want to be my start? (Ooh-ah)
    Do you want to drive my cart? (Ooh-ah)
    Do you want to be a part (Ooh-ah)
    of the the fictional suitcase of my heart?

    Do you want to heal my pain? (Ooh-ah)
    Do you want to shelter me from rain? (Ooh-ah)
    Do you want to be what’s playing (say it really fast like ‘plain’) (Ooh-ah)
    on the fictional ipod of my brain?

    I think you probably can’t wait for what I’m going to come up with for the verses.

    • Lija May 6, 2010 at 3:36 pm #

      I’m impressed. You win a tea!

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