Top Ten Tuesday: Desert Island Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog. The topic this week is Books I’d Want With Me While Stranded On a Deserted Island. There are so many books I’d love to have with me that I’d really, really want to have my Kindle and an endless battery that never needs recharging, but failing that I’d want these ten books, mostly long ones that I’ve read and would love to re-read:

  •  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – I’ve read this many times, but each time I still think it’s wonderful. It’s a novel based on character, plot and is a study of society in the late 18th/early 19th centuries, but above all it is a love story.
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens – I first read this years ago after being captivated by Charles Dance as Mr Tulkinghorn, Gillian Anderson as Lady Dedlock and Dennis Lawson as John Jarndyce in a BBC TV production and have been wanting to re-read it. It’s about the obscure case in the Court of Chancery of Jarndyce and Jarndyce.
  • Pompeii by Richard Harris. The story of the eruption of Vesuvius, destroying the town of Pompeii and killing its inhabitants as they tried to flee the pumice, ash and searing heat and flames. Harris gives vivid descriptions of the luxury of the town – its villas and baths – the corruption of its leaders, the poor living conditions of the general population and the savage cruelty shown to the slaves. 
  • Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill, the 11th book in his Dalziel and Pascoe series. When Detective Superintendent Andy Dalziel witnesses a bizarre murder across the street from his own back garden, he is quite sure who the culprit is. But is he right? 
  • The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman – one of the best historical novels that I’ve read. It’s about Richard III from his childhood to his death at Bosworth Field in 1485. And it’s a long book, nearly 900 pages that took me a while to read it, but never once did I think it was too long, or needed editing.
  • The Wolf Hall Trilogy by Hilary Mantel – I suppose I’m cheating here but these three books Wolf HallBring Up the Bodies and The Mirror & the Light belong together as they trace the life and death of Thomas Cromwell, the blacksmith’s son who climbed to the heights of power in Henry VIII’s Tudor England. 
  • Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin. I think this is one of his best – a realistic and completely baffling mystery, a complex, multi-layered case, linking back to one of Rebus’s early cases on the force as a young Detective Constable.
  • Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson – a trilogy of semi-autobiographical novels about the countryside of north-east Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire, England, at the end of the 19th century. I first read this years ago whilst I was recovering from a bad case of flu.
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – I forgot that I don’t like reading about battles and war when I read this book, a vast epic centred on Napoleon’s war with Russia. Like all the other books on this list I loved it.
  • Charles Dickens: a Life by Claire Tomalin – an immensely detailed biography, that brings Dickens, his books, his work for the poor, downtrodden and ill-treated, and his world to life. It’s a ‘warts and all’ biography; nothing is left out.

18 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Desert Island Books

  1. Lark Rise to Candleford is one for a re read definitely. You’ll need to be stranded for quite some time with War and Peace and the Mantel’s to get through!

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  2. I really like your choices, Margaret. I’d definitely want some Dickens and Austen with me, too. And there’s something about the Dalziel and Pascoe series that has made it enduring. You’ve reminded me, too, that I must read some more of Richard Harris. Yes, definitely an excellent list here!

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    1. I still remember it. The cast was excellent and I was so impressed with Johnny Vegas as Krook who was almost unbelievably good in the part. I’d love to re-read it soon …


  3. Excellent choices Margaret, The Sunne in Splendour is absolutely one of the best I’ve read from this period.

    All 3 of Mantel’s Cromwell books? Oh come on, that’s bending the rules too far (says she who is gutted that she didn’t think of that ploy)

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