Books mean a lot to us. We grow with the character in the books. We relate to what they go through or not at all and admire the life we wish we could have by being them. Escapism is reading but it is also learning, loving and appreciating.
I personally have my own library, it’s not as impressive as it used to be because I sold some of them at car boot sales and gave some away as gifts but I never forget a single book, they all became part of my being in one way or another, like some sort of educational osmosis.
The idea of being left on a desert island with three books ONLY is slightly upsetting because that implies I have to choose between the things I’ve read and I really don’t like having favourites because I read a lot of books that are part of a series but if I HAD TO choose I’d choose; The Bible (The King James version), The Teleportation Accident and 1984.
The Bible: The first book I read more than three times
The Bible for me is a must read. Whilst in secondary school I read it 10 times, in 7 different translations from beginning to end. It’s an epic, epic tale that has moments of horror, mystery, adventure, action, and romance with the protagonist slowly being revealed through the eyes of those who have experienced His presence in one form or another. The greatest stories are usually always about some damsel in distress and in The Bible it’s no different except the damsel is metaphorical and the hero is almost certainly unstoppable. The narrative was always what intrigued me to begin with.
My dad bought me a children’s bible when I was 11 I think and the illustrations captured what I read with such vivid depiction that my imagination recreated whole set pieces without being there, I could see it all in my head. I’d never read a full adult bible at the time but I was intrigued. By the time I got to 14 I had been given my first bible by my cousin. Three months later everyone one thought I was auditioning to be the pope because it was all I would read. It hooked me in with its old English, extensive detail and events that were all connected leading to one big main event that only few deciphered.
For me it was very much like waiting for all of MARVEL’s Avengers to team up in one film. I had seen all the MARVEL films of the solos characters but I’d never seen all of them on screen at the same time until The Avengers. At the fall of man in the garden of Eden God promises to restore mankind through a saviour. After that there are glimpses of this saviour all over the place in the bible’s narrative popping up consecutively like teaser trailers for the main event. Then finally after hundreds of years God’s promised saviour to man, God himself becomes man in the form of Jesus, and He looks so normal that it flies over everyone’s head. A prophet, a few hundred years before says about Him “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” This always threw me, that all that power and majesty can hide away in a human shell He chose to present himself in, and it worked so well that they thought He was blaspheming and they crucified Him. Spoiler alert, He comes back to life!
For me The Bible was a fantastic story but also a brilliant day to day moral compass. It helped me prune myself. I felt refined after putting into practice the good things I’d read over a period of time. There is so much practical information and instruction that can do a person good, so I do my best to go back and remind myself of those things to be better and constantly be refined. Apart from that I have The Bible to thank for being absolutely ace at Shakespeare. You read the king James version of The Bible from beginning to end and suddenly Shakespeare feels a lot like Harry potter, easy to read.
The Teleportation Accident
The Teleportation Accident was the first book to ever make me say “I seriously need to brush up on my writing skills.”
I’m beginning to think I have a thing for prose with mixed genres. The Bible certainly burns through themes and genre and The Teleportation Accident by Ned Beauman is no different except to say I can confidently say I’ve never read a book like it. David Mitchel’s Cloud Atlas (which was recently adapted to the silver screen) despite having various genres in its narrative does not even come close to the level of hyper idiosyncrasies that weave and interweave through the syntax and sentence structure let alone the narrative that tells the story through different genres. It’s both amazingly infuriating and completely wonderful all at once.
The cover actually drew my attention followed by the very turgid hardback. Nothing says good book like a hard back. Kindles, Nooks and E-readers are for techies. I’m a ‘Bookie’. This is one book I’d bet on to keep me entertained on a desert island. Gambling pun intended. This is one book that was made better because it was an actual book. Why I would bring it is simple. Sooner, or later I’d end up writing like Ned Beauman. That is to say, if I have a writing pad and pen with me on the island and no, I wouldn’t prefer a laptop, laptops are for techies. I’m not a techie; I’ma ‘writer’
More than anything, I detest the act of spoiling things for people. “No, I don’t want to know who died in Harry Potter and the Order of the phoenix because I don’t wish to cry for the next two days.” A threat I once made to a friend who attempted the sordid practise of ‘spoiling’. In order not to spoil the literary bliss that awaits you in Ned Beauman’s fantastic book I’ll simply say the book is a love story about an anti-hero who can’t get laid. The book is wildly entertaining and funny, sometimes verging on slapstick but what’s even more brilliant is that the quality of writing isn’t sacrificed or depreciated in richness just because it’s funny in places, it keeps the benchmark raised and the benchmark is high if I may say so myself. Ned Beauman has been accused of being ‘too clever’ and ‘pretentious’ but in all honesty I’m pretty much a fan boy and I don’t care. I’d gladly read this book again on a desert island if need be.
1984: The first book to haunt me.
1984 had such a profound effect on me when I first read it that I put the book down after reading it and swore to never read it again. All of George Orwell’s books received even worse treatment. I couldn’t bring myself to read them for fear of being haunted by chilling metaphors and similes. The ones present in 1984 were so uncanny to our time that they were sometimes inseparable from the real thing.
Having just read all that you’re probably wondering why I’d put myself through such a harrowing experience if it had such an effect on me. Well the truth is 1984 is needed. George Orwell is needed. When I get too happy about modern life in comparison to the people of the past I read 1984 and remember that actually we’re all living on borrowed time and we’re all fighting to survive in a world scarred and warped by evil that ultimately stems from our own hearts. It’s a reality check to say the least and it is needed because it’s so relevant. The main character Winston is so much what ‘surviving man’ sounds like. He just wants to live. On a desert island I think I’d need the feral ability to say ‘no’ against all and every odd, even if I can’t hope to master them all. It’s about living by breathing even though the water does rise.
I think reading 1984 on a desert island would remind me that I may be alone but I really don’t have it that bad. To me it always felt like Winston was alone anyway despite being surrounded by so many people, a community, albeit a sheep-like one. That is sadder than simply being alone. My solitude would be a kinder prison than his and that is something I’d tell myself to glean as I clung on to life each day, reading The Teleportation Accident for laughs as well as education, traveling as I immerse myself into the world constructed by its text, and making myself smile inside as I read The Bible, just like Robinson Crusoe who found comfort in a bible and was better for having found it.
So now dear readers the question comes round to you – what 3 books would you have and why? Choose wisely, it’s a lonely island and no one is there to give away spoilers.