One of my favorite radio program is Radio 4’s Desert Island Disc. In this program a presenter would interview someone from all aspects of public life. This could be from politics, entertainment, science or sport. They would be asked that if they were to be cast away on a desert island which records, book and luxury item would they take.
As well as listening to their choice of records they also relate their choices to the significance of that particular music/record in their life. Life story and the journey they took to get to their present stage of life.
So here we have Desert Island discs with a twist. Basically, it will be desert island authors and focus on the authors or collection of books I would take as a castaway on a desert Island.
The question is why I would take these books or collection of books on my desert island. And what important part do they play in my life journey. Which part of my life do they remind me of?
During my primary school and my weekly Saturday trips to the library Enid Blyton books were the first on my list. I was only allowed to borrow four books at each visit, and if I had not read one of the books my choices would all be from the Enid Blyton collection. This collection of books would come with me as it would take me back to the early part of my reading journey.
Blyton wrote hundreds of books ranging from fairy tales to adventure. I was more drawn to the adventure series. I think I discovered her when I had passed the stages of Noddy and The Naughtiest Girl. I joined it at the stages of The Famous Five, Secret Seven, and the boarding school series Malory Towers and St Claire’s.
I believe that I would like these books as there was such a simplicity in the way which theses children lived their lives. Most especially the Secret Seven and the Famous Five. Okay, so they always found themselves in adventure or adventure always found them; but they didn’t have the use of mobile phones, computers or even television. Yet their days were full of life. They were friends with one another in the true sense of it.
The Malory Towers and St Clare series was a life which I had never experienced expect in the comedy film ‘St Trinians’
2-James Hadley Chase
I am not sure if it was the adventure series of Enid Blyton which led me to my next collection of books. Or maybe it was just by default.
There was a summer during my secondary school days that I was on holiday in Nigeria .Endless days of sun and freedom. It was an introduction to another culture, traditions and environment. Mixing with the local children. Even though language was a barrier we played together as if we had originated from the same womb.
During the evening, browsing through my hosts bookshelf I noticed that there were two collection of books. One was back editions of Readers Digest and the others were about twenty James Hadley Chase.
I would not normally have picked up a copy of Readers Digest. However, I read through all the Readers Digest. This was mainly because the cover of the James Hadley’s’ were a put off. The pictures of scantily clad ladies was not something that was appeasing. On completing the Readers Digest I didn’t have anything to read. I grabbed a Chase from the bookshelf. I even remember the first one I read. It was Mission to Venice. So that was it, one book and I was hooked.
Whenever I come across a Chase novel it takes me back to that summer in Nigeria.
3- Chiamanda Ngozi Adichie
My university course required me to read quite a number of fiction. Ranging from the classics to the modern; from African literature to American literature. So after graduating I can honestly say that I was totally saturated by fiction. I so decided to have a break.
For quite a while I must confess that I didn’t read a fiction book. Then one day a friend recommended Chiamanda Ngozi Adichies’
‘It really encapsulates the Nigerian Civil war’ she said.Half of a Yellow Sun.
I had never heard of Adichie talk less of Half of a Yellow Sun. Apparently, this was not even her first novel. The reason I would take this book is that, apart from me having an enlightening into the Nigerian Civil war, that this book reminds me of my literary hiatus. So I can proudly say that she was my first book after my hiatus. On that note, this book would follow me to my desert island as a reminder of my return to the literary world.
I have previously mentioned that I had a hiatus after graduating from university. This will lead me to the next collection of books which I would take to my desert Island. This collection does not stem from an individual author. I actually thought of this collection whilst I was reading an article about which books which have been turned into films and warranted a sequel. Someone in the article mentioned that Pride and Prejudice warranted a sequel. Then I thought ‘that’s it’….the classics. To be more specific, the romantic classic. My collection would include Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion; Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles and The Mayor of Casterbridge
The reason for choosing this collection is that it would give me joy to read them without a sword of Damocles hanging over my head. I would read it without the efforts of focusing on the style of the language; the social economic background; or any literary techniques which were enforced on me during my undergraduate days. This would be like a laugh in the face of my lecturers. I am sure that my understanding of these novels would be easier that when they were read ‘under duress’.
So, I have shared my desert island choices. I would very much like to hear the books or collection of books which you would take with you on a desert Island. Also let me know the reason for your choices.