Books Are My Bag and Desert Island Books

Books are my bag is a UK campaign to celebrate bookshops. The campaign mostly revolves around these really cool and very useful tote bags (even more so now that plastic carrier bags cost 5p in the UK!). The BAMB campaign was set up to support local physical bookshops and to show that they are not just places to buy books but also community hubs. The campaign runs from Thursday 8th October to Saturday 10th October, when local bookshops around the country will be having Big Bookshop Parties. Find out where your nearest one is by visiting the BAMB website. You can join in the campaign by buying lots of books and using the hashtags #BOOKSAREMYBAG #BAMB and #LOVEBOOKSLOVEBOOKSHOPS.

So anyway, this year’s theme is #desertislandreads. BAMB are asking book lovers to share the top 8 books they’d want to take with them to a desert island.


Today in Miss W’s office (used to work in a bookshop, now work in a book related office) we were all filling in the all important 8 desert island titles we would like to take with us. I had quite a hard time choosing mine because I wanted them to be favourites that I think I could read again (Miss W hardly ever re-reads as there are too many books and too little time!) but also the books had to be somewhat uplifting and optimistic. Someone in the office suggested The Handmaid’s Tale the dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood, which I think would creep me out and make me feel like I was a tribute in the Hunger Games arena or that Big Brother from 1984 was watching me… I figured that if I were alone on a desert island I’d be feeling quite hopeless and that the waters would probably be shark infested so I’d want to read something escapist to take my mind of my predicament.

The books I chose were the following (in order of them popping into my head).

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 

If you haven’t read this great novel by Dickens please pick it up and persevere with the slow start, because it is one of the best books I have ever read. It tells the story of Pip, an orphan from the marshes in Kent. It is full of adventure, mystery, extreme poverty and changing circumstance. I love the characters of the eccentric Miss Havisham and the cold and heartless Estella. I would take it to a desert island to remind myself of the cold and damp back in Dear Old Blighty.

The Magus by John Fowles 

Fowles was apparently a bestselling author in the 1960s. He is probably best known for The French Lieutenant’s Woman, but my favourite of his is The Magus. The story revolves around Nicholas Urfe, a young English teacher on a Greek island. Urfe gets caught up in the psychological illusions of a master trickster which lead him down uncertain roads. This book totally messes with your mind but is full of exciting literary and cultural references and that’s why it’s on my desert island list.

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan
When this novel came out in France in the 50s it shocked with its daring story of sexual awakening. It is the story of 17 year old Cecile and her summer spent in a villa in the French Riviera with her father and his mistress. This is the perfect coming of age novel and I love the faded summer feeling of this book which would be perfect for a beach read.

Platero and I by Juan Ramón Jiménez

This is a Spanish classic. It is a little book of lyrical prose all about a little donkey called Platero. In this semi-autobiographical book the poet describes every day scenes in a village in Spain. His descriptions are painfully beautiful and are perfectly crafted to make you feel the heat of the mountains of Spain and hear the soft braying of a donkey. This is my comfort choice, as I love dipping in and out of this book once in a while.

One Hundred Years of Solitude Gabriel García Márquez

This is the saga-like story of seven generations of the Buendía family. This is magical realism at it’s finest. García Márquez creates a mythical town, Macondo, which is basically Colombia. All kinds of weird and wonderful things happen in Macondo, and if it is confusing because most of the characters have the same name, it is also extremely absorbing and would be a great choice to while away hours waiting to be rescued from a desert island.

The House of Spirits Isabel Allende 

Allende is one of my favourite writers and this is my favourite of her books. This novel is also a magical realism family saga which spans four generations of the Trueba family in Chile. Allende creates a world where spirits and colourful humans intersect against a backdrop of political upheaval. I would take this book to a desert island because I loved it when I first read it and have been meaning to read it again!

Complete Adventures of Tintin by Hergé

When I was little I absolutely loved Tintin comics and thought he was the coolest for going on all those adventures and investigations in the craziest countries. At the time I didn’t realise Tintin was a journalist and not a private investigator like I’d always kind of assumed he was! When I finally clicked I was like ‘wow, I grew up to be like Tintin!’

Mafalda by Quino 

This comic strip is about a 6 year old girl in Argentina during the 60s/70s. She represents the middle classes and has a huge concern for humankind and a deep hatred of soup. I love her sass, intelligence and wittiness. I also used to read these comic books when I was little and they would be a comforting companion on a desert island.

So there you go, I probably have missed a ton of favourite books out that deserve to be on the list, but I’m guessing baggage space for books is limited on a raft on the middle of the ocean to get to a desert island, so I’ll stick to the allocated 8. Do go along to your favourite local bookshop this weekend and get a lovely BAMB tote to put all your nice new books in.

Miss W would love to know what your 8 desert island books would be so please comment and share with all other keen readers out there!


4 thoughts on “Books Are My Bag and Desert Island Books

  1. This is so hard! I like your reasoning behind your titles- much like desert island discs, I think what could I listen to, or in this case read, again and again, and also what wouldn’t make me feel even more lonely and sad on my island? Unfortunately much like my music choice I think I’m into quite depressing books, so there’s probably no avoiding that one.

    1. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
    This is my alternative to the complete works of Shakespeare in terms of analysis and gaining something new from each re reading…I’m not sure it’s my favourite Steinbeck (too hard to choose) but it is a fascinating read.

    2. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
    This is often classified as ‘chick lit’ for some reason and I never know why; possibly to do with the god awful film adaptation that Niffenegger resolutely distanced herself from upon the movie rights being sold. Anyway, it’s a beautiful twisting, spiralling story and the characters are so vivid that it’s one book I’ve actually found time to return to on more than one occasion and not felt guilty about it.

    3. Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres
    Again rich in characters…hoping it would make me feel less lonely to surround myself with fiction that demonstrates such realistic portrayals of human emotion!

    4. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
    Just my favourite classic !

    5. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
    Perfect island reading fodder…and delightful short stories to dip in and out of.

    6. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates
    Not sure if it’s a good idea to include this one because it’s so depressing, but I love it in all it’s miserable, suburban glory.

    7. The L Shaped Room by Lynne Reid Banks
    I also wondered about bringing Atwood- I do love her writing but didn’t think any novels were suitable for the island, so this is a nice feminist read without being too weighty in content. Super uplifting and still as fresh and relative today as when it was written.

    8. Complete works of Nonsense by Edward Lear
    I tussled with including s children’s book but I think this is a good compromise. This would be good for making me smile and also has weird illustrations accompanying his verse to keep my eyes happy.

    Liked by 1 person

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