It’s an old and painful hypothetical: If you could take only one book with you to pass the time on a desert island, which would you choose? Let’s assume you’ve got survival books memorized and need no book-shaped assistance to get by, even to build your own raft and venture back out to sea and toward civilization. Which book would you decide to spend your time with?
This is obviously a ridiculous question. How are you supposed to choose just one? Never fear, genre-specific categories are here! I (digitally) sat down with a small cross section of Ooligan’s finest to gather some hard data on this common inquiry, narrowing down the options to literary fiction, young adult, and science fiction and fantasy. The rules allowed for up to one book in each category if participants couldn’t narrow it down to a single title. This was possibly a mistake, but only eight people could bear the challenge even with the added leeway—this wasn’t a survey taken lightly.
This category was an obvious necessity for a bunch of publishing professionals—you can’t exclude a discussion of literary fiction in a room bursting with English majors. Let’s take a look at the responses:
- One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. Multiple respondents chose this novel, exceptionally appropriate for the circumstances and with a title sure to alternately torment and amuse.
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
- The Secret History by Donna Tartt.
- Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. This was given as a favorite and, as a bonus, an abundant source of kindling should the need arise.
- The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder.
Though this category might seem less obvious for a group of grad students, it’s too rich and varied an area to ignore, and plenty of us still enjoy at least a small handful of YA novels:
- Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison. A selection to inject hilarity into those sad, stranded days.
- Protector of the Small by Tamora Pierce.
- One of the Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling. Few who gave this as a pick were able to narrow it down to just one book. I’d likely go for the sixth or seventh, but picking just one for possibly the rest of your life does seem something like a nightmare in itself.
- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. This choice was qualified as being half sincere and half comedy, and it does have the benefit of evoking the Pacific Northwest while stuck on that desert isle.
Science Fiction and Fantasy
This category is here on pure favoritism. I like science fiction and fantasy, and so it is here:
- Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Though short, this first installment in Adams’s five-part series was selected to offer laughs and comfort the reader with the reassurance that they’re at least on the same planet as usual.
- Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay.
- The Broken Coil by Sy Itha.
- Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.
And there you have it! The Oolies have spoken. What does it all mean? Who knows. But some of us are prepared, now more than ever. Do you know what you’d choose?