3 Books For a Desert Island – Blog Hop

Yesterday, as I lie in our Evil Bed (named this way because it’s so villainously comfortable that you don’t want to get up), I looked at what I’d consider rather a meager but nonetheless special bookshelf. Back in Ireland, and before that in Poland, I owned many more books, but my moving over to the USA forced me to be very picky of what I’d be taking with me (and believe me, I spent a lot of money to get those books over the pond), and what I might need to buy again in the future.

This got me thinking of the memory game from my youth, “What would you take if you were to go to a desert island?” in which one person mentions an item, and the next person has to repeat that item, then add another one to the list. After a while, the list would be quite long, and the loser would be the person who failed to list all the items in the right order.
As I looked at my precious books, I couldn’t help wondering: if I was to spend a year on a desert island, which three I’d pick? I was limited only to paperbacks and hardcovers, as an e-book reader would be useless without electricity, and to my surprise, instead of pondering the choices for hours, my list presented itself in an instant.


The first book on my list would definitely be HYPERION by Dan Simmons. I wrote about it in the last year’s (2016) A to Z challenge, and even though it’s been a while since I read it, this book still lives in my memory, and I have no trouble to conjure images and scenes from it in my head. Actually, taking it with me to a desert island would be a perfect opportunity for another re-read that is long overdue.

A bit weathered (traveling overseas in a post box is not kind too books) Polish hardcover edition of HYPERION. I have a Polish paperback version too, but it’s still in Poland. This one also has a very special dedication from my friend.

The second choice was obvious too: a collection of Bolesław Leśmian’s poems. He was a Polish poet born at the end of the 19th century, and his poems range from beautiful and very tasteful erotica, to folkore-inspired, to metaphysical pondering about life, death, and God. His usage of words painted beautiful, touching images, and in my youth I made an effort to learn many of them by heart. Reading the collection would suffice for a year of discovery and both poetic and linguistic pleasure.

As Leśmian was a master of words and using them creatively (”the golden eyes of pansies shod around with a sapphire bruise” is one of the simpler examples), he’s not easy to translate, but I’ve found several poems online, if you’d like a taste of his poetry. HAPPINESS is one of my favorites, and so is the series starting with ANGELS. I also like WERE I TO MEET YOU AGAIN FOR THE FIRST TIME.

15 years ago or so, I managed to find a complete collection of Leśmian’s poetry – a finding that made me very happy. What you can’t see in the picture is a collection of small green post-its sticking from the top: they mark my favorite poems.

The third book I’d take with me is LÓD (ICE) by Jacek Dukaj. This is a brilliant 1000 page book set in an alternate Europe that was permanently frozen by a fall of a mysterious meteorite in Syberia. I love Dukaj’s stories because they mix physics and philosophy with interesting worldbuilding and engaging stories, and Lód is one of his books I haven’t finished yet. It’s not because of the volume, but because somewhere halfway through it I realized that I don’t want to get to the ending. I felt that if I stopped reading it mid-way, it’d be as if I still lived in the world he created instead of leaving it when the word “END” appeared on the page. So, a year on a desert island would be perfect to finish this story, and then probably start it over again. I know this is another book in Polish, which might be unfair to my English-speaking readers, but here’s the good news: Head of Zeus has bought the rights to translation, so hopefully in a couple of years you’ll be able to experience Dukaj’s creativity as well. Until then, one of his shorter works, Old Axolotl, was already translated, and it might be a good taste of his prose.

1000 pages: that’s really a brick disguised as a book. And, funny enough, I have two identical copies of this book (plus an ebook version for easier reading), and both have made it with me to the US. Why? Well, that’s a story for another post.

So here are my choices for a year on a desert island, and before I ask you about yours, let’s make it a game and a blog hop to spread the fun.

The rules:

  • You’re only allowed to pick from the print books (paperbacks or hardcovers) you currently own. (So, no ebooks, because there’s no power on the desert island, and no going through your wishlist, because you’re leaving tomorrow. 😉 )
  • You’re only allowed three books (no cheating!), so choose wisely. A trilogy counts as three books, unless you have a “compiled” edition (and a picture to prove it 😉 ).
  • Feel free to post pictures of your books.
  • Tag as many people as you want to pass the fun further (or don’t tag anyone).
  • You can grab the graphic from me (click on the image below to download it in a larger size) or make your own, and even though you don’t have to link back to me, I’d appreciate it.

Other than that, just have fun!

I’m tagging:

  • Sara Higbee (she has so many books, it should be a pleasant torture to try to pick three!)
  • Sara Letorneau (I spelled your surname right the first time I tried!)
  • JR Bee (who won’t be able to pick all the Harry Potter since there’s more than three books)
  • Lucy Jayne (who doesn’t blog often enough, so here’s some encouragement)
  • Myk Pilgrim (who is likely change it into a vlog rather than post, but it’s all about fun, isn’t it?)
  • Sheri Williams (who’s always looking for topics to blog about).
  • I also would like to invite my Polish friends, Agnieszka Hałas and Aleksandra Janusz, who sometimes blog in English, to join in.

If I didn’t tag you, but you still want to take part: feel free! The more of us, the more fun!

Joanna Maciejewska

Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games. Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English. Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.

This Post Has 10 Comments

    1. melfka

      No timeline, Sheri, it’s supposed to be a relaxed fun. 🙂 Do it today or in a year’s time – whenever it suits you!

  1. J.R.Bee

    Who said It would be Harry Potter I would choose? I was just hoping to pick three really long series (Pratchett) that would last.

    1. melfka

      I SAID IT! 😉 And you didn’t choose it. 😛

      1. J.R.Bee

        Yeah, I couldn’t just pick ONE Harry Potter 😀

  2. sjhigbee

    Ahh… I came across the tweet about this before encountering this article – I’ll actually make it a proper post and will ignore the Desert Island rule that you are also allowed the Complete Works of Shakespeare and the Bible – I would insist on the King James version, of course… But it does somewhat change things… Thank you for volunteering me… I think. You are right, though – it is going to be torture!

    1. melfka

      I think there’s a book with all Shakespeare’s works, and the Bible is one book too, so you’re good. 😉
      I can’t wait to see your selection – after all, it’s only for one year, not forever (I wouldn’t manage “forever” with only 3 books!).

  3. saraletourneau

    Ohhhhhhhh this is going to be BRUTAL. XD Although I think I already know one nice omnibus I’d take with me, so I’ll make sure to take a photo to prove I own it. 😉 So thank you for nominating me! I’m not sure when I’ll get to it, but I’ll put it in the queue for future drafting.

    The Dukaj novel sounds really interesting. I’ll have to keep an eye for the English-language translation, though I imagine that might not be out for a year or so…?

    1. melfka

      Take your time, Sara, when it comes to the challenge. And I hope you’re going to have fun picking! 😛 (Ok, who am I kidding?)
      As for Dukaj, House of Zeus didn’t announce any date yet, and yeah, translating those 1000 pages can take a while. But when it gets to English market, I’ll probably be shouting about it really loud ;). It’s a very ambitious novel: Dukaj is a stunning worldbuilder and word-crafter (he invents words as needed to reflect the realities he creates), and he’s also a philosopher with some in-depth knowledge of physics, so it’s not your regular “let’s just skim over things to give the reader action” novel, but it’s a real feast. In one of the scenes, two characters engage in a discussion about how words can create the truth, and it ends up with them telling their life stories over and over again: each time differently, each time more daring.

      1. saraletourneau

        Actually, I now know two of the books I would pick for the tag. 😉 And a novel doesn’t necessarily have to have action for me to want to read it. I’ll definitely keep my eyes open for Dukaj.

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