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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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!
- 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 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.