East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

The Desert Island Whatever, part one – books

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desert-island-adsThere is this game, you know about it of course. It’s the Desert Island Whatever… books, records, movies…

The idea is, you are stranded on a desert island, what books (or records, or movies) do you bring with you?

Now, let’s look at the thing from another perspective: you are sitting in a room filled with books, just like the one in which I’m sitting, and in a short while, say two or three weeks, you will have to take it to the road, and you’ll be able to carry with you just a small box filled with books, that you’ll be able to park somewhere – your uncle’s house, for instance.
All the rest you will have to leave behind.
What do you take with you?

I’ve been playing this game, that is still just a game, in the last few days, and it’s as hard as hell.
Because if you are a book lover, and you grew up with books, you have a connection with each and every book in your library, and losing them, or leaving them behind, is a soul-rending experience.
But anyway, let’s play the game.

First of all, of course, I cheat: I own a Kindle, I can bring TONS of ebooks with me, inmy pocket. Once my finances are a little bit healthier I might consider investing in a more advanced model, one with more storage space. But for the time being, my Kindle allows me to have with me thousands of books I love.

But let’s play the game, I was saying.
What do I bring along, what do I put in my box?


  • The Everyman editions of the Ray Bradbury Short Stories
  • The Everyman editions of the Roald Dahl Short Stories
  • The Everyman editions of the Flashman Novels by George MacDonald Fraser
  • The Complete Short Stories of Roger Zelazny (I still miss two volumes, and I want to complete the series before I die)
  • The Collected Harlan Ellison
  • The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe
  • The Collected Harold Lamb (again, I miss three volumes, and I’ll complete the collection sooner or later)
  • Frank Herbert’s Dune
  • The Master Li and Number Ten Ox stories by Barry Hughart
  • Rats & Gargoyles by Mary Gentle
  • The Weird by J. & A. VanDerMeer
  • Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast Trilogy

Non Fiction

  • The Complete Taoist Classics in Four Volumes, Shambhala Edition
  • Cosmos by Carl Sagan
  • Silk Road: Monks, Warriors and Merchants, by Luce Boulnois
  • The Desert Road to Turkestan and High Tartary by Owen Lattimore & Turkestan Reunion by Eleanor Holgate Lattimore
  • Annals of the Former World by John McPhee
  • The Golden Peaches of Samarkand by Paul H. Schafer
  • Wonderbook by Jeff VanDerMeer
  • Seeing Through Statistics by Jennifer Hutts
  • The Art of Robert McGinnis
  • Archaeology by Renfrew & Bahn
  • The Making of Indiana Jones

And as I am at it, I throw in the complete Trinity RPG, Adventure! and my Savage Worlds books. And what the heck, the 7th Sea Second Edition core book.

And the complete poetry of John Donne.

Which makes for a pretty heavy crate of volumes, but what the heck, it’s my desert island, I take what I please, as long as it fits in a crate.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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