The Writers' Group to which I belong has suggested that we all bring a list of the five books we would take to a desert island for the next meeting. I have thought about it, and have made my list.
I always think with Desert Island Discs you never know whether the eight records chosen are really the ones they want or whether there is an element of choosing what will make you look good in the eyes of listeners. I suppose the same applies to my list, so I assure you that these are my most favoured books.
John Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley." I never tire of reading it. I am a dog-lover, as was Steinbeck and I just love every moment of the book, made all the more poignant because he wrote it not so very long before he died.
Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited." I am now on my fourth copy of this book, having lent the previous three to various friends who have never returned them! I have lost count of how many times I have read it, but each time I feel like I am reading it for the first time. I find more in it. I love all of his books, but this one smacks of a lost era and I feel that Waugh had got it wrong to some extent, because the war did not see the end of these aristocratic families - they opened their homes up to the public, opened theme parks, safari parks etc., and carried on as they had always done!
The Collected Poems of Edwin Morgan. It is worth taking this for just two of the poems in it - Heron and Kierkegaard's Song - two of the best wildlife poems ever written, I think. And his "Epilogue. Seven Decades" strikes such a chord with me - I would probably keep it open on my mossy bedside on the desert island, for constant reference.
John Lister-Kaye's "Nature's Child" would be my fourth choice. It can be read as separate chapters, so I could pick it up and put it down at will. Each chapter is an episode in the life of Lister-Kaye and his daughter as they search for and observe wildlife. It is enchanting - maybe the best chapter is the one on the stormy petrels.
Finally I would take my father's dog-eared, tattered copy of Palgrave's Golden Treasury. It is well-thumbed and full of the kind of poetry we have heard from our childhood. If I forgot any of the words of "On a favourite cat drowned in a tub of goldfishes" (which I learned by heart when I was about ten years old) I could look them up and re-learn them. Who can forget learning "Oh what can ail thee knight at arms, alone and palely loitering!" when they were at school?
So - there are my five. I would love my blogging friends to tell me their five choices - perhaps I would end up with a reading list for the rest of the year. We all seem kindred spirits - so presumably we should like each other's reading choices. So - what would you choose?