Desert Island Library

5 July 2018:  These are my current desert island books. They are the ones I’d like washed up onto the shore in a large waterproof trunk!  And you could probably fit 100 paperbacks into a large trunk.

I’ll update this list as the mood and new books read take me, but it’ll stay at 100 (or fewer).


  1. 4 3 2 1 by Paul Auster
  2. All Quiet on the Orient Express by Magnus Mills
  3. An awfully big adventure by Beryl Bainbridge  (1st of 3)
  4. Beowulf by Seamus Heaney – in the side by side version
  5. Beryl Bainbridge: Artist, Writer, Friend by Psiche Hughes (a super biography full of Beryl’s own art)
  6. Blindness by Jose Saramago
  7. Blood Red, Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick
  8. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin – memoir
  9. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  10. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable – my one indispensible reference book
  11. Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
  12. Complete works by William Shakespeare,
  13. Diaries 1969-1970: The Python Years by Michael Palin – memoir/diaries
  14. Dirty Snow by Georges Simenon – one of the ‘romans durs
  15. Donovan’s Brain by Curt Siodmak – SF/Psych horror!
  16. Double Indemnity by James M Cain – Perfect noir
  17. Fiesta: The sun also rises by Ernest Hemingway, Ernest
  18. Flowers for Algernon by Keyes, Daniel
  19. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
  20. Golden Hill by Francis Spufford
  21. Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton, Patrick
  22. Harvest by Jim Crace
  23. Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
  24. Here lies Arthur by Philip Reeve – Arthurian YA with a twist
  25. High fidelity by Nick Hornby
  26. I Claudius & Claudius the God (omnibus) by Robert Graves
  27. In a Summer Season by Elizabeth Taylor
  28. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  29. The Last Pilot by Benjamin Johncock
  30. Let the Right One in by John Ajvide Lindqvist – modern vampires!
  31. Lightning Rods by Helen DeWitt
  32. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  33. Magda by Meike Ziervogel – Mrs Goebbels
  34. Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr – my fave children’s book ever!
  35. Mend the Living by Maylis de Kerangal
  36. Miss Pettigrew lives for a day by Winifred Watson, Winifred
  37. Moby Dick by Herman Melville – earns its place as the greatest influencer
  38. Mr Loverman by Bernardine Evaristo
  39. Mrs Bridge by Evan S Connell
  40. Never let me go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  41. No minor chords by Andre Previn – a delightful Hollywood memoir
  42. Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
  43. Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
  44. The Quiet American by Graham Greene
  45. Peyton Place by Grace Metalious,
  46. Revolution in the Head: The Beatles’ Records & the Sixties by Ian MacDonald
  47. Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
  48. Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey – Yee Haw!
  49. Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow – Werewolves in plain verse
  50. Slow Horses by Mick Herron – 1st in the best spy series
  51. Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
  52. Sweet William by Beryl Bainbridge
  53. Tender is the night by F Scott Fitzgerald
  54. Tepper isn’t going out by Calvin Trillin,
  55. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  56. The Ballad of Peckham Rye by Muriel Spark
  57. The Barrytown Trilogy (for The Van) by Roddy Doyle
  58. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
  59. The Bottle Factory Outing by Beryl Bainbridge, Beryl
  60. The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
  61. The Concert Ticket by Olga Grushin
  62. The Crow Road by Iain Banks (1st of 3)
  63. The Darling Buds of May by HE Bates – Perfick!
  64. The Death of Grass by John Christopher, John
  65. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
  66. The Explorer by James Smythe (Book group hated it, I loved it)
  67. The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw
  68. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters by GW Dahlquist – bonkers!
  69. The Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervun Peake
  70. The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald
  71. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Omnibus edition) by Douglas Adams
  72. The Hopkins Manuscript by RC Sheriff
  73. The House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski
  74. The Killer Inside Me by Jim Thompson – super-noir!
  75. The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
  76. The Mask of Dimitrios by Eric Ambler
  77. The master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  78. The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster – in my top few books.
  79. The Night Watch by Sarah Waters
  80. The Player of Games  by Iain (M) Banks
  81. The Prestige by Christopher PriestSisters Brothers Patrick DeWitt
  82. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
  83. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  84. The sacred art of stealing  by Christopher Brookmyre
  85. The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole age 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend
  86. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
  87. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
  88. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
  89. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold by John Le Carre
  90. The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
  91. The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks – one of the best debuts ever.
  92. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner
  93. Tin Man by Sarah Winman – very moving
  94. To the Ends of the Earth (trilogy) by William Golding
  95. To Throw away unopened by Viv Albertine – best memoir of 2018, so angry, so brilliant
  96. True Grit by Charles Portis
  97. We by Yevgeny Zamyatin,
  98. We have always lived in the castle by Shirley Jackson
  99. Why be happy when you could be normal? by Jeanette Winterson  – memoir
  100. Winter’s bone by Daniel Woodrell

Books that have come off the list:

  • A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  • My Policeman by Bethan Roberts
  • Remarkable creatures byTracy Chevalier
  • Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch