Based on the BBC radio programme ‘Desert Island Discs’, we’ve adapted this idea to ask castaways to list up to eight books, one song and one luxury item that they couldn’t do without on a desert island.
The rules are fairly simple, any type of book can be selected, but we ask that at least half are lesfic. Choices should be justified in a paragraph or two. Any type of music is allowed. The luxury item must be inanimate and of no use in escaping the island or allowing communication from outside.
Elna Holst's Desert Island Books
My book choices
Garoul Series by Gill McKnight
It might be cheating to sneak in a whole series, but I never get tired of re-reading these. Werewolves, UST, humour, and out-and-out craziness—they’re just a wild ride.
Aurora’s Angel by Emily Noon
Epic love story with shapeshifters, fantasy creatures, an alternative world, scales and fur and feathers galore. I inhaled this book on first reading it—which meant, considering it’s 650 pages long, I stayed up all night and read the last chapters while the birds had started their morning serenade outside. Oops.
Thorn by Anna Burke
This is such a beautiful, multi-layered narrative: a sapphic retelling of Beauty and the Beast, it transcends all my efforts at summing up the plot—exactly the kind of book that will serve me well on a desert island, as it can be read and re-read endlessly without losing its shine. The winter theme will be great for cooling down too. Strategic thinking.
Carol by Patricia Highsmith
Or Claire Morgan’s The Price of Salt—call it what you will, Highsmith’s limpid prose and nuanced psychological portrayals make this classic lesbian romance eminently re-readable.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Yeah, I more or less know this one by heart, but I still need it to keep me company.
Why Don’t You Stop Talking by Jackie Kay
Short story writing at its finest: this is one of my all-time favourite books that fills me with awe and laughter and sorrow and elation, all jumbled together.
Complete Fairy Tales by HC Andersen
The ones from my grandfather’s shelf, with all the Danish sadness, distress, and beauty intact.
Collected Poetry by Edith Södergran
A Finnish-Swedish favourite from my moody teens—and really, a desert island is the ultimate place to bring poetry to. Plus, a lot of white space I might use for my own devices… Told you I’m sneaky like that. Stina Katchadourian’s selected translations in Love & Solitude are a great introduction if you want to give them a try.
My song choice
Bringing just the one song means I’ll forego vocals: something instrumental is required if it’s going to be the only thing I can listen to, day in and day out. I considered Vivaldi or Pachelbel first, before settling on Kai Engel’s Great Expectations. We chose this one as the soundtrack for my own stranded-on-a-desert-island novella In the Palm’s Youtube trailer, so it seems a fitting track to listen to ad infinitum… You can find it via the Free Music Archive.
My inanimate object choice
I’m not going to be original here, let’s face it: you’re asking writers what they cannot do without. I need my fountain pen. I guess I’ll have to find some way to make ”paper” (although I do have those white spaces I provided myself within the Books section), and when my ink runs out, it’s going to get messy. Still, I figure there will at least be the possibility of turning something into ink (note to self: read up on rudimentary ink making in case of emergency). Also, I could try my hand at doing the whole message-in-a-bottle type thing, maybe by fashioning a tiny wooden boat as a vessel for my ”Help! I’m stranded. Send coffee and snus!” note—but that would be cheating again, wouldn’t it?