Tagan Shepard’s Desert Island Books
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.
My Book Choices
Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
Genre: F/F YA
I read this book at least once a year at home, so I have no doubt it would be the first comfort read I’d dive into on a desert island. It’s YA with an adorable queer lead. She’s a bit of a mess, and I love that about her. It’s also a choose your own adventure style with five endings, each a different genre—cozy mystery, spy thriller, paranormal, sci-fi, and fantasy. Each one builds the characters and the world in delightful ways and I can never get enough these stories.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Genre: Dystopic (mostly het, but with a queer side character)
If you watched the movie adaptation of this, you didn’t really get the story. I love this book so much that part of the cover is tattooed on my arm. (I have a half-sleeve I call my “arm of nerd”) This book’s world is rich and amazing and lets me relive my youth. This is another book I read once a year and I’d love to live inside the OASIS for the rest of time.
Backwards to Oregon by Jae
Genre: F/F historical fiction
Jae is a legend and Backwards is a masterpiece. It’s like living inside a queer round of The Oregon Trail, and, as a kid who played countless hours of that game as a kid, downloaded an emulator on my laptop so I could play the original version now, and even bought the card game version, this book is everything.
He Shall Thunder in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Genre: historical mystery (100% het, but strong ladies)
This is the 12th book in the Amelia Peabody series. The whole series is worth a read, but this one is the actual best. The series is set in turn of the century Egypt among the amateur archaeologist community. Amelia is a force of nature and her son, Ramses, is one of my favorite heroes of all time. This particular book is set during World War One, but the real focus is the love story between Ramses and his future wife, Nefret. A word of warning—the series was written between the 1980s and mid-2010s and some of the early books have some troubling characterizations around body size and there is some element of white saviorism.
Reaping the Benefits by EJ Noyes
Genre: F/F romance/supernatural elements
EJ has a real banger here. The story is about Jane, who finds out that her super hot boss happens to be Death’s Head Minion and that her own death is imminent. She wrangles this knowledge into a deal to get her Bucket List sorted and fun, sexy times ensue. Such a lovely book AND there is a follow up short story in the short story collection, Save the Date. (I also happen to have a story in Save the Date, so I would highly recommend the collection).
Breaking Character by Lee Winter
Genre: F/F Romance
This is just a master study in character development and I, like so many readers in our genre, absolutely adore an ice queen. The type of ice queen I particularly like is the misunderstood variety, and that’s what you get here. Plus one of the steamiest kiss scenes I’ve ever read. I’m a sucker for the kiss scene. The sex is great, but writing a truly passionate kiss that makes you gasp a little when you read it? That’s the really good stuff.
Not Guilty by Brit Ryder (Kris Bryant)
Genre: F/F erotica
Look, being alone on a desert island—you’re gonna want something steamy to take you through those long nights. No one better than Emery and Claire to help carry you through, right?
Devil’s Rock by Gerri Hill
Genre: F/F mystery/romance
I don’t think I could survive without some Gerri Hill on my island and this is one of my favorites by her. She’s masterful at slowly unveiling the mystery and the romance. And this story is so tactile. You can feel the environment—the dust and the heat and the rocks. You get right in there with the leads and it makes the big reveal even better.
My song choice
“Waiting Game” by BANKS
I don’t listen to a ton of music because a song needs to have a strong story for me to have any interest in it. This fills that requirement while also being sexy as hell. It feels almost hypnotic and her voice gets me every time.
My inanimate object choice
A KACO Pure soft touch retractable gel ink pen 0.5mm fine point
Yes, that is ridiculously specific for a pen, but that’s the kind of pen person I am. It’s the perfect pen. It’s fine enough to make that scratchy noise when you write, but the gel doesn’t smear nearly as bad as most gel pens. They also come in really lively, solid colors (though the ink is black) which make them fun to write with. Also the clicky part (technical term) is the perfect tension and the barrel of the pen in soft enough that it doesn’t hurt to hold. That’s important because I’m a really tight pen gripper.