Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I'd Want on a Desert Island

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish, a blog to which I contribute. Everyone is welcome to join in!

This week's 'top ten' topic is, Top Ten Books I'd Want on a Desert Island!

Here's my list...

1. The Harry Potter series: I count this because there's a paperback set that fits in one box. There is nothing about this series that is old to me. I've re-read each book countless times, and I would be hard-pressed to get sick of this series.

2. The Qur'an: I'm a (former) Religion major, and my concentration was on Islam. However, I've never read the Qur'an straight through, and I really want to! I keep putting it off, reading only chapters at a time. A desert island would give me the opportunity to work through the entire volume. As an added bonus, almost all Qur'an have the Arabic calligraphy, so if I get really bored I can continue my efforts to speak Arabic aloud!

East of Eden (John Steinbeck): This is one of my favorite books of all time, with rich characters, a beautiful setting, and fantastic themes and symbols. This book is chillingly good.

The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas): I read this last summer—the unabridged version—and I loved it. I really savored it, and enjoyed Edmond Dantes as the hero of the book. I also like the theme of prevailing despite the circumstances! Plus, long books like The Count of Monte Cristo and East of Eden would keep me sane.

The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand): When else but on a desert island would it be a fantastic idea to read a book about the individuality of self and Objectivism? Well, actually, maybe that's not the best idea. But it's a long book, and a thought-provoking one—so I'm told—so it sounds like a good idea.

The Art of Racing in the Rain (Garth Stein): I would bring this book because it's a contemporary novel—unlike many of the others on my list so far—and it covers almost every human emotion. This book made me simultaneously sad and happy, and I absolutely loved it.

Why I Wake Early (Mary Oliver): A volume of poetry is never a bad thing. Oliver's poetry would remind me of the beauty around me.

8. Any of the
Little House on the Prairie books: I cannot define my youth without thinking of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books. Perfect for keeping me sane.

Redwall (Brian Jacques): I almost forgot about this series. I used to read this series religiously. Who doesn't love warrior mice, royal badgers, and evil villains?

Season of Migration to the North (Tayeb Salih): I would bring this book to remind me of history and imperialism. I read this book for a class two years ago (and actually plan to read it later this summer—watch for my review!), but I would definitely want a stimulating, brutal novel to read like this one.


  1. You know, it's interesting that you put the Qur'an down on your list. I'm still in the process of writing mine, and I've got the Tanakh (the Jewish Bible) on my list, for the exact same reasons you have the Qur'an on yours: I was a Religious Studies major (for a while) also, with an emphasis in Judaism. I've been fascinated with it ever since I was a kid and saw the musical Fiddler on the Roof.

    May I ask what drew you to study Islam?


  2. Hey Snickers! Great to hear from you. I've actually studied Judaism in depth—Christianity being the weakest of my studies—so that's really interesting. I've read most of the Tanakh already though.

    I knew a fair number of Muslims at my high school and I had a fantastic teacher (former Marine who served in the early '90s Gulf War). In class we talked about the conquering empires in the Middle East, and I spent an entire paper looking at the connection between religion and current events (in 10th grade). Then when I came to college, I decided I wanted to learn more about Islam, which also led me to study Arabic. (Which then, as you know, led me to study abroad in Egypt!) I'm not personally religious, so I'm definitely not considering conversion, but I think Islam has beautiful traditions and expressions, just like any other religion.

    What major did you end up going with?

  3. I swear, The Harry Potter series is a must for a desert island.

  4. I ended up going with Economics. It's kind of a far cry from religious studies, but I have a predominately Jewish school, Brandeis University, as a backup in case I'm not able to transfer to the school I want. I could take as many Judaism classes as I'd like and still be an econ major. :D

    I was raised Christian, so for me it's a fairly simple study. Catholicism is the hard one for me.

    How hard did you find Arabic to learn? My belly dance teacher was more or less self-taught, and she said it's probably one of the harder languages to learn because there's so many dialects.

  5. Ergh, Economics. My friend is actually an Econ major at Brandeis too! Brandeis and my alma mater, the University of Rochester, are pretty similar in student body composite, classes offered, and size.

    Ahh. I'm a non-practicing (and I guess I should also say, non-believing) Catholic, so that's not too difficult for me. Protestantism is a bit of a mystery to me still, but it's fun to learn about.

    I didn't find Arabic hard to learn at all, but I really love languages. (I originally started out as a Political Science and Spanish double major, and I was already fluent in Spanish.) In terms of speaking Arabic, that gets tougher. I took Modern Standard Arabic, which is what you read in newspapers and books, but nobody speaks it! Egyptian Arabic is relatively easy to learn because it's well-understood around the Arab-speaking world; they have an industry similar to Bollywood, so people watch a lot of Egyptian soap operas, haha. If you like unusual alphabets or have taken any classes that deal with Hebrew, you should be fine, since Hebrew and Arabic are very similar in terms of grammar (though obviously not in alphabet!).