Wednesday 7 September 2011

Desert Island Books

A while ago I was challenged to write a blog on another platform - the five books I'd take to a desert island. In the time allocated I wrote My Five Favourite Books and I was quite pleased with the result. Throw in Scrabble and a literate Fred the crab and I'd be set for, well, days.

This is in my mind at the moment as I have to get rid of some books. The piles of books have piles of books on top of them. The dining table no longer serves its allotted role in life and meals are a bit less civilised. I don't remember buying many books lately. I've been given some (six Jo Nesbo, thank you Marian) and I've passed on a load to a friend - so where are the buggers coming from?

Is a sneaky Stuart MacBride tanking up on lager and Scotch and risking advances to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo? Are their unholy offspring shoving books out of shelves and hiding, some sniggering, others deathly quiet, waiting their moment to leap out and kneecap a Hell's Angel?

Am I just prevaricating?

Picking five books for the desert island was a challenge - picking fifty to send to a new home is a bit like giving your pet cat away. You agonise for days, you make sure it's going to a lover of cats, you tearfully take it to its new life - and off it bounds without a backward glance. Two-acre garden with a stream - my back yard was good enough for fighting and copulation at night in the past, you ungrateful little bugger!

So, what's going? Will I ever read Le Carré again? Those two grant-aided first efforts from Northern Irish authors? (Sorry lads, close but no cigar. Actually, not so close.) The Dick Francis I keep for guests? Does anyone like the forelock-tugging, formulaic Francis now that the Queen Mother is dead? How about the secret shame of my shelves - a Julie Birchill - 5p from a charity shop and you feel dirty looking at the cover, never mind reading the mannered prose, and I do mean "prose".

That's a dozen, just about, and all are on shelves. That'll make room for the new John Connolly and a couple of Zolas that I found recently - translations, my French is nowhere near the task of reading the originals. Yes, this is going to be a success. Hang on while I knock the crumbs of my lunch out of the keyboard, then I'll look for a couple more to give away. Thomas Perry and Christopher Brookmyre, say your prayers.

I'll give long odds against anyone guessing the five favourite books for the desert island - nip over and see if you agree.


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