My Five Desert Island Books

To celebrate World Book Day 2020, I thought I would share 5 of my desert island books. These are books that, if I was told I would be stranded on a desert island for the rest of my life, I would pick today.

I was thinking about choosing my 5 favourite books of all time, but it’s very difficult to determine how you define your favourite books of all time. Are these ones that you read again and again? Are they books that have deeply impacted you? Are they books that have stayed with you since the first time you picked them up? Is it about how they’re written, or the themes included? There’s so many options!

The books I have chosen are ones that I continue to return to, that I’m happy to have on my shelf and I’m always keen to recommend and talk about. Whether insightful and thought-provoking tales, beautifully written or edge-of-your-seat stories, these are books that I’d certainly pack into my bag for a desert-island destination.

Books, and the stories held within them, are so powerful. I hope you can find some time today (and every day!) to enjoy a book and the incomparable pleasure of reading.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Here I go again. I’ve spoken about The Happiness Project on this blog more times than I care to count – but, for good reason. It remains one of my favourite books to read and it has done since about 2010/2011 when I first picked it up. I tend to read it at least once a year and it feels like a cross between a warm hug and an interesting chat with a friend.

I just love the way it’s written and how Rubin takes a realistic approach to re-evaluating her life and taking proactive steps to make positive changes. I’m all about appreciating what you’ve got but setting yourself challenges and stepping outside of your comfort zone to make life more exciting and enjoyable, so this book perfectly encapsulates that for me.

If you’re looking for achievable ways to boost your daily life, I cannot recommend this book enough (clearly).

Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

This book started my love affair with Everest, and rebooted my love for the outdoors in general. That might sound odd considering the fact that it’s such a harrowing, traumatic tale – but this book continues to renew my respect and admiration for the natural world around us, and the power it holds.

Into Thin Air is the personal account of the 1996 Everest disaster in which 8 climbers were killed during a terrible storm on the mountain. It’s such a raw, honest retelling of the event and so interesting to understand the logistics and realities of taking on an incredible force of nature. It just blows my mind every time I read it.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

I love books that let you into a totally different world than your own – and When Breath Becomes Air is a perfect example of this. The autobiographical piece is about a neurosurgeon who discovers he has lung cancer.

Honestly, this book broke my heart. It’s an incredible insight into Kalanithi’s life and the realities of continuing on once you discover that you have such a terrible illness. Paul comes across as such an intelligent and warm person, and I immediately took to his story. It’s beautifully written and so painfully open, you just won’t want the book to end.

Come Closer by Sara Gran

I am absolutely infatuated with how this book is written. I’ve been searching for months to find another book that’s written in a similar way with a creeping sense of unease and impending horror.

The book follows a woman, Amanda, who starts hearing strange noises in her house and slowly descends into an all-encompassing state of psychosis that feels so real, yet otherworldly. It’s a short and sharp, but deliciously fluid book that takes you on the journey of Amanda’s transformation into a completely new being. I could just devour this book.

Afraid by Jack Kilborn

This is a slightly different type of book for me as it’s a full on horror-thriller read that is bloody, terrifying and brutal in parts. Although I’m very much into horror films, I don’t typically read many books within the genre. I used to read a lot of crime and thriller books, but none have stuck with me quite as well as Afraid has.

The story follows a small town whose peaceful community is completely overturned by the arrival of some less-than-friendly characters who have been programmed to kill anything in their path. Nice!

It’s a fast-paced, gory read that, after each chapter, leaves you wondering what horrendous act is going to happen next. If you can handle the blood-thirsty violence then this is a pretty fun read that lets your imagination wreak havoc.

What would your desert island reads be?

Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear about them and why they are so important to you!


  1. There are a few books I can read over and over–A Farewell to Arms by Hemingway is one. On Writing Well by William Zinsser, and Tom Sawyer. I don’t know what else–maybe Moby Dick since I’d be surround by ocean. And the Old Man and the Sea seems fitting.

    1. Those are great choices! I do think there’s certain books that would definitely be more fitting (or useful) for a desert island – but I always end up going for my long time favourites. I just couldn’t be without them!

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