How can I pick just 3? Amy Barker reflects

I guess you could say I’m not much of a social reader as I don’t belong to any book clubs or online book review web sites. I haven’t found a book club that was both convenient for me and that read the kinds of books that I like. I guess the books I read aren’t the normal book club fodder (I read mostly nonfiction, genre fiction and YA) I’ve tried some of the online book communities but none of them have stuck. What I do is share a Pinterest board with a couple of friends with similar reading tastes and we all pin books that we find interesting.

Photo 'On the platform, reading' by Mo Riza under CC license

Photo ‘On the platform, reading’ by Mo Riza under CC license

What books would I take to a desert island? I would have to take at least one of the Harry Potter books, one of the big fat ones. I know these books are a bit clichéd any more, but I still love them. I would also to take a book of Shel Silverstien poetry, probably Where the Sidewalk Ends. I have enjoyed his work since I was a child and am always drawn back to the joy, wonder and insight his poetry brings.I love poetry for so many reasons and cannot imagine living without it. There’s a great quote by John F Kennedy on poetry:

When power narrows the area of man’s concern, poetry reminds him of the richness and diversity of his existence. When power corrupts, poetry cleanses

And just to have at least one adult book I would probably take something my Kurt Vonnegut. he dances that line between science fiction and pulp fiction. He’s one of the few authors that I’ve read over and over again. (Actually, can I take all of his books? Would that be cheating?) If I have to pick one it would be Breakfast of Champions…no, wait, I think it would be Cat’s Cradle…oh no, how could I not bring Slaughterhouse Five?

When it comes to the question of e books vs. print, I do both. Being in Australia we can’t always get the latest releases in print right away but sometime we can in electronic form. Also, I have a Kindle and tend to take it with me when I travel. (Its great for travel guides!). When I worked in the public library I got a little less precious about fiction paperbacks as I mostly read things I could get from work. The physical print books I tend to buy these days tend to be more image heavy because I still don’t think the images in e books have the same quality an the print versions.

-Amy Barker ILN Program Coordinator (who loves nothing more than a great book on a rainy day)

One comment

  1. Roger Hawcroft · · Reply

    I think that to separate out just 3 books, for anyone who loves reading and has read widely, is really an impossibility. Oh, sure, we can nominate 3 books – but are they really *the* 3 which we’d most like to have. Even Amy suggests that she couldn’t really make up her mind about the Vonnegut and any of his books is superior to the twaddle of Harry Potter.

    Even amongst books written for children, there is so much that is more worthwhile than the Potter fantasies. Authors such as Maurice Sendak, Fiona French, Raymond Briggs, Annette McArthur-Onslow, Charles Dodgson, Ruth Park, Judy Blume, Mem Fox, Coin Thiele, Leon Garfield – and so many more.

    Another problem is that writing has such a long history. Books we might choose today may not have existed yesterday and similarly, tomorrow there will be books that *could* encompass anything that has impressed us before.

    How can we go without Herodotus, Sun Tzu, Shakespeare, Gibbons’, Sopholes, Voltaire, de Beavoir, Sartre, and ….

    When I try to undertake this exercise I become hopelessly confused, just as I would if asked to choose my 3 favourite songs or pieces of music. Or even poetry, which Amy says she must have, and I can understand and appreciate that – but just one poet?

    Again, oh please – how do I choose amongst, Blake, Keats, Cohen, Wilfred Owen, Dylan, Burns, Shakespeare, Ted Hughes, Longfellow,and Ezra Pound, to name but a few who have enriched my life and aroused my senses, as well as stimulating my mind and thought processes.

    And all this still leaves aside the amazing predictions and often social commentary of the SF writers such as Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, and he master, Isaac Asimov.

    Then, leaving all those aside there are more contemporary writers of fiction and non-fiction of import such as: Braine, Bratby, Sillitoe, D.H. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, Russell Hoban and Knut Hamsun.

    It only just scratches the surface and doesn’t at all take into account semi-scholarly marvels such as “Whte-fella jump up” of Germaine Greer; Fire with Fire by Naomi Wolfe; The myth of women’s masochism by by Paula Caplan and ….

    Then there are all the brilliant short stories and novellas from Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea through to Henry Lawson, & Banjo Paterson, not to mention the work of early female stalwarts such as Caroline Chisholm and Louisa Lawson.

    So, I apologise – I just can’t choose – however, if my life depended on it ….

    “The Litte Prince” by St Exupery – for its charm and fascination and yet profound assessment of how human beings behave.

    “The Old man and the sea” by Ernest Hemingway – for he knew how to make every word essential

    ” The Wind blows away our words” by Doris Lessing – for she feels and projects that feeling so deeply and empathetically that it puts life into perpective.

    Sorry to be long-winded. Thank you for the stimulus.

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