Books on an Island

Leather Books with LadderIn my younger years, I dreamed of buying an island and declaring it a sovereign nation.

To some degree, I still hold this fantasy.

My fledgling state is entirely self-sufficient, meaning that no-one need ever leave.

I mean, why would the even want to, right?

Among many as-of-yet-undetermined admittance requirements, one stands out:

Each citizen must provide five books to the public library.


Giving credit where credit is due, I am obviously not the first person to hypothesis what books one would desire on an island. Specifically, I am indebted to The Christian Humanist Podcast episode 66: Desert Island Books, which challenged listeners to pick five books to take with them on a desert island. As with most hypothetical games of this nature, there are a few ground rules:

1. The Bible is given

If you so desire you may have any version/language/translation

I’ll alter this somewhat to allow your own preferred religious text

2. Anything you can find in a single volume counts

This means books must be physical copies!

3. The library is communal, meaning that we all share our books.

There’s no need to repeat a given work.

4. This is the only way our library will be stocked.


Using the host choices from said podcast, our library currently contains

Confessions by Augustine of Hippo; Henry Chadwick (translator)

Church Dogmatics: A Selection by Karl Barth; Helmut Gollwitzer (editor)

The Rule of St. Benedict by Benedict of Nursia; Timothy Frye (editor)

The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius; Victor Watts (translator)

Theology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy by Walter Brueggemann

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri; John Ciardi (translator)

John Donne – The Major Works: Including Songs and Sonnets and Sermons by John Donne; John Carey (editor)

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky; Constance Garnett (translator)

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

Complete Poems and Major Prose by John Milton; Merritt Y. Hughes (editor)

Complete Works by Plato; John M. Cooper and D.S. Hutchinson (editors)

Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers

The Riverside Shakespeare by William Shakespeare; G. Blakemore Evans and J.J.M. Tobin (editors)

The Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas; Fathers of the English Dominican Province (translators)

Rabbit Angstrom: A Tetralogy by John Updike


I suppose I should count myself fortunate that two of my essential books were previously chosen; namely, The Divine Comedy (in my preferred translation, no less!) and The Riverside Shakespeare.

Therefore, my own five contributions are:

Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien; 50th Anniversary, One Vol. Edition

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Bulfinch’s Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch. New York: Sterling, 2015

Great Political Thinkers: Plato to the Present by Alan Ebenstein and William Ebenstein

The Original Illustrated Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

In addition, I’ll specify my Bible translation as Martin Luther’s translation


What five books would you contribute?


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