Desert Island Books

I love Desert Island Discs, and regularly try and choose my seven desert island records. Books are more of a problem though. You get the Bible, and Shakespeare, which admittedly is quite a lot of reading material, but then you only get to choose one other book. Now that clearly isn’t sufficient.

However, on this website, where I can make my own rules, I decided that I would choose my desert island books from three categories, and allow myself ten selections from each. So, below are my top ten modern fiction, top ten classic fiction (I am using the term classic to denote that the author is dead, not any particular claim of quality over and above the modern fiction), and top ten detective fiction. At some point I may add my top ten non-fiction, top ten poetry and top ten ‘children’s’ books. The lists are in alphabetical order by author’s surname because I didn’t want to rank them.

I’ve chosen these books purely based on the enjoyment I get from reading them, and how much they have influenced me, and my reading and writing, not on any conventional literary merit. Generally I’ve tried to limit myself to one book per author (surely I’m allowed Agatha Christie as an exception), but it’s a fairly safe assumption that if an author has made it on to these lists then I’ve enjoyed pretty much everything they’ve written, and have just made a subjective judgement on my personal favourite. Anyway, these 30 books would keep me pretty happy on my desert island, especially if I get Shakespeare thrown in as well.

Oh, and my luxury? Well, I feel somewhat torn between a photo of my husband and daughter and a limitless supply of chocolate. But I reasoned that the photo might just increase my homesickness, whereas chocolate is guaranteed to cheer and console.

My Top Ten Modern Fiction

My Top Ten Classic Fiction

My Top Ten Detective Fiction


  1. I love your recommended book list Helen -and all your comments. Will catch up on some that I haven’t already read.


    • Glad you like – I’ll be interested to hear what you thought of books you hadn’t already read.


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