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My desert island books

By Valerie Yule - posted Friday, 10 January 2014

Now that my nights are insomniac and the radio keeps putting on music that I dislike, I keep 6 books by my bedside that I can turn to, and read as I wish, and can read in small doses. One is a new book, but the other 5 are from a list of 25 that I have read before and can read again and again.. The print has to be readable by an old old person. If I kept a collection of "read once only" books, they would be very different.

25 books to keep near my bedside, to choose 5 at a time right at my bedside:


  1. Albery Nicholas, ed, - Poem for the Day, Book l, for a selection of poems old and new that support every mood.

  2. Barrie John - Collected Works. Dear Brutus. This fat book and the equally fat book were bought by collecting coupons from popular newspapers eighty years ago – something that would not happen today. Dear Brutus is a cautionary tale of what could happen if we did make the choices that we now regret not making.

  3. Bible – Ezekiel – a wild prophet with fiery wheels in the sky and dead bones rising – the old equivalent of horror-science-fiction.

  4. Clarke .Arthur C. - Tales of Ten Worlds – imagination running wild with reason.

  5. Cookson. Catherine - Our Kate – raw life in northern England, and feeling that is as true as Jane Austen.

  6. Disney, Walt - Uncle Scrooge – a comics lesson to all capitalists in little spades and shovels.

  7. Gardner, Martin (ed) –Great Essays in Science – what you would expect, but need to read again and again.

  8. Goscinny, René & Uderzo Albert - Asterix and the Vikings– I disapprove of the violence, but the depiction of ancient nationalities and the wonderful translation of names and happenings is better than the Simpsons.

  9. Kingsley, Charles. The Heroes – 4 Greek legendary heroes retold in heroic prose with heroic drawings

  10. Malory, Thomas - Morte d'Arthur - back to the ages I seem to remember.

  11. Mee, Arthur - Children's Treasure House - what it says it is. All sorts of information that it is not easy to get even on Google.

  12. Montgomery L M - Chronicles of Avonlea – short tales of village life in which usually there is a late marriage.

  13. O'Connor, Mark – Overloading Australia – just a reminder of the future.

  14. Oxford Book of Quotations – like a book full of wonderful poetry and prose – in snippets

  15. Palgrave's Golden Treasury – poems of death seem to be the most common, but comforting

  16. Renault, Mary - The King must Die – Retelling of the Theseus legend with reimagining of the ways of gods and heroes in the Mycenaean age.

  17. Scots Dictionary – a source of wonderful words that do not exist in English, to describe what the English do not think of.

  18. Sellars & Yeatman - 1066 and all that - I would never have got a First in British History without this quotable aide memoire.

  19. Shaw, G Bernard – Collected Works, Man and Superman – fancy making a play out of imagining a metaphysical future.

  20. Smiles, Samuel - Lives of the Engineers – inspiring boys to become engineers, including my father. Girls unfortunately were not allowed.

  21. Stratton-Porter, Gene. - Laddie – a small girl admiring her big brother and her Ginn's reading book, which guides her thoughts in old-time Idaho.

  22. Twain, Mark - The Book of Beasts – a selection of Twain

  23. White, T H - The Ill-made Knight – from The Once and Future King, the story of Lancelot, inimitably told.

  24. Wodehouse, P. G. – Hot Water – I think this the funniest of all the funny Wodehouse books. I can never remember all the twists of plot and phrases of wonderful humour, so I can read it again and again.

  25. Yule, Valerie – The Book of Spells & Misspells – ah what a genius I was then in 2005.


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About the Author

Valerie Yule is a writer and researcher on imagination, literacy and social issues.

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