Desert Island Books – Feeding the mind: Which books will you take?


Desert Island Disks produced an overwhelming response with the nominations and comments made by fellow Almanckers selecting their favourite albums they’d like to be “lost with”. A playlist of songs featuring those “spine – tingling” moments within tunes that we all love was produced for our enjoyment.


Now that we’ve fed the soul with music, it’s time to feed the mind and nominate those books we’d love to have with us “lost” on our desert island.


I’m nominating 3 books; with all that time on my hands I will have the opportunity to read finally, finish reading, or re-read books that have appealed to me over many years.


  1. UlyssesJames Joyce.


I’ve commenced reading this book at least half a dozen times but never finished it. A couple of times I probably got 75% of the way through but could not finish it. It is a book that really needs to be read in one or two extended sittings to enable you to keep track of what’s happening and the characters that come in and out of the story.



  1. The Bible.


This would be my one chance to read the tome and discover what all the fuss is about!



  1. Tree of Man – Patrick White.


I love reading PW and endeavour to re-read his books every few years so why not start with one of his classics.


Ok Almanackers, I’ve set the ball rolling, now it’s your turn.


Check out the Desert Island Disk nominations and comments HERE


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About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. Chris Daley says

    Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
    The Turning – Tim Winton
    The Road – Cormac McCarthy
    100 Australian Poems You Need To Know – Phillip Adams (ed)
    The Tall Man – Chloe Hooper
    Jack Irish Series – Peter Temple

    And, of course, The Footy Almanac 2017 and 2019 editions

    I know that’s more than three, but, y’know.

  2. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    The Outsider – Albert Camus

    Poms to Premiers – History of the Central District Football Club 1959-2009 – Robert Laidlaw and Robin Mulholland

    The Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop (First Edition) – Ian McFarlane

  3. Paul Spinks says

    G’day, Colin:

    I’ll take the book I just borrowed from the library because ajc recommended it to me in a previous post: Once A Great Notion by Ken Kersey. It’ll keep me occupied because there’s over 700 pages of it! So far, I’ve read the intro. How long is this island sojourn? The library fine could be massive!

    I’ll need to throw in something smaller, unborrowed and timeless: Metamorphosis by Franz the Man K.

    Then I’m thinking The Tales of Don Juan by Carlos Castaneda, partly because I can spend so much time deciding if it should be filed under fiction, non-fiction, religion, anthropology, cosmology etc, etc, etc.

    Though, another option is some Jane Austen for literary romance and insight into Georgian gender relations.

    But all this is off the top of my head – will probably have another selection tomorrow.


  4. Paul Spinks says

    Oops – that should’ve been the Teachings of Don Yuan (as opposed to Tales of Power by the same author). – it’s no longer on my bookshelf, having been ‘borrowed’ by someone at some point. That’s my story, anyway.

  5. I’d definitely NOT be taking the works of William Shakespeare – can’t stand the old English.

    .In science fiction I’d take the WELL WORLD SERIES by Jack Chalker – fantastic. Harry Harrison’s THE STAINLESS STEEL RAT series would be a must.

    Crime books by MICHAEL CONNELLY featuring harry Bosh and Mickey Halley Junior would also be a must.


    Finally the works of David Baldacci would rate highly

  6. Science fact books from those 2 great explainers, SIR ARTHUR C CLARKE AND ISAAC ASIMOV would be an absolute must. Both wrote extremely sensible accounts of man’s influence on climate change in the eighties.

    Also I would love to get hold of ASIMOV’S GUIDE TO THE BIBLE IN 2 VOLUMES. I have heard and read that this work is well worth reading – eye opening in fact.

  7. Richard Ford’s Sportswriter series for me if I can take all four novels. Funny, sad, outrageous, exquisitely penned. If I’d time I’d reread it every year.

    Fisho- as a teen I was obsessed by Asimov’s Foundation series. The scope of it blew my tiny mind.

  8. Mickey, Asimov’s Robot series is also mind blowing. Did you know he died of an AIDS related disease. After having a multiple by pass operation he received HIV contaminated blood in a transfusion. This info was never released until well after his death. Think of anything you like and you can be sure Isaac wrote about it.The world is a much poorer place with his passing.

  9. More fun from CR, onya!


    The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, easily the best novel I have read and re-read and could keep on reading on an island dreaming my life away. Laugh out loud funny, deeply stimulating and on and on.
    Illywhacker by Peter Carey, a giant of a shaggy dog, tall story with endless delights and side splitting moments and ideas.
    Last Train to Memphis and Careless Love by Peter Guralnick, my favourite music writer going deeper than any other biographer into the life of Elvis. Ant it is fascinating.


  10. I will take three Australian books:

    “Fortune” by Robert Drewe;
    “True History Of The Kelly Gang” by Peter Carey;
    “Truth” by Peter Temple (the greatest of them all).

  11. Paul Spinks says

    Double oops, title revision revising and all that. That should be “Sometimes A Great Notion”

    Just seeing if anyone was paying attention, or I have a weakness with names (true – and spelling), suffer internet blindness, forgot to pay the copy editor, drink too much, or my errors hunt in packs. Take your pick.

    Well done for tackling Ulysses though, Colin. I haven’t been game yet, though did read Portrait of an Artist… (correct title abbreviation?). It raises the question of what we look for in literature – is it the great story or the writing craft and unravelling the puzzle? The best does the lot, I guess. As for Joyce, I think he’s probably having a bit of fun with it as well – we have to figure out the joke.

  12. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Nice one, Col. Got me thinking.
    Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
    The Hero With a Thousand Faces – Joseph Campbell
    Kill For Collingwood – Richard Stremski

  13. Believe it or not, I reckon I’d actually like to re-read many of my old BIGGLES BOOKS, especially the World War 1 stories and a couple of the World War 2 books, namely Biggles Sweeps the Desert and Biggles in the Orient.

    I believe the MONTY PYTHON GANG sent up “Biggles Flies Again” with “BIGGLES FLIES UNDONE”, many years ago.

    I’m certainly showing my age now.

  14. Like Fisho,I’d take some older favourites, not Biggles, but the red linen covered 1950’s version of Enid Blyton’s famous five series that I ‘borrowed’ from the downstairs pool room of my grandparents house.

    I’ve since added so many variations of same text. Love the differing covers of book sleeves used.

    Children’s books of eras before my time have also taken my heart; especially those that had one or two coloured illustration plates embedded within the text…the 1950’s seemed tight in coloured pictures vs words, making the images more delightful.

    And a Dr Suess, ‘I like Spots’ circa 1970’s color and text… he nailed that combination.

    On another note.. I’d also take the Ethel Florence Lindesay Richardson aka Henry Handel Richardson, The Fortunes of Richard Mahoney with me.

    …..and from there I would add on all the unread books that take up space under my bed.

  15. Frank Hardy’s “Power Without Glory” is my seminal book and sadly even more relevant today than when it was published 60 years ago about how money and gambling corrupts and destroys people, politics and ultimately society. (John Woodman’s Bible).
    Anything by Peter Temple (agreed Smokie “Truth” is first among equals) or John LeCarre (the Smiley books more about character than spies). Thomas Cahill (Hinges of History) and Barbara Tuchman (March of Folly) my favourite popular history writers and always wanted to finish reading all their books.
    For sport I have recently been intrigued by the Between the Lines podcast run by Scottish publlisher Backpage Press. I now have a long list of their recommended books (best of Hugh McIlvanney; Dutch football; bios of legendary Celtic manager Jock Stein; Lawrence Donegan’s “Four Iron to the Soul”).
    Speaking of golf I’d have to take Tom Doak and George Waters’ “Sand and Golf: How Terrain Shapes the Game”. With a sand wedge and a bucket of balls I’d have plenty of time to work on getting out of the sand.

  16. Kate, like you I loved many Enid Blyton books. My favourites were the SECRET SEVEN SERIES. I still have them and remember reading them to our children.

  17. I am Ned Kelly, John Molony.

    Ned Kelly, a Short Life, Ian Jones.

    The Birth of Melbourne, Tim Flannery.

    Slow Tracks, Jude Fitcher.

    The Grundrisse, Karl Marx.

    The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx & Frederick Engels.

    Fully Automated Luxury Communism, Aaron Bastani.



  18. The world book encyclopedia would keep me out of mischief for a while.

  19. DBalassone says

    The Shepherd’s Hut – Tim Winton, just unbelievable.
    The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar.
    Chronicles: Volume 2 – Dylan.

  20. Earl O'Neill says

    A desert island? I wouldn’t want anything I’d already read so
    ‘The Shield Of Achilles’, Phillip Bobbit, the only book that has ever defeated me. Every sentence demands three readings.
    ‘Middlemarch’, George Eliot, I like it but have never finished it.
    ‘Complete Works’, Wm Shakespeare, should keep me going for a while.

  21. roger lowrey says

    OK if I’m allowed three books I’lll cheat.

    I’ll count the Bible as one.

    I’ll count the complete works of Shakespeare as the next. Seriously folks, with apologies to the late Ken Howard, daylight runs second to this bloke.

    And my bronze would be Joseph Conrad’s “Nostromo”. An old sentimental favourite I wrote my honours year thesis on. You sort of have to get it – a bit.

    Love the other suggestions coming through Col.


  22. John Butler says

    Where to start? And where to stop?

    James Ellroy would make the cut – The LA Quartet, plus the Underwold USA Trilogy.

    Early Hunter S Thompson – particularly his writing on the ’72 Presidential campaign.

    Lester Bangs – Psychotic Reactions & Carburetor Dung

    Gore Vidal – Narratives of Empire series

    David Foster Wallace – Infinite Jest

    Greil Marcus’ writings on Dylan.

    Cormac McCarthy – Blood Meridian

    I’d need to be on that island for a while.

  23. Yes JB! Blood Meridian! Our son’s middle name is Cormac after that great American writer.

    Have you read Hunter’s first book, on the Hell’s Angels?

    Anything by Greil I reckon.

    And Bonfires of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. Didn’t he predict the future in that novel.


  24. Les Everett says

    It would be fun having conversations with someone reading Blood Meridian on the desert island… they want to be alone I suppose.

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