It sounds good, doesn’t it? Ah, all alone on a deserted island. How idyllic is that? Before you start packing those Beach Reads or the latest Nora Roberts - reality check. Go watch Cast Away with Tom Hanks and rethink that thought.
Book # 1: You will need a good survival guide. There are many on the market, but you need one that will prepare you for island life, deserted island life. If you are anything like me, a city girl and a book nerd, you might be able to catch a fish or identify a coconut, but what comes after that? Have you ever had to gut a fish or crack open a coconut?
This is not Sea Island or Joe’s Crab Shack – you are on a deserted island, you are it – chief cook and bottle washer.
Now, I took Camping as a PE credit in college, but we never had to hunt and gather for our meals, everything was frozen in individual plastic, zippered bags, and packed in ice in our coolers. We learned how to build a fire using two sticks and some tinder, but what is considered tinder on an island paradise? Are there even sticks on a palm-infested island?
Yup, you will need a good survival guide and all the basic accoutrements listed inside that ensure survival – a knife or a machete or both, string, flint, maybe one of those shiny blankets that keep you warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. Peruse the book wisely and get packing.
Book # 2 – Okay, now that you have thatched a roof, caught a crustacean, and shaved a couple of spear heads into deadly points; it might help to figure out where your island paradise is situated. You will need an atlas, a map of some sort, maybe also a map of the constellations. It helps to get one’s bearings and figure out what might lie in store for you. Are you in some typhoon alley? A tsunami’s path? A pirate’s stopover? An atlas of the earth and sky will help you decide if you should move your thatched haven to a higher, more secure spot. You survived this far, it is best to be prepared, just in case.
Book # 3 – A cookbook. You’ve mastered building a fire, catching your food, protecting your domain, but just how many ways can one stomach grilled fish, boiled seaweed, and fresh coconut? It might help to have one of those fish and seafood cookbooks or a basic herb cookbook that will help you identify herbs, roots, and non-poisonous berries. Variety is the spice of life.
Book # 4 – A tome of some heft. Ah, we finally get to the restful part of our idyllic getaway. Without the use of electronics, you will eventually get weary of “being in the moment,” and looking at the endless panorama of sea and surf. After a weary day of survival, you will need some form of mental entertainment.
You don’t want to end up talking to a basketball and giving him a Christian name do you? Bring along a lengthy tome, something like the Bible, the Webster’s Dictionary or Roget’s Thesaurus, maybe the collected works of Shakespeare or a Michener novel. You always wanted to learn Italian, German, or Chinese, so bring along a language book, any book that will take lots of your time to study. You have it to spare. Why bore Wilson the basketball with banalities when you can have a lively discussion with him on the pros and cons of Creationism versus Evolution? You two can chatter away in Italiano, count to twenty in German, discuss Chinese history in Standard Mandarin. Oh, yay.
Book # 5 – And finally, let us not forget a journal with lots of pages and pencils. I would not recommend pens because they run out of ink easily and the ink might smudge if wet, so you will get a lot more out of a pencil. You can always sharpen them with your knife or machete and use them until they are tiny nubs.
I realize people do not PLAN on being cast away on a deserted island, but the next time you pack for a trip and you grab “a little something to read” while on the beach or resting in between tours of the sights, you might reconsider which book or books make the trek with you. Just saying.