7 Deserted island books for an escape

7 deserted island books for an escape

In Reading Lists, Reading Lists - Fiction by Joanne O'Sullivan

7 Deserted island books for an escape
With all that’s been happening with the pandemic, politics, and climate change, escaping to a deserted island sounds like a very good option. The deserted island is a popular place in fiction, too — the ideal setting for exploring various themes from love to loneliness, society to self-sufficiency. If you’ve ever wondered what books you would want to read if you were ever stranded on a deserted island, let’s start with some that are actually set on one with this short reading list.

The Tempest by William Shakespeare

A powerful sorcerer, a shipwreck, and a complicated love triangle — Shakespeare’s desert island play is one of his most popular for good reason. Mixing romance, revenge, and even a coming-of-age story, it features some of the Bard’s most memorable characters: Prospero, Miranda, and Caliban.

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Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

Considered the first English novel (and first work of realistic fiction), this classic recounts the tale of a shipwreck survivor in the Caribbean and his 28 years on an island he calls “The Island of Despair.” Through the years, he encounters cannibals, pirates, and wild beasts, ultimately learning self-sufficiency.

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Told in Mitchell’s characteristic slightly surrealist style, this sprawling tale set in 1799 (a Man Booker finalist in 2010) follows de Zoet, a low-level clerk in the Dutch East India Company living in exile on the artificial island of Dejima off the coast of Japan. When de Zoet sets foot on the mainland, his life collides with midwife Orito, whose story becomes forever linked to his. 

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The Beach by Alex Garland 

Considered one of the most influential novels of the ‘90s Garland’s inventive story is set on an island off the coast of Thailand, untouched by the overtourism that plagues the Thai coast. Backpacker Richard is introduced to this paradise by a couple he meets, but soon finds out the beauty of “The Beach” hides a sinister truth.

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The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

A YA reimagining of the H.G. Wells classic The Island of Dr. Moreau, this captivating gothic thriller centers on Juliet, daughter of the reckless doctor who has been conducting gruesome animal experiments on a remote island. When Juliet discovers her father might still be alive, she sets out to learn the truth only to discover it’s much more complicated than she could have imagined.

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Life of Pi By Yann Martel

Martel’s international blockbuster tells the story of Piscine (Pi) Patel, set adrift with a tiger after the ship carrying his family’s zoo to Canada sinks at sea. When Pi washes up in Mexico weeks later and tells his fantastical story, the reader must decide what’s true and what’s allegory.

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What books, music, or luxury would you take with you to a desert island? This popular BBC podcast poses that question to celebrities and other notable people, resulting in a fascinating look at the music, stories, and items people hold most dear.

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About the Author: Joanne O'Sullivan

Joanne writes about books, art, and travel in Asheville, North Carolina. She's the author of the YA novel Between Two Skies and a dozen nonfiction books for kids.
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