The Ten Books I'd Take Along If Somehow I Knew in Advance I Was Going to End Up Stuck on a Desert Island

By Alan Good

In order to drum up book sales*, the online book seller One Grand Books invites "celebrated thinkers, writers, artists, and other creative minds" (by the way, I'm quoting from the "About Us" section of their website) to "share the ten books they would take to their metaphorical desert island, providing the audience a window into . . ." oh fuck it—it's fine—they want to sell books. I want people to buy books. I'd rather people bought books from One Grand over Amazon, but do we have to hear this "windows into the mind" bullshit? Here, this person you think is cool thinks these ten books are cool and maybe you will too so buy them! I think it's the phrase "metaphorical desert island" that annoys me so much. The most recent celebrated writer (as of this writing) to list ten desert-island-reading books is Roxane Gay. I know this might be an unpopular opinion, but I don't really give a shit what books she would take on a desert island. I honestly don't think we should take survival advice from Roxane Gay. Anyway, I apologize if any of the following jokes have been made before; some of them are fairly obvious. I just figured that since no one is ever going to ask me what books I'd take if I knew I was going to be stranded on a desert island (the phrase "desert island" meaning a deserted island, or an uninhabited island, not necessarily an island that's a desert) I'd just ask and answer myself.


*I'm not being critical; look, I'm about to do the same thing. See the links to all the books I'm mentioning? If you buy one of these books via these links Malarkey Books will get a few pennies.


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1. Celestial Navigation: A Complete Home Study Course, Second Edition, by David Burch. $39.

I haven't read this one, but I'd want to take it along to a desert island so I could get off the fucking island one day. I have a family, after all. Yes, I could use a break from the kids sometimes, but I'd want to get back to them. Seriously, anyone whose top-ten-desert-island books doesn't include this one, or something similar, is a fucking idiot. 

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2. The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants. $12.95 

I'll admit that I'm very prone to depression, but I also don't want to die. This book was originally produced for the U.S. Army and seems to cover plants from across the globe.  

3. Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand.

It's long, so it would provide a lasting supply of tinder. Easy joke, but seriously, Ayn Rand is pathetic. She was a cheap propagandist promoting a ridiculous, authoritarian philosophy. Stop taking her seriously. Stop voting for people who take her seriously, especially people who were named after her.

Note: I'm not linking to Atlas Shrugged because it's a piece of shit written by a piece of shit and enjoyed by pieces of shit and I'm not trying to take money from pieces of shit. Randerthals fuck off.

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4. The Bible. $18.95

It's big, and I could cut out the pages like Pablo Escobar and hide a gun or some survival tools inside it. 

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5. National Geographic Family Reference Atlas of the World. $70.

Seems pretty useful.

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6. Survive!: Essential Skills and Tactics to Get You Out of Anywhere - Alive, by Les Stroud. $19.99.

I have seen every episode of Survivorman, and I wish it would come back on instant on Netflix so I can watch it with my children

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7. Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival, by Dave Canterbury. $16.99

I've seen most of the episodes of his survival show, as well. Not as good as Survivorman, but you can't have too many survival skills books. Plus "bushcraft" is a funny word.

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8. How to Build and Sail Small Boats, Canoes Punts & Rafts Etc., edited by Tony Read. $25.99

The book about celestial navigation wouldn't be much use without this one.

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9. U.S. Army Survival Manual. $13.95

A classic.

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10. The Complete Works, Michel de Montaigne. $35

I bought this a few years ago after reading a review in The New Yorker. Seems like a good opportunity to finally read it.