One of the great sessions at this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival is Desert Island Books, where different authors share the eight books they’d want to have with them if they were stuck on a deserted island.
Choosing eight favourite books is easy. We’ve upped the challenge, choosing just one book. We admit, it’s a little like Sophie’s Choice – an impossible task, and there were moments when, like Sophie, we procrastinated for so long someone just tore one of the books we were mulling over from our grasp.
Harper Lee’s 1961 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, about a child’s view of race and justice in the Depression-era South.
To Kill a Mockingbird is as relevant today as it was when it was first published. I love everything about this book. It’s timeless.
The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, a fascinating, detailed account of Japanese court life in the eleventh century.
Written by Sei Shonagon, a lady of the court at the height of Heian culture, this book is filled with history, wit, and subtlety. I love it so much. Sei Shonagon’s strength and originality is awesome, especially when you remember she wrote it 1,000 years ago.
The Tree of Man, Patrick White’s portrait of human resilience, chronicling the lives of the Parker family and their changing fortunes over many decades.
The Tree of Man paints such a stark and pared back existence of living on the land as it once was. Even though life isn’t always good, it’s simple. Patrick White’s ability to create a vivid picture and tell a rich story draws me back to The Tree of Man time and time again.
Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, The Goldfinch, a coming-of-age tale about a boy who loses his mother and gains a painting.
When I first read The Goldfinch a few years ago, it immediately became my most-loved book. The story of young Theo Decker and his priceless, secret painting is captivating, Donna Tartt’s writing so evocative and beautiful, that it’s impossible not to get swept up.
Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, about the Bennet family, five very different sisters and the romance between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy.
Whether she’s poking fun at her peers, or bearing her soul through the gracious Elizabeth Bennet, Jane Austen always puts a smile on my face.
Which book would you take with you? Tip: Don’t overthink it.