One woman’s inspiration is another man’s toilet paper. Nowhere is this truer than in the world of books. In my family, there are emotional arguments. The man I married, is disappointed in me. I never , never, he complains, get around to reading the wonderful non fiction volumes he dips into- Danziggers Travels, Spice, An Intimate History of Humanity et al . I’m unhappy with him as well. He can’t afford the time, he says, to get drawn into the fiction I’m constantly gripped by.
At my book club, the divisions are even sharper. There are Rushdie haters. There are Rushdie Lovers. ….
Ondaatje’s ‘The English Patient’ once provoked a bitter fight. Paul Coelho elicits a sniff of disdain. Emotions, in short, ride high on the subject of books. And while I may not, as many criticized authors will point out, have created a literary masterpiece, I sure do know a good book when I see one. Here then , as a starting post, is my current Desert Island List ( the bag of books I will carry with me in preparation of being marooned, alone, on a desert island)
1. The Mahabharata ( the single volume English translation by Kamala Subramaniam ; also the 2 volume translation by Ramesh Menon)
2. The Salman Rushdie Omnibus ( only on an island would I be able to complete his plotless wonders, his books are such poetry, but so non-page turners)
3. The Simon Winchester Omnibus ( Fell in love, last year, with his journey down the Yangtze in China entitled ‘The River at the Centre of the World’ and would like to read everything else he’s ever written)
4. The Age of Turbulence by Alan Greenspan
5. The Ursula Le Guin Omnibus
6. The Margaret Atwood Omnibus
7. An Intimate History of Humanity by Theodore Zeldin
8. Roget’s Thesauras
9. Nobody’s Perfect by Anthony Lane ( collection of writings from the New Yorker’s Current Cinema critic)
10. John Updike’s ‘Rabbit’ quartet .
Any one like to add to this list or comment ?