What books would you choose if you could read just five, desert-island-style, over and over and over again? That’s the question BOOK CITY ★ Roanoke contributor Ashley Wilson Fellers asks local writers, booksellers and literacy advocates in an occasional series, Desert Island Reads.
In this installment, Ashley checks in with Melody Warnick, a Blacksburg-based journalist and author of This Is Where You Belong: Finding Home Wherever You Are. Here’s how this intentional community-builder responded:
I hate to imagine any situation in which I’d have to limit myself to a mere five books. Can’t I just bring a Kindle? But if I were in that dire situation, here are the five meaty, complex books whose sentences I’d like to parse forever…
- Middlemarch by George Eliot
Wise and incisive and completely modern, Middlemarch is perhaps the most perfect classic novel I’ve ever read. This may be scandalous to say, but in my opinion Eliot out-Austens Austen. (Don’t worry, I love Jane Austen too.) And I think long is going to be a plus on a desert island.
- Empire Falls by Richard Russo
I want novels I can believe, and Richard Russo is the king of writing believable, multidimensional characters. I also love books that make me cry, and we have a winner in Empire Falls.
- This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
Ann Patchett is, like Amy Poehler, a famous person I want to hang out with. This collection of essays is flabbergastingly well-written and convinces you that Ann Patchett is a good egg who should be your new BFF.
- Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
This harrowing book about a woman dying and being reborn again and again in the same place is so rich it deserves multiple re-readings. Atkinson is one of my all-time favorite writers; her prose is stunning. (Although I regret not being able to squeeze in the sequel, A God in Ruins, as well.)
- Ten Years in the Tub: A Decade Soaking in Great Books by Nick Hornby There’s a strange pleasure in reading a book about books. This collection of Nick Hornby’s clever book reviews for The Believer is erudite but accessible and makes me want to read all the things. It’s like I found a sneaky way to have hundreds of books on my desert island after all!
★ Want a great conversation to reflect on the role of disruption in life? Check out the podcast episode with Ashley Wilson Fellers here.