Ed. Note: This is the 6th in our series of books we’d take with us on a deserted island if we could only pick ten. Today’s list comes from Meghan Volchko, a librarian and Collection Development Analyst with OverDrive.


Note from Meghan: 

This was really hard.  I regret everything. Can I just bring my iPad and some kind of solar charger and get OverDrive books from CCPL?

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway is my favorite American author, and as a recovering English major, I need to have this book.  Hemingway’s own experiences in World War I lead to this beautiful story of love and pain and the horrors of war.  I am in awe of his succinct writing style, so unlike my own.

Les Miserables­ by Victor Hugo

I have never read this book, but I figure what better time to read an epic novel then when you are abandoned on an island?  Also, I think that it will answer lots of the burning questions I have from the musical (like whatever happened to Jean Valjean’s sister after he was sent to prison for stealing bread for her), and give me a chance to belt out all of the songs with no one around to judge me.

The Complete Stories by Flannery O’Connor

If you have never read Flannery O’Connor, you are missing out on one of the most unique voices in American literature.  She captures modern Southern gothic, and I challenge you not to enjoy these dark tales, honest and full of life.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

This book, and how it looks at gender, is almost more relevant today than it was when it came out in the mid-2000s.  The story of a multi-generational family of Greek immigrants in Detroit, it shows the American dream and all of the skeletons in the closet that can come along with it.  This is a book that stays with you long after you are finished.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Confession 1: I am a sucker for time travel romance (especially when it is a well written and researched as this book); Confession 2: I have read this book at least 6 times; Confession 3: I have read no other books in the series (but one of these days, I will, just not on a deserted island).

Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm

Who doesn’t love a book of fairy tales?  Princesses, frogs, fire-hot iron shoes that an evil queen must dance in until she dies, these are the original versions of the tales that we knew and loved as children, not knowing how dark and creepy they really were.  While these would have frightened me as a child, as an adult, I find them fascinating (and still frightening).

Bel Canto­ by Ann Patchett

You can hear the music in this book.  Patchett weaves song through this story of terrorism and survival, and it really is a masterpiece of a story.  If you are a character-driven reader, which I am, you will love all of the stories of all of those involved in this story of a prolonged hostage situation in South America.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

This book…  I barely even know where to start, but this story of an outcast Dominican American super nerd growing up in New Jersey and trying to fit in is one of my favorite books ever.  The amount of “Easter eggs” of science fiction and fantasy are impossible to catch in one reading, and Oscar’s family requires an additional visit as well.  Plus there are footnotes!

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot

My parents introduced me to James Herriot at a young age, both in book form and the amazing BBC series (which I used to binge-watch in the dark days of VHS).  His stories of being a young veterinarian in Yorkshire, England in the 1940s are a must-read for any animal lover.  This book is close to my heart, as will all of the quirky townsfolk and their furry family members be to you after just a few chapters.

Illustrated Guide to Edible Wild Plants by Department of the Army

I like to eat.  I also know that I would totally end up like Foxface from The Hunger Games if I was left alone to try to survive by foraging for my own food, so if I have the opportunity to have some survival tools, I’m going to take them.


Meghan Volchko is a librarian and a Collection Development Specialist with OverDrive