This article first appeared on https://thelitedit.com/ on July 19, 2018.
If you like your pictures bright and breezy and your book piles stacked high, then you must check out Triin from Word Child’s beautiful Bookstagram account. Featuring a stunning selection of flat lays, shelfies, and bookshops, it’s easily one of the prettiest accounts on Instagram, and so I was thrilled when Triin agreed to share with me her Desert Island Books. She said of her choices – The books I have chosen are from different countries, Russia, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Finland, England and America. The writers are huge literary figures a number of whom have won Nobel prices for their achievements. Most of the 8 books are philosophical and existential. I read all of these book when I was in high school or just after and would like to reread them. They all helped me to find deeper meaning in my life – and they’ve certainly encouraged me to explore other countries when it comes to choosing my next book. From a favourite that Triin often re-reads, to an English family saga, read on for some serious literary inspiration…
The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
I would take all of Dostoevky’s books with me to a desert island apart from Crime and Punishment.I studied The Idiot in my final year in high school and was lucky to get it in my examination. It must have been the only time I impressed my teacher and I still remember the proud look she gave to the headmaster. Reading The Idiot helped me grow up. It changed me, it made me more fragile, less superficial but more sincere. I don’t remember many characters as well as the intelligent Prince Myshkin playing an Idiot. Prince Myshkin, is probably my favourite literary character of all time.
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Márquez
I loved this magical realistic historical book about 7 generations of the Buendía family. It was fascinating to follow the destinies of the family members. The book presents different national myths through the story of a family. The real and supernatural are intertwined. Reading this book made me look at life in a different way, notice new things and brought magic into my life too. The magic disappeared but the memories of the book remained. It reminds me when I was a child listening to stories being told by adults. Nothing made sense.
Thérèse Desqueyroux, The End of the Night by François Mauriac
When asked about my favourite book I always think of Thérèse Desqueyroux and The End of the Night. I often re-read it and like it more and more. The French study it at school but it is not well known. I like Thérèse, a character in the book, because she likes reading. What drives a woman to poison her husband, leave her daughter with her husband and then go to live and eventually die alone in Paris? I have heard that your life is written in your favourite book and I thought this can not be true but now I have a daughter. I might have to read the book again to compare with my life because I do not want this book to reflect my life story.
Narziss and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse
I was fascinated by Hesse’s existential mysticism when I read a few of his books just after finishing high school. It was the best time to read him because most of his books are about an individual’s spiritual search. Published in 1930, Narziss and Goldmund is a story of two friends in medieval Germany. Largely metaphorical, it has the feel of a fairy tale with a story full of hope and deep beauty. I would like to revisit Hesse’s books. His books are about the turmoil and duality of the human soul. After reading Hesse life feels more meaningful.
The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
This is a very engaging historical murder mystery and conspiracy story. I have read it twice but it is not enough to grasp everything in the book. It is a pleasure to read but it demands a lot from the reader. Detective William uncovers the abbey’s darkest secrets, often by making prohibited trips to the abbey’s labyrinth of a library. Eco has a vast knowledge of medieval studies and is a professor of semiotics which plays a critical role in the novel. If you are interested in semiotics you should read this book.
Sinuhe the Egyptian by Mika Waltari
Sinuhe is a historical novel about the life of Egyptian doctor Sinuhe who leaves Egypt without a purpose or a destination. It is a very long book but is always interesting being beautifully written from the first sentence. Reading it is very calming like meditation and I would recommend it to anyone who is feeling down or tired of life. I have a copy in original Finnish on my shelves waiting to be reread. It is not just another historical novel but more akin to a book of poetry.
Forsythe Saga by John Galsworthy
I love family sagas. This English classic about love and property feels very real. It is a multi-generational story of an English family that spans the Victorian, Edwardian, and World War I eras. It is rich in irony about the lengths that men strive to acquire property and then find their acquisitions meaningless. It is long but compelling and captivating read. I prefer it to all the more popular English classics that are more commonly referenced on Internet. I reread it a month before I moved to London and started walking the streets in the book.
The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
This is another book I would like to revisit soon. I bought it because it was reduced in price thinking it was about beauty only later learning it is an important feminist work. The concept that through dieting the government tries to control women so they have no energy to stand up for themselves still shocks me. Dieting is a political sedative. The book did not stop me dieting but it did increase my understanding.