Three Books Only

Imagine you would be allowed to possess only three books – which three books would that be? And why these three?

I am looking forward to your responses! (My own answers will follow later.)

© Thomas Hübner and, 2014-6. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without expressed and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Thomas Hübner and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

18 thoughts on “Three Books Only

  1. Loudmila

    The Little Prince as it is nice to see an elephant.
    Kafka on the Shore a big fan of Murakami’s narrative.
    Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy … well … it’s all about a towel.

  2. Rise

    Harsh situation. I’m tempted to mention thick (2,000+ pages) anthologies of world masterpieces. Also, long books in series (trilogies, quartets, six, seven, ten, twelve-part books), but since these books are often bound individually, they would exceed the limit of three. Will e-books count? Because there are extra-long e-books that would alleviate this impoverished situation.

    1. A Time for Everything by Karl O. Knausgaard
    2. The Collected Novels of José Saramago (this is an ebook, so I’m cheating here)
    3. Collected Fictions by Borges

  3. Gert Loveday

    The Novel – A Biography (Michael Schmidt) – it’s 1200 pages long and covers from Sir John Mandeville to Martin Amis. Almost as good as reading the novels themselves and full of interesting anecdotes about authors.
    Collected Shakespeare, of course. Didn’t he say everything worth saying?
    John Leonard, Seven Centuries of English Poetry because it was the book that got me started writing poetry and as I presume I’m on a desert island I’d have plenty of time to practise.

  4. Caroline

    Exciting question.
    Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu – because it’s so long and so amazing.
    Le Dictionnaire des Symboles (collection bouquins) – you can’t get more stories than that.
    No 3 would be a hard choice. Either Mircea Eliade’s History of Religious Ideas or Joseph Campbell’s The Masks of God.

    1. admin Post author

      Thank you, Caroline! I like the variety of answers so far and hope to have a few more before I will reveal my own choice. 🙂

  5. Joseph Schreiber

    I would have to have one of Damon Galgut’s novels. They are short and spare but stand endless readings for me, either The Impostor, The Good Doctor or In a Strange Room. I would pick one by chance and be happy with it. I cannot imagine living without one of his works.

    I would chose a collection of short fiction and, at this moment, it would have to be Kafka.

    And one collection of poetry. I would be inclined to say Celan but with Kafka that might be too much. So I believe I would opt for W. H. Auden.

    1. admin Post author

      A friend whose judgement I trust gave me some time ago Galgut’s The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs; I am looking forward to read this author. Your other choices need no comment – classics!

      1. Joseph Schreiber

        The Beautiful Screaming of Pigs is wonderful. I have read it a number of times. I forgot to add that the reason I made my choices is that with only three books I would want books that would inspire me to write – that would open themselves up with repeated readings. Galgut, one of my favourite writers, constantly amazes me for the way he can hone his sentences to the most essential element and yet paint images which can stay with a reader forever. I would want to read him to the point where I might begin to see how he does it. I know for a fact that he rewrites and rewrites repeatedly – hence it takes him about four years to write a book!

  6. Tony Messenger

    Don Quixote (Edith Grossman’s translation) has to be up top for me, the relevance to so many modern novels never ceases to amaze me.

    I’d throw in “Seiobo There Below” by Krasznahorkai simply for its perfection and rereading could only reveal more each time.

    The third would be Bolano 2,666 again for rereading, sheer volume so it would keep me busy for a while.

    Being restricted to three is very painful, I may have a different list next week!!!

    1. admin Post author

      Thank you, Tony – excellent choices! Two of my books are set, but the third one changes from week to week, so I know about what you are talking! 🙂

  7. Clark Williams

    1). The Encyclopedia Brittanica (including “Great Books of the World”)
    2). The Oxford English Dictionary Full set
    3). A very large set of books that teaches how to write, and makes some attempt to teach to speak and hear, the major languages of the world.

    If I am forced to read three little books over and over, I am going to start memorizing each paragraph after awhile. Then, I would grow bored, and by degrees, critical of the author. Soon, I would be far beyond the writer’s worst critics, and have analyzed his personality, his characters, his faults and foibles. I would begin writing a book about the book. It would become a very long, and quite unpopular book. Later, I would become famous in history as the writer of three of the worst books ever!
    Please, for us all. Let me keep these books. I already have the #1 set. I am hoping someday to have the Oxford English Dictionary (hardbound, not digital).
    (3) As for the language, only half of this is the reading part. We need coaching in not only pronunciation, but in delivery. And to improve this in all languages.
    If I had one last night to live, I might pick Louis L’Amour over Gideons Bible. Just how I roll. Keep the faith dude!

    1. admin Post author

      Thank you Cllark – of course, when I said books, I meant books – not their electronic substitute, haha. As I said before: a little bit of cheating is allowed here, after all this is just a fun survey, so I won’t question your good choices 😉

  8. Krisi

    Let`s change the question. If you suddenly find out that you are on desolate island who will you imagine to be with you? About your question.
    1. The fairy tales of brothers Grimm.
    I can not point others. This came first and remains.

    1. admin Post author

      Ah, the Grimm Fairies – for many of us the first contact with literature; and an excellent one. They made me hungry for stories and that’s maybe the most important driver to read or listen to people who tell stories. As for the desolate island: have to think about that one 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.