Tuesday, 5 March 2013

A list of books... set on islands

There are a few lists of novels set on those most special of isolated places: islands. However, I wanted to task my friends with coming up with a list which meant something to them, as a kind of crowdsourcing game. This would inevitably be something quite eclectic compared to the usual list, and it was really interesting for me to see what people recommend. Like a psychology experiment with no hypothesis.

For this list books only count if most of the novel, or at least the important scenes, are set on an isolated island. As such I won't include things like The Life of Pi (a novel I hated - the only bit I enjoyed was the floating island!) I also did not count islands which are also countries themselves e.g. Cyprus.

When I did my English lit A level in the dim and distant past I chose to do an extended essay on 'island fiction', examining what it told us about human nature. I used Robinson Crusoe, Shakespeare's The Tempest, and Golding's Lord of the Flies. Therefore they all appear in this list, along with my first novel (which wouldn't have worked if it wasn't set on an island).

I've added the list to Goodreads ListopiaShelfari, and Amazon's Listmania. Many thanks to my friends and helpers for contributing: Johanna, Sarah, Bec, Emma, Justin, Sam x2, Regina, Heidi, Helen, Rob, Alyson, Andrew, Neal, Elizabeth, Meg, Michele, Michael, Trish, and Joe. I originally got the idea for this blog post from reading fellow writer Helen J. Beal's blog.

Let the listage commence! Oh, and it is in no particular order.




Robinson Crusoe 
by Daniel Defoe
I've read it a few times. It's not my favourite book. I kept wanting Crusoe to get eaten, the racist goat muncher. However, the details of how he survives and makes all the things he needs are interesting.


The Island of Dr. Moreau 
by H.G. Wells 
A disturbing classic of vivisection horror.


Lord of the Flies
by William Golding
I love it. The book suits my pessimistic nature. A perfect example of a tense story that is actually about something much larger.


Nation
by Terry Pratchett
I should read some more Pratchett. I loved his first two books, and remember being lay on my bed laughing aloud when I was a student.


Shutter Island
by Dennis Lehane
I've only seen the film. Sorry!


The Summer Book
by Tove Jansson
I've not read it, but a few of my friends praised it a lot.


The Swiss Family Robinson
by Johann David Wyss


Island of the Blue Dolphins
by Scott O'Dell



Emma's Island
by Honor Arundel


The Island of Adventure
by Enid Blyton
I read lots of Blyton when I was a child. I had this edition, which included Castle of Adventure too.


Treasure Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Oo arr, enough to make me want to cock a hat and sail the high seas again in my kayak. We seem to be stuck in a current of children's books at the moment.


Seacrow Island
by Astrid Lindgren


The Blue Lagoon
by Henry de Vere Stacpoole
I've seen the film. 1980, Brooke Shields. Mercilessly spoofed in Top Secret.


Jurassic Park
by Michael Crichton


The Island
by Victoria Hislop


Song of the Sea God
by Chris Hill 


The Beach
by Alex Garland
Back in adult territory now. I enjoyed most of this novel, it gripped me at the start and kept me reading, but because I found it difficult to empathise with the main character it didn't feel as satisfying as it could have.


The Tempest
by William Shakespeare
I always had sympathy for Caliban. Caliban said he was happy until an outsider took over the island from him and degraded him. I played with that idea in my novel Turner, through the characters of Bwystfil and Bran Ddu.


Twenty Thousand Saints
by Fflur Dafydd
Set on Ynys Enlli, where I also stayed while writing a novel. Another connection for me is that Gwen Davies edited Twenty Thousand Saints, and she was also the editor for my second novel, CF2K.


Turner
by Karl Drinkwater
So sue me. It's my blog and it fits the criteria.


Pig Island
by Mo Hayder
I wanted to include Ritual in this list, the novel that The Wicker Man (1973) was based on, a horrifying film. Unfortunately, unlike the film (set on a remote Hebridean island), the novel is set on the mainland. Pig Island is its replacement.


The Magus
by John Fowles
I've read some Fowles - French Lieutenant's Woman (of course), The Collector (creepy and impulsive) and The Ebony Tower (mixed feelings, a novella collection). This is on my long list of books to read.

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22 books. How many have you read?
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3 comments:

Alyson said...

Going by memory alone (risky), I've read 3, possibly 4. It seems islands generate a violent, depressing, psychotic urge in writers. There don't seem to be many other genres on the list!

Chris Hill said...

Thanks very much for including my book Song of the Sea God on this list. It is, as you rightly say, set on an island (based on Walney Island off the Cumbrian coast where I grew up). As your earlier commenter suggested. perhaps there is something about setting a book on an island which encourages darker themes. Though my book may not start out dark it certainly gets there in the end. Perhaps it is the idea of isolation or being cut off which leads to this? Anyone who wants to find out more about my book can do so on my blog here. http://songoftheseagod.wordpress.com/

Karl Drinkwater said...

Hi Chris, thanks for commenting! I can't remember which of my friends recommended your book, but the synopsis sounded like a great read. I think you're right, the fear of being cut off makes islands places of both fear and, conversely, safety (thinking of how many zombie works involve heading to an island as a survival tactic!).