Three Books and a Shipwreck

Guest post on Cheryl’s Book Nook

Imagine I’ve survived a shipwreck—thrown into churning water, the ship sinking before my eyes, huge waves, sharp rocks, dragged across coral to be washed up on the beach, gasping like a dying fish exposed to air.

And yet, I’ve managed to preserve three books to keep me company while airplanes search for survivors 500 miles in the wrong direction.

I must have put these favorite books in a waterproof envelope, taped it closed, and strapped it to my body before I flung on the life preserver. Because, of course, what else would I save in a disaster besides my three favorite books?

Let’s hope I also had the presence of mind to place a flashlight, flip flops, lighter, and a few packets of meals-ready-to-eat in that waterproof bundle.

So we’ll go with that. I’ve made it onto the beach, stopped screaming for help, and decided to do something about my crisis. I gather whatever natural material burns and light a signal fire. From the beach, I pick up any useful implements that have washed up from the boat. I find a fresh water source, invent a way to contain the water, build a shelter, eat sparingly from my MREs, settle down on the sand, and…whip out my favorite book.

You see this now, right? The light from my fire illuminates the page. There’s a gentle after-storm breeze. Palms sway above me. And I’m reading…Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe because here’s a protagonist who’s been through this before and knows all the tricks to survive. This is my encyclopedia for living on a desert island. I’ll consult it daily.

The next morning, in a slightly lighter mood, I begin to read One Hundred Years of Solitude, just as a pick me up, something to take my mind off the fact that there’s no one else around. It whisks me away to a magical realm where anything can happen. Gabriel Garcia Marquez takes my breath away, even in the middle of a disaster.

I plan to make my own island into a utopia…somehow. Even if it takes generations. Of course, for that, I’d need at least one other person to show up, but I can imagine, can’t I? After all, I saved these three books. Imagination must count for something.

A year goes by. I’m a slow reader. I’m now walking around wearing the skin of some poor indigenous animal I’ve killed, or if I can’t bear to do that, the remaining rags of the clothes on my back when the ship went down. But I’ve learned how to fish and grill seaweed, so I’m good.

I’m reading All the Light We Cannot See, an absolutely delicious tale of things going really badly for two young people during World War II. I plan to read Anthony Doerr’s novel again and again, even if I’m rescued.

For Cheryl’s review of my second Sam Lagarde mystery, No Good Deed Left Undone, go to Cheryl’s Book Nook


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