Books Before Undies

The Family LawFaced with the very real question of what you would take to a deserted island (as by the time you’ll be reading this I’ll be on my way to spend four days sans phone- or internet-access on a boat and almost-deserted islands in the Whitsundays*), I’m once again struck by the paralysis I was when I played this game in primary school.

For while everyone else came up with practical and essentially life-saving ideas—the likes of which included: ‘I’ll take a Swiss Army Knife and will be able to shimmy up the coconut tree and cut down coconuts and spear fish with my lightning-quick reflexes and trusty 5cm blade and corkscrew’—my answer was always: ‘I’ll take a book’.

Admittedly I’d probably die of dehydration and sunburn before I got to the last page, but life-or-death practicalities aside, the concept of me, a book, a beach, and no interruptions is nothing short of bliss. Given that I’ll be on a boat a lot of this time, it’ll be bliss on a boat. But that’s equally inviting and the fact is that the main issue that I’m facing is how to overcome my number one rule (and error): books before undies.

Bitter ChocolateMy logical brain tells me that I will be able to—at best—complete two or three books in four days and probably a lot less given that I’m going on a boat with friends and there will be spectacular coral and aquatic life to marvel at. But my books-before-undies brain tells me that I cannot take anything less than seven books and that such necessities as undies will be turfed from luggage before I’ll take any book out of said bag.

I know this is a rookie mistake. In fact, it’s one I’ve made before, the fallout from which saw me trying to find a 24-hour laundromat in a foreign country in the wee hours of the morning while lugging around tomes of books on my back that I didn’t have time to read.

But to choose just two or three books from the mini mountain of a book stockpile I have on my bedside table? That’s like being asked to choose your favourite…well, something…from your list of favourite somethings.

The Birth WarsAnyway, in spite of my itching to read such worthy and weighty books as:

  • Mary-Rose MacColl’s The Birth Wars, an investigation of the battle between the ‘organics’ and the ‘mechanics’ or natural and interventionist birth practitioners, inspired by the tragic and unnecessary death of a baby in Brisbane
  • Carol Off’s Bitter Chocolate, an examination of the horrific practices that occur in the nations that produce the cocoa that makes up our so-cheap, so-yummy chocolates

I’ve at least been clever enough to opt for some more entertaining, lose-yourself-in-their-pages holiday reading:

Three Cups of TeaBy the time I end up leaving, there’ll be one more book and a few less pair of undies in my bag, but I’m completely ok with that. See you in four book-filled days with some fresh book reviews and some lobster-red sunburned skin.

* I’m not gloating, honest. It’s the first holiday I’ve had in forever, I promise.

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Fiona Crawford

Fiona Crawford is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, proofreader, and voracious reader. She regularly appears as a book reviewer in Australian BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER magazine. Fiona is also (unfairly) known as the Book Burglar due to her penchant for buying family members—then permanently borrowing—books she wants to read herself.