Updated: Oct 24, 2020
From my literary favorites to my new loves, here are the books I couldn't bear to leave behind when I moved to the Maldives
At 1122 pages, lugging this gorgeous cloth-bound collection from Ireland to the Maldives was a big commitment and one that I really had to think about. For all of thirty seconds. Its weight hung on my shoulder across many tubes, four flights, two bus journeys and a twenty minute boat ride, but the weight was worth it. I feel endlessly excited by Didion’s elegant yet incisive style, her writing both informing and transporting, personal yet all-encompassing. This Everyman edition includes seven of her greatest non-fiction works, from Slouching Towards Bethlehem to Where I Was From. I plan to get to know Joan as well as I can while I’m here.
Rosita Boland’s travel memoir Elsewhere is nothing short of magic. It’s an ideal companion for the sole wanderer and a thrilling way to see the world if you’re staying put. Comprised of nine essays that follow Rosita as she treks across the globe, we get an intimate portrayal not only of the trips she made, but of the moments that made her. I held my breath as her rickety bus teetered along the razor thin edge of a Pakistani mountain. I read in disbelief as her rubber boat became frozen into Antarctica’s Lemaire Channel. I felt so alive as she scoured the floor of an Australian bar, searching for a boar’s tooth. In it there is love, loss and an insatiable hunger for adventure. I longed for Elsewhere the moment I finished reading it. It isn't published until the end of May, but in the meantime you can whet your appetite with Rosita's essay for the Guardian on the freedom of solo travel.
What a book. Based on Fleetwood Mac and with echoes of A Star is Born, Daisy Jones & The Six chronicles the rapid rise and sudden split of the 70s biggest rock group, as told by members of the band in honest and immersive interviews which reveal for the first time the reason behind their mysterious break-up when at the height of their career. It’s a riot of talent, egos, sex, drink, love, youth, mistakes and music. I finished it in a day and spent the next reminiscing about gigs I had never been to, for a band that never existed. Not prepared to leave Daisy behind so soon, I brought her with me.
I first read this when I was seventeen and I’ve been collecting as many editions as I can find ever since. Written as a response to Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea sought to tell the ‘other side’, the story of Bronte’s ‘mad woman in the attic’ Antoinette Mason, and to finally give a voice to the Creole woman in literature. It’s the first book that made me consider the importance of writing, the dialogue it can create and the difference it can make to our world view. Every sentence in this layered story sings and I’ve yet to find another writer like Rhys, an author adept at delivering a powerful punch with the lightest of touch.
I just couldn’t help myself. For me, Bridget Jones’s Diary is the ultimate comfort read, and I thought it might be wise to bring a friend like her along when moving so far from home. There is such a timelessness to Fielding’s creation and such fun in her writing, that no matter how many times I read this it never gets old. Bloody Mark Darcy.