WHAT BOOK would Anthony Doerr take to a desert island?

WHAT BOOK would Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anthony Doerr take to a desert island?

  • Anthony Doerr is currently reading Losing Eden: Why Our Minds Need The Wild
  • He would take The Story And Its Writer, edited by Ann Charters to a desert island
  • Author said Finnegans Wake by James Joyce left him cold 

. . . are you reading now?

Losing Eden: Why Our Minds Need The Wild by Lucy Jones.

I’m only on Page 93, but so far Jones has penned a beautiful survey of the latest science suggesting something our grandmothers knew all along: that getting outdoors is good for us.

From the way plants can teach us resilience to how little moments under the sky can bring awe and gratitude into our lives, science is proving just how deeply the cycles and rhythms of the natural world have been knitted into our every cell.

This book will want to make you drown your smartphone in the kitchen sink and hustle out into the garden.

Anthony Doerr (pictured) would take The Story And Its Writer, edited by Ann Charters to a desert island

. . . would you take to a desert island?

I’d cheat and bring a book that contains loads of different writers: The Story And Its Writer, edited by Ann Charters.

At 1,600 onionskin pages, it contains more than 100 short stories by authors from all over the world, arranged alphabetically from Chinua Achebe to Richard Wright. The book probably weighs two kilograms, so it’s not easy to lug around, but it has been a touchstone for me for basically all my adult life, and it introduced me to story writers as disparate and amazing as Angela Carter, Italo Calvino, Alice Munro and Guy de Maupassant.

. . . first gave you the reading bug?

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. It’s so frisky, so full of weird wisdom; it was the first time I realised that language itself could be deployed just for the sake of joy.

It made me want to devote my life to playing around with words.

. . . left you cold?

Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. I am regularly moved by the beauty of the stories in Dubliners, and I found so much energy and strangeness and delight in Ulysses, but I have never been able to turn more than a page or two of Finnegans Wake without giving up.

This, I’m sure, is a result of my own deficiencies — plus the fact that I’ve never sought a teacher to help me through Joyce’s dream-language — but every time I get to ‘Brékkek Kékkek Kékkek Kékkek! Kóax Kóax Kóax!’ I start looking longingly at my bookshelves for some Hilary Mantel.

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr is published by 4th Estate, £20.

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