In the event of the apocalypse or some other life-as-we-know-it-altering occurrence, I may not be able to take my whole collection of books with me to the campsite where I will inevitably be surviving (the horror!). You might say, “Hey now, you’re a writer. Can’t you just come up with stories to tell to people for entertainment purposes? You’d be getting back to the roots of the bard and oral history traditions that writers stem from.” Alas, dear reader, no. While you are correct in that I could tell stories to my fellow survivors and probably would if asked, even story creators need outlets and want to hear/read the stories others have written. Therefore, reading materials are a primary requirement—right up there with toothpaste and deodorant—for my post-apocalyptic life. And even though my Kindle would fit quite nicely in a saddle bag (because in the event of the apocalypse, I imagine myself to be a bow-and-arrow-touting, cowgirl), there probably won’t be any electrical outlets to recharge my device.
As a bookworm and a lover of literature, I have a lot of books and being forced to pick just a few to take with me on my journey is like forcing me to pick which children will continue to accompany me through life. The following is my list of 5 books that would make it into my pack if the world were coming to an end because to lose these stories and the meaning they have for me in my life really would be a tragedy of apocalyptic proportions.
1. The Velveteen Rabbit
I have a small paperback version of this book and while there is nothing commercially special about it, it has a message written to me in it from my grandmother. Because of that message, it is invaluable to me and will go everywhere I do as long as I am alive. The story is also heartening and a great escape from what I imagine would be a mentally taxing experience. Also, in the event that there are children at the campsite, I can read it to them. Escapism is great, even if the children are too young to remember life before the apocalypse, right?
2. The Night Circus
By: Erin Morgenstern
The language in this story epitomizes the way I want to write. It is beautiful, sensual and descriptive. When you read this book, it drenches you in a world full of sensory details: the tastes, the sounds, the smells of the circus and you feel yourself plunged into a reverie similar to what the many fans of the Night Circus experience as they wander from tent to tent in this magical realm. Plus, it is just a great love story. It takes the whole Romeo and Juliet plot to a new and ingenious place. This book will keep me entertained every time I read it and the writing will keep me inspired as I continue on my post-apocalyptic journey (or just in regular everyday life).
3. The Shadow of the Wind
By: Carlos Ruiz Zafon
If you haven’t read Carlos Ruiz Zafon, I urge you to remedy this magnanimous error that you have committed by not getting your hands on this book ASAP. The fact that you have not read him is a crime of apocalyptic proportions. Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a modern Gothic writer whose writing, of course, makes me swoon! If any book out there is one that can aspire me to craft new stories to entertain my fellow post-apocalypse survivors, this is it! I get lost in his words and his clever turns of phrase.
4. My notebook full of poetry
The sensual language found in poetry is a luxury that should not be taken lightly. Most certainly a book of poetry will make it into my pack. I have a little notebook that I always carry in my purse. When I come across a new poem that I love and want to remember, I write it down in this notebook. It currently includes the genius of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Baudelaire, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Shakespeare. No one is likely to create a book of poems that contains all of my favorites, so I have been working on making my own. (Please note: I have not been doing this in preparation for the apocalypse. I just like to have them at hand. I don’t actually spend time worrying that the apocalypse will happen.)
5. The Things They Carried
By: Tom O’Brien
Perhaps in an almost ironic twist, I would also include this book. I love this book. It’s great for philosophizing and debating. This book tells the story of a soldier and his platoon in Vietnam during the Vietnam War through the lens of what they carry in their packs. It’s incredibly well-written and is great for keeping the old brain cells twirling. It also would probably end up being easy to relate to since we would be in a war-zone type of situation. It could also help us determine rules and regulations because it proposes ideas concerning right and wrong and assesses how those concepts change in a war situation. In a post-apocalyptic situation (as we have seen in a number of the literary imaginings of the post-apocalyptic world), right and wrong change considerably.
Lastly, I should add that since I am a writer and an obsessive reader, I would probably try to sneak more books along in other nooks and crannies. These would likely include: Mossflower by Brian Jacques (loved those books when I was a kid), Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe, The Awakening by Kate Chopin, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and a whole host of other books too. And, to be quite honest, I’d probably bring my Kindle anyway in the hopes that I would find a way to charge it so I can read it again because it’s loaded with old literature and newer works too!