Measured Extravagance

24 October 2001 - 8:34 p.m.

Top 5 Desert Island books? Hmmm. As of this moment, I’d want

(1) 501 French Verbs, so I could finally get a grip on them,

(2) Paris Out of Hand, by Karen Elizabeth Gordon, because the cute little tourguide symbols alone would keep me occupied for hours,

(3) The Collected Poems of W.H. Auden, because I wouldn’t get bored both dissecting them and using them as springboards for new poems of my own,

(4) A good gigantic art history book with lots of plates, to help inspire hallucinations suitable for sketching into the sand, and

(5) An Element of Lavishness: the Letters of Sylvia Townsend Warner and William Maxwell, for when I just want to be comforted.

An ironic aspect of this exercise is that I usually pack what I consider “disposable” reading for my travels – cheap mysteries and bodice-rippers to be left behind in hotel rooms, the most recent issues of Sports Illustrated and Saveur -- the Top Five list of Books I’m Most Likely to Have With Me on a Desert Island would be a different critter indeed…

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