Top Five #024: Top Five Things We Are Too Old For, But Love Anyway

Top Five #026: Top Five Books on the Desert Island

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything… from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

Stranded on a desert island for the rest of your life, what top five books would you want to read for the rest of your life?


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  1. First off, thank you for the multi-layered HIMYM/80’s commercial joke there Matthew.

    Now for my list –

    5. The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy “trilogy” – As Matthew and that other guy said, this is a great series that is a very enjoyable read.
    4. The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness by Yongey Mingur Rinpoche – If I’m stuck on an island, I might need a reminder about how to accept and embrace happiness.
    3. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – A fun romp through the apocalypse. I quite enjoyed both the characterizations of the main angel and demon in the book.
    2. Wyrm by Mark Fabi – Set on the eve of Y2K, this novel revolves around a group of computer experts uncovering a massive computer Wyrm that could threaten society. To further investigate, they delve into a massive MMORPG that connects every MUD, MUSH, and similar RPG online. Great times.
    1. The Heritage of Shannara by Terry Brooks – this is my cheat. Four novels set in a fantasatic world that came about as a result of massive nuclear war. These were the first novels I ever read (the third book was actually the first ever when I was in kindergarten), and they have a special place in my heart because of this.

    • wo man, the world you’ve known till that point ends, and you have to live on a desert island, and 7 of your books are about the world ending? That’s a bit hardcore man. I think I’d take something like the complete collected works of Bill Waterson or something that would make me smile.

      • Well, the Shannara series really isn’t about the world ending. It is actually set thousands of years later, and the world ending is just an interesting backdrop to what otherwise appears like an ordinary fantasy story. The first book in the entire setting is pretty much a reskinning of Lord of the Rings (which the author admits and regrets). The tetralogy I mentioned is actually the second set in the setting and focuses on the descendants of the protagonists from the original trilogy.

  2. For practicality: The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Extreme Edition by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht.
    For spiritul comfort: Cosmos by Carl Sagan
    For pure escapism: The Nights Dawn Trilogy by Peter F Hamilton
    For a beloved classic: The Collected Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle
    And for laughing my ass of: How to Be a Super Hero, Save the Universe in Thirty Days or Your Money Back by Mark Leigh, Mike Lepine, Steve Dillon.

  3. 5. Jack Hamm’s Cartooning the Head and Figure. The Best cartooning ‘how to’ book ever! I can just look at it for hours and hours. The illustrations in this book are the best. Hamm is an unappreciated cartoonist these days, but the range of his skills are fully on display here.

    4. The Art of Shen Ku by Zeek – A comic meets philosophy, meets encyclopedia. This book is full of things like knots, building shelters, nutrition, excercise, martial arts, even first aid. Useful and fun.

    3. Revelation X: The Bob Apocryphon – by the Subgenius Foundation. High Weirdness, UFOs, Yeti. X Day! The World Ends Tomorrow and You May Die!

    2. Prometheus Rising- by Robert Anton Wilson. Wilson’s non-fiction books about having fun with your brain. Useful, and full of exercises to pass the time while you’re on a desert island. The Quarter experiment should prove interesting…

    1. Illuminatus! – by Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea. This is really, like, 23 books in one. It contains a mystery story, a political thriller, a great love story, gang wars, a megalomaniacal submarine captain, Lovecraftian monsters, hookers, their loathsome pimp, and maybe even the end of the world. It is a treatise on politics, it is an occult manual, it is the worst kind of trash. It is a post-modern mindbender full of graphic violence and prurient pornographic sex scenes. You won’t be the same person after reading it. Read it again, and you won’t be that person either. I can’t say enough about this book. Recommended.

  4. Bill Massicott on


    Just wanted to way in with my top 5 books:

    1. Blind Trust: How Deregulation Has Jeopardized Airline Safety and What You Can Do About It; John J. Nance (1986)

    2. The Nine Nations of North America; Joel Garreau (1982)

    3. The Fifties; David Halberstam (1984)

    4. Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando; Richard E. Foglesong (2003)

    5. Cocoanut Grove: A Spellbinding Account of the Most Famous Fire in American History; Edward Keyes (1984)

    Honorable Mentions:

    The $1 League: The Rise and Fall of the United States Football League; Jim Byrne (1987)

    Crossfire: The Plot that Killed Kennedy; Jim Marrs (1989)

    Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq; Stephen Kinzer (2007)

  5. 1. The Boy Scout Handbook or some other practical, survival book for making fire, treating injuries, etc.

    2. A HUGE oversized coffee-table book full of full colour prints of art work. This is the kind of book you really could look through over and over and over and always see new things, have new experiences, etc.

    3. Le Morte D’Arthur by Mallory. A big collection of stories and a book I just love.

    4. Collected works of Socrates/Plato.

    5. Playboy: The Complete Centrefolds hardcover collection

  6. 1001 nights – lots of stories in there
    The biggest Philip K Dick short story collection I can find
    God created the integers by stephen Hawking – its a collection of works by great mathematicians
    Standing on the shoulder of giants – its the same thing as the previous one but with physics.
    The best survival book I can find in order to make it

    So I have entertainment, something to learn and something to keep me alive.

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