In the January 2020 Newsletter, I asked the readers if they were stranded on a desert island, what book series would they want with them.

Here are the responses:

Brigitte: New subscriber here. If I were stranded on an island and could only have one series on hand to read, it would have to be Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. I have been a fan for about 20 years and have re-read them several times. (Yes, there is now a television series, but it’s just not the same.) Gabaldon’s books have layers and layers in them and new bits are noticed each time they are read. I’ll never tire of them.

Terry: In response to your question “If you were stranded on a desert island with only one book series, what would it be?”, I would have to say it’s a close tie between the “Travis McGee” series by John D. MacDonald OR the “Doc Ford” series by Randy Wayne White.
Not only are there many books in each series, the books keep you on the edge of your seat with action and adventure (not to mention they both fit into the “tropical island” theme of the question….hahaha).

Kenicia: I would want the “Just William” series of books by Richmal Crompton if I was on a desert island. The series has almost 40 titles, and they are hilarious. I know I would want something funny to read to take my mind off my fear and worry.

Mark: The Spenser series by Robert b Parker and continued by ace Atkins are my personal faves.
Stephanie Plum by Janet evanovich will keep your spirits up as well

Norma: “Stranded on a deserted island….” Must go with you on the Myron Bolitar series. I’m a glass ½ full person so would definitely be rescued by the time I’d finished the last book in the series. And if not, well I’d begin the series all over again as Myron and cohorts are worth a 2nd, 3rd, even a 10th read.

If I was allowed a 2nd choice of book…it’s be the Michael Connelly Bosch series just cuz I’m watching the Bosch tv series right now on Crave TV. Also worth reading again ‘n again.

Lise: Good Afternoon

You have asked the question “if I was stranded on an island alone, what series of books would I want” and this would be the series by Peter Robsinson with the main character “DCI Banks”. I always wait for the next one to come along, but unfortunately so far I have read the last one and I have my fingers crossed that he will write the next one.

I also loved Michael Connelly’s series on Bosch – another favorite

Love you column and look forward to it each month because I am always looking for new writers etc.

Have a great day

Kristi: I think I would go with the Inspector Gamache series by Louise Penny. It’s about 15 rather lengthy books long now, and is just excellent and satisfying in all the most important ways: great plots, great characters with complex relationships, rich and interesting settings, and even wonderful audiobook narrators. Oh! And a dog! What else could a castaway need?

Wait! Graeme! I continued reading the newsletter and in the mailbag section, I was reminded about the Flavia De Luce series by Alan Bradley! Wonderful! LOVE IT!! OH! Now I’m torn! Thank goodness I don’t actually have to make this choice!

Nancy: Hmm, only one series on a desert island? I’d have to say JRR Tolkien’s Hobbit, LOTR, Silmarillion (the first 2 of which I’ve read at least 20 times already). They are full of adventure, magic, drama, noble & not-so-noble characters, characters experiencing redemption, characters who lose their souls to evil, joy & sorrow & the gamut of human emotion, good vs evil with good triumphant at the end even thought it is bittersweet.
A perfect combination to keep me from going crazy on that island.

Jan: Definitely, my books would be the Craig Johnson “Longmire” series. I’ve enjoyed all of them and would not mind reading them again. The setting…Wyoming…is beautiful. It’s easy to picture the mountains, ranches, towns….sunrises and sunsets. Each book has you wondering if Walt is going to live through this one. (Sometimes barely). They follow in a nice progression, as the lives of the characters change, grow and, sometimes, end. I always look forward to The next book.

Chris: Hi Graeme, I hope the new year is starting off right for you. As far as the book series I’d most want to have with me on a desert island, there is no question it would be the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. There are eight books so far (soon to be nine) and they are huge and detailed and full of fascinating beings who live in interesting times. It is much more complex than people who haven’t read the books would believe. The characters grow and develop over time and have internal struggles, like real people. In short, it is the only series I would want to read again and again (and have).

Virginia: In response to your question about what series would be good to have if stranded on a desert island, I would choose the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. There are 8 books in the series but they each run to 7-, 8-, 900 pages or more. Great historic fiction with lots of action. It begins in Scotland in the 1700’s and travels to France and the United States during the Revolutionary War.

Kathy: If I were stranded on a deserted island (that takes me back to elementary school writing about summer vacation), I would bring “Lucas Davenport” , aka “Prey” series by John Sandford. If I could get away with a hidden stash, I would include “Virgil Flowers”!
LOL and thanks for making me think this morning.

Vicki: Although only six books, if I have to get stranded for the rest of my life, it should be the Narnia series.

Vianna: my favorite series of the year would have to be Fern Michaels Sisterhood series, it is amazing what a bunch of empowered women cna do!

Toni: Happy New Year! Well, for a reader stranded on a desert island, there isnt any series long enough! I would have to say that I’d go with Karen Slaughter’s Grant County which transitioned to Will Trent series. So it’s really 2 series in one.

Tom: Hi Graeme. There is no normal life, no ups and downs, victories or tragedies…there is just life. I am working hard to come to that place. It is so much more peaceful and care free. Stranded on a desert island I might take along “87th Precinct” by Ed McBain – 1956 to 2005 – 54 novels. I have never read any of them and it would be a new experience. There must have been some good ones to run a series for 50 years. Then perhaps when I have read them over and over and over, I might need to eat them or burn them to stay warm. Who knows? Then again, I might pass on before having finished the series. Or, maybe continue writing more books for the series of my own device. I guess it would be better to have too many of a not so great series than too few of a really good series. Take care,

Sue: I would have James Patterson and the Alex Cross series but another one is Iris Johansen and the Eve Duncan series. So far to date 25 books and a new one to come out this year. Have you ever tried her books? The Eve Duncan series is pretty interesting. I read Night and Day and didn’t enjoy that one as much but the beginning of her series are awesome. I love your recommendations for new reading material but I can barely keep up. I so enjoy receiving your monthly emails.

Ila: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this question since I read so much. But I never tire of answering it as my answers have changed as my reading tastes change with my age. Have you noticed that as well?

Not so many years ago it would have been Stephen King’s Dark Tower series simply because of all the hidden codes in the book, one being how many times can you find the #19? He says no one has still found them all, and no one has found out what the meaning of them are. I like a good puzzle, no I love a good puzzle but I’m afraid he’ll leave this good earth without leaving the answer behind for us to know.

In the present time I would pick the Matthew Corbett series by Robert McCammon. However that desert island will have to wait for another 2 years as there are 2 more books yet to come in the series according to Robert. He didn’t plan for there to be 9 books in the series but the story, according to him, does what it needs to do.

If I have to travel immediately I would pack up all of the Andrew Vachss books to take with me.

Thanks for revisiting this question that I believe readers never tire of speculating about. Have a wonderful 2020.

Sandi: If I were stranded on a desert island and could only have one book series of would have to be the In Death series by J. D. Robb. I absolutely love the Eve Dallas character along with the rest of the characters in the series! This series is the one I most recommend to people. I have re-read several of the books already and general enjoy them equally as well the second or third time through.

Sandi: If I were stranded on an island, I would want to have all the Michael Connelly books with me. Love the Harry Bouch series. I find it odd that you are just now reading his books. I come from a State Police background with two sons on the police force ( one a detective with a local PD and one with the FBI). Harry Bouch series is now including a young woman officer and this appears to be a great series. I also love Lucas Danvenport and Virgil Flowers series with author John Sandford. And, of course, books by John Lescroart and Greg Iles.

Ruth V: I am thrilled to let you know that i discovered Louise Penny. Her detective Chief Inspector Gamache is to die for. The author’s description of Quebec makes you feel as if you are there in midst of the village trying to solve the crime and feeling the seasons as they change from book to book. The books should be read in order. There are 15 I think. The characters move along grow and some change. I can’t say enough of what a superb author she is.

Ruth: Hello!

I enjoy reading your newsletter every month and I’ve found some new authors and been reacquainted with ones not read in years.

My desert island series is Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache, the first I’ve ever begun to reread.

Roger: Channeling the spirit of ‘desert island discs’ I might take C.S Foresters Hornblower, being born in 1947. Might get some hints on boatbuilding too!

Terry Pratchett came a very close second.

Rich: The Parker books by Richard Stark (aka Donald E Westlake)
There were 24 books in the series.
Books 1-16 from 1962 to 1974
then, incredibly, after 23 years, books 17-24 from 1997 to 2008
Sadly, the series hadn’t ended, but Westlake died on 12-31-2008

The books are hard, lean, hard-boiled but very enjoyable.

puzzlenutty: Hi Graeme,
For me it would be Louise Penny’s Inspector Armand Gamache series.

Keith: Hi Graeme,
It I could have only one, it would be the Burke series by Andrew Vachss. The series was written over a span of 25 years, and I really enjoyed how Burke’s criminal strategies and tactics had to change to stay current with evolving technologies. I particularly like the earlier books in the series, but have reread them all at least once.
Thanks for the newsletter and your always helpful website.

Phoenix: At the risk of sounding like a one-trick pony, if I had to bring one series of books to a desert island, it would have to be the Sister Frivesse mysteries by Margaret Frazer. One would think books about a nun in the 14th century would be deadly dull, I find these books keep my interest, no matter how many times I’ve read them. In fact, about once a year, I simply start at the first book, and read all 17 straight through! Of course, there’s also the Outlander series, or Harry Potter, or the Mitford series by Jan Karon. Do I have to choose? Can’t I bring them all?

Pete: Which series for an island is tough! Do all of W E B Griffin’s military count as one series?
OK, a list in descending order –

L E Modesitt’s Recluse
Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire
Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar
F van Wyck Mason’s Hugh North

I could go on, but I don’t expect to be shipwrecked more than four times.

Order of Books is really handy!

Paul/Sharon: Robert Crias’s Joe Pike and the rest of his books.
I’d read them again and again. Never tire of the series.
I look forward to his next book.

Pam: Graeme, Sorry about the losses you’ve suffered this year. I hope the New Year brings peace and happiness to you and yours.

This was another great newsletter and right on time. I love to answer the questions you pose, but this one is definitely hard to answer. Horseclans by Robert Adams (1933-1990) an 18 book series in Post-Apocalyptic America. I was just thinking about how much I loved this series, and if I was ever tempted to re-read books, this could be the series. I have too many books to want to do that, but being stranded on an island with no way to get more books, this would be a contender.

Of course, I’d also consider Clive Cussler (as long as all books are included and not just one of his series), the same with W.E.B. Griffin (I hope his son will continue his father’s work. Those are some awesome books.), Jane Haddam’s Gregor Demarkian series; The Dragonlance series (as long as anything that is part of that universe is included); Edith Pargeter (Ellis Peters) Brother Cadfael as well as other series she wrote; Robert Heinlein; Isaac Asimov; James Michener; Sara Paretsky; John Ringo; Harry Turtledove; Kenneth Robeson (Doc Savage); Edgar Rice Burroughs; the various Star Trek books, (100 of which I can see from where I’m sitting, and I know there are more in other parts of the house. That’s probably enough for now.

Do I have a place to keep print books? Do I get to have a Kindle with unlimited power source so that I can adjust the size of the font (I’m 68 and it’s not as easy to read as it once was. I need way more light than I once did and my arthritis doesn’t care as much for holding physical books.). Anyway, you got my brain bubbling as you usually do.

I did use your site to order the new Nick Petrie book. I hadn’t realized until I saw something today that if I started from your site, you would benefit. I don’t mind doing that at all, but usually I pre-order books as soon as Amazon tells me about them.

I just recently discovered Alex Kava’s Ryder Creed series which lead me to Maggie O’Dell and now I’m going to have to read those.

mnelms: If I were stranded on an island the books I would choose is the outlander series. These books are long and rich in detail. Historically accurate as far as I can tell. Culturally diverse and well thought out characters. Although I never read a book twice because there is so much out there to read I think that you may pick up on things you missed on a second reading

Mishawn: If stranded on an island, I would want to bring along the whole collection of John Sanford books!

Mike: either terry brooks complete shannara series or issac asimov from i robot to the end of foundation

Max: Hi Graeme,

What series of books to take along to a desert island? Good question, and a tough one! One idea might be the Harry Bosch crime series by Michael Connelly. Coben’s Bolitar series that you mentioned would be another good choice. Another really good idea is John Sandford’s fantastic Prey series starring Lucas Davenport. In fact, Sandford with his beautiful writing style would be my top choice for the best crime/mystery series, if it were limited to that genre. And then I have to mention the wonderful Harry Potter books, but there are only seven of them.

So…upon reflection, my first choice would be the twenty Aubrey/Maturin seafaring novels by Patrick O’Brian! Yes, it is an acquired taste and, yes, they get a bit repetitive after the first twelve books or so — but I could keep re-reading those first dozen books forever! Patrick O’Brian — that’s my choice.

Marika: I actually have thought about this over the years and my choice has remained steadfast: The Lord of the Rings ….and The Chronicles of Narnia. I’m cheating and bringing 2 series. It’s MY island,after all!

Maria: If I were stranded on an island I would read Janet Evanovich The Stephanie Plum series. They have mystery, a little romance and comedy in every book. There are 27 books in the series and that could keep you going for awhile. Stephanie gets into a lot of situations that could take your mind off of your own problems for awhile. I enjoy her books

M-R: How is your .. shoulder, was it ? Sorry: at my age I bloody forget just about everything. Sighh ..

May I suggest an Irish author who now lives here in Victoria, Australia – Adrian McKinty ? Specifically his Sean Duffy series:

Irresistible reading. 🙂

Many thanks for all your much-appreciated work on your site, and Happy Noo Yurr !

Marcia: I usually send a reply to each month’s newsletter but the last 2 months were kind of crazy. First of all, let me say that I am so sorry for your losses in 2019. They are devastating in and of themselves and having had losses like that myself, I pray for you.

I enjoy your newsletter every month, it’s like I wait for a long note from a friend BUT I have to say that you are overloading me with ideas of more books to read! Do you ever feel overwhelmed because there are so many out there and you can’t seem to put a dent in your “to read” list? I am 65 and I feel very frantic sometime that I won’t get them all read. Wonder if they have libraries in heaven?

Your questions are getting harder to answer! At least for me. I thought hard about the series I would choose.

1. Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne books.
2. Nancy Drew (I show my age)
3. Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson series.
4. Any of Debbie Macomber series.
5. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter.
6. C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles.

I rule out Ludlum and Lewis because their series are not long enough. I ruled out Nancy Drew because I think I would get bored eventually. I ruled out Fluke’s Swenson because of the recipes she includes in the books, I would drive myself crazy wanting those goodies. So it came down to Macomber and Rowling.

As always, I would choose Harry Potter. Adults loving a children’s series but I didn’t look at those books as a children’s book series. I equated it to WWII. The Wizarding world (Europe). Voldemort (Hitler). And the battle was good v. evil, Voldemort taking over the world through hate and prejudice. And someone had to stand up and fight. After many had already been murdered, little by little.

These books would keep me happy.

BTW, our book club chose your recommendation “The One” by John Marrs for our May read. I am looking forward to reading it.

I do have one question for you. Do you read only series or do you do 50/50 series and standalones? I lean toward standalones because I like differences and series seem to get stale after a while, i.e. Alex Cross. But I am currently working on Louise Penny’s Gamache series and a couple more.

I’m sure it’s easy to just post your reader email but I always talk about so many other things, like we’re friends, so I find other peoples emails very short/succinct and mine ramble on. Sorry!

Linda: Oh, my, your January newsletter was the best. How can I keep up with those recommendations? I hit my next highest books read last year at 82. My all time high was 95 set in 1991, one of the years I worked as a librarian in our local library. It was such fun finding old and new books to read. Now I absolutely cannot go to an island with one book series. There are two I could not go without. Of course, Mitch Rapp series and Inspector Gamache. I could read these over and over. Now that I became a kindle owner I am finding that my reading has increased as it is easier to read than the printed page. I have tons of books on my shelf to catch up on, but can’t seem to resist adding a new kindle-lol. Thank you once again for excellent choices. I am ready to add them to my kindle. Have a great new year with lots of reading and family time.

L: Happy New Year Order Of Books! Personally quantity of books would have to be the major factor in choosing what to read. I would choose the Stone Barrington series by Stuart Woods! They’re a ton of books in this series and all can be read without regret. The cast of characters are likable and the adventures they have are great fun and usually make the villains look like idiots! I like that! Stay warm and stick the your resolutions!

Kris: If you were stranded on a desert island with only one book series, what would it be?

Seriously?!? You’ll only let me pick one? I guess it would be the JD Robb “In Death” series. If you’d let me have two, I’d add the “Merry Gentry” series from Laurell K Hamilton. And heck, while I’m dreaming, the “Malory” series from the recently departed (absolutely heartbroken!) Johanna Lindsey for thirdsies. Lol.

Doris: My vote for a book series while stranded is Stuart Woods. Plenty of reading material and just love his character(s).

Katherine: All of James Herriot’s books. A trip back in time with memorable characters and great stories to take my mind off of being deserted!

Karen: Stranded on a Deserted Island?? I would suggest 1 book series: The mysteries authored by Charles Todd, whose hero is post WW1 British detective, Ian Rutlege. Rutlege is a complex, engaging and honorable character; this series never disappoints.

Justin: The Michael Connelly series of Bosch tales would be a good bet to have if you were stranded on a desert island in my estimation. I have read all of Connellys books and have yet to be disappointed in one.

Joy: I love the Joe Pickett books by C J Box and if there was a series of books on How To….. I would pick them. Might be a book on How To Build a raft and get off that darn island!

Dave: I would go with the Prey series by John Sanford. I have read them all many times and listen to the audiobooks at the winery. The development of Lucas Davenport and his family and cast of characters have provided hours of enjoyment. I also like how characters of his other series of Virgil Flowers and Kidd are sometimes woven into the plots of the Prey series. Keep up the good work Graeme.

Gary: One of my favourite Series is British author Stephen Leather’s:

“Dan Shepherd Series”

Donald: This months question is a tough one. What series would I want on an island that would keep me entertained knowing that I would have to reread them many times? That is a good question as I have many that I have reread and was not bored with them the second and third time. So do I choose “The Saga of Recluse” by L E Modesitt or “Honor Herrington” by David Weber? I would choose the “Saga of Recluse” since the series is still on going and does not seem to have a finish as of yet. Keep writing my authors and I will continue to read. Have a Happy New Year.

Dick: In response to your “desert island” question I agree with everything you mentioned. Reacher books are great but there are some holes there. Bolitar fun and funny and Rapp amazing but with no hope for future books quite the way Vince Flynn wrote them. Don’t get me wrong I think the new books are really good. Just miss Vince Flynn. All that being said I would take John Sandfords Lucas Davenport “Prey” series. I have read them a few times and have started them again. Also like Baldacci’s Memory Man series. I can’t wait to find out what happens to Amos Decker next, which might be a good thing. I might have to swim for it.

Janet: If I were stranded on a desert island, I would want Catherine Coulter’s FBI series along for the journey. Dillon Savich and Lacey Sherlock, and now Sean, are all terrific characters and the stories never disappoint.

Dale: I would have Anne Perry’s Charlotte and Thomas Perry series with me as I love historical fiction. On a sad note one of my very favorite authors M.K. Beaton (Marion Chesney) passed. A couple years ago it was Sue Grafton. Here is a question for 2020, if your favorite author died do you know of an author with similar writing style and subject. I am hoping for some new authors to discover. Happy 2020🥳I love you newsletters🤩

Corinne: Hi Graeme,

The one series I’d choose to have with me if I were stranded on a desert island are the 16 books in the ‘Realm of the Elderlings’ series by Robin Hobb. I love that world to the depths of my soul! Ok, technically the four ‘Dragon Keeper’ books in that world have no real part in the ‘Fitz and the Fool’ story, but as I do love me some dragons I’d want them included in my book chest. (Because obviously on a desert island with sand and sun and rain and wind, my books would be in a chest rather than a book bag!)

Colleen: I so look forward to your newsletters. You give me lots of ideas for new authors that I haven’t tried before. Some months I just am so bogged down with things to do I don’t get to read them diligently like I like to. We packed them full of information. I think I agree with you about the series that I would love the most would be Myron Bolitar. I also enjoy the MC Beaton books especially with Hamish McBeth.

Claudia: If I was alone on a desert island, I would want the Michael Connelly, Harry Bosch series with me. It is, without a doubt, my favorite series and character.

I have been around a long time and have read a lot of books. I can say with certainty that the best book I have ever read was Michael Connelly’s THE NIGHT FIRE (Harry Bosch), the latest in his Harry Bosch series. The t-shirt I have on is a quote from Harry Bosch.

Christina: Hello there,

If I was stranded on a desert island then I would want the book series by Daniel Silva. I recently finished reading The New Girl. I like his books as there seems to be a lot of truth in his fiction.

Chris: Stranded on a desert island, I’ll need a combination of action and humour to keep me from losing my sanity. I’d also want to read about the adventures of a hero who gives me hope. All this being considered, I’d go with the Harry Dresden series by Jim Butcher. Harry always cracks me up and he always perseveres despite the supernatural world that often stands against him. Yes, he’s the other wizard named Harry, but he’s got much more flair than that Potter fellow and quite a few more books written about him to boot!

Cathi: If you were stranded on a desert island with only one book series, what would it be?

Martin Walker – Bruno, Chief of Police series
–lots of cooking
–great plots

Cheryl: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Carol: The Luke Stone series by JACK MARS:

Any Means Necessary
Oath of Office
Situation Room
Oppose Any Foe
President Elect
Our Sacred Honor
House Divided

I would also want to read my all-time favorite book: The Stand, by Stephen King. Read it in the 1980’s, when I was in my 50’s. I didn’t want it to end so I forced myself to read only 50 pages per day (it has over 1,000 pages!).

And also Brad Thor. A 19 book series!!!

Brad: I would be on my island with the Sharpe Series or Honor Harrington series.

Bev: To answer the question about which book series would I want if stranded on an island — the choices were Harry Potter, Eragon series, and Children of the Earth (Clan of the Cave Bear). I went with the last because it has tons of survival info as well as incredible excitement.

Bette: Hi Graeme:
I would take all the J.A.Jance books – from our homicide detective in Seattle to our Sheriff in Arizona. Have even reread some already.

Barbara: If I could only have one series on a desert island, it would be the Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovich. They start with Midnight Riot. I am re-reading the first 5 and reading #6 for the first time and …. OMG! I had forgotten how much FUN these books are! An original idea (that rivers have God/Godesses attached to them that you can talk to and even make love to and that magic is real and making a comeback, combined with police procedurals) is amazing. Aaronovich is wonderfully descriptive and humorous and I can’t stop grinning as I read them. Graeme, if you haven’t read them before–add them to your MUST READ list, your mind will thank you!

April: I think I would take the Alex Delaware/Milo Sturgis series by Jonathon Kellerman. A very large series, dense reading that makes you think,

agnes: I love the Alex Delaware not only has mystery but it also focuses on his family and friends. Great read.

Bruce: as I sit here reading your site while waiting for cataract surgery at the Hotel Dieu I am thankful fot yhe abikity to enlatge the print and read you monthly newsletter, in respose to you request for a series to read if stranded on a desert island i would have a tough choice between Hatty Bosch, Mitch Rapp, but for overall suspense and conyinous quality, I would have to go with Gabriel Allon by Daniel Silva.

thank you for your monthly newsletter it is deepl apprieciated.

please ignore spelling as my eyesight is very fuzzy

Order of Books » Newsletter » Reader Mailbag: Book Series To Take On A Desert Island

One Response to “Reader Mailbag: Book Series To Take On A Desert Island”

  1. Mojave Son: 3 years ago

    I (Phil) responded, but you don’t have it listed.


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