Desert Island Books: My all-time must reads

Updated: May 12

There really is nothing like getting stuck into a good book. Whilst this has become a little trickier over the years thanks to the abundance of choice on Netflix, it is worth re-training yourself to read even just a few pages, before bed, on the bus or tube, or literally any moment you can squeeze it in. To help you get back into the swing of things, or to inspire your next book purchase, here are a few of my most favourite reads that will have you hooked in seconds.

The Island of Sea Women - Lisa See

This is undoubtedly the best book I read in 2019. The book is set on the South Korean island of Jeju - renown for its fierce female sea divers: The Haenyeno - and follows the lives and friendships of two young girls: Mija and Young-sook. Set over many decades through the Japanese colonialism of the 1930s and 1940s, World War II, the Korean War, and the era of cellphones and wet suits for the women divers, this book has it all! It is extremely dramatic, gripping and deeply moving as it describes this unique matriarchal society.

Educated - Tara Westover

This memoir recounts the life of Tara Westover who was born to Mormon survivalists in the Idaho mountains. A world a way from my own, I found this book shocking and jaw-dropping, questioning how it could be a true story. She narrates her life up to modern day, describing how she had no formal education until she was 17 but went on to achieve a PhD. She recalls how her family prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and building a bunker (even more chilling in the light of COVID-19) and didn't believe in the health or educational system.

Educated is truly extraordinary. A perfect one for book club as it is guaranteed to stimulate debate, as we follow Tara in her struggle for self-identity navigating through her unorthodox upbringing.

Rebecca - Daphne de Maurier

This is an absolute classic and one that was first recommended to me by my mum. The opening line 'Last night I dreamt I was at Manderley again' has become famous in the literary world and sets the stage for what is a dramatic, suspenseful and beautifully written novel. It truly caters for everyone including: romance, horror, crime and mystery.

Rebecca is a tale relatable to all as it deals with themes of the struggle for identity, competition between women and romance. The beautiful, sinister descriptions of Manderley bring the gothic mansion to life; exacerbating the protagonists discomfort within it as it quivers with Rebecca's haunting presence.

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men - Caroline Criado Perez

Invisible Women is a must read for EVERYONE. One that I think should be part of school curriculums, read by our governments and absorbed by all to understand the ongoing and ever present disparity between men and women that means 50% of the population is systematically ignored and unaccounted for!

Perez's blurb reads: 'Imagine a world where your phone is too big for your hand, where your doctor prescribes a drug that is wrong for your body, where in a car accident you are 47% more likely to be seriously injured, where every week the countless hours of work you do are not recognised or valued. If any of this sounds familiar, chances are that you're a woman'.

Invisible Women presents a catalogue of facts and figures that documents the persistent gender inequalities world wide. Whilst some facts shocked me; revealing gender data gaps I was unaware of, it mostly proved useful and comforting as it validated the inequality I'm all too aware of and supported it with undeniable evidence. The book reignited the fire within in me to not sit idly by and allow sexism to prevail and has sparked incredibly interesting discussions amongst my family. Highly recommend.

Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë

This classic has been one of my favourites since I read it during my A-Levels and one that I couldn't leave off my all time favourite reads. Don't be put off by the small font, well-known storyline or thinking that it is just a boring love story - there's so much more to it!

Jane Eyre is a character that transcends her time, a heroine that breaks the mould of what a Victorian woman should be. It is beautifully written, dramatic and gripping, gifting us a window into what life was like for a woman during the 1800s.


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