I read an interesting post on Marie Loughin’s blog this morning about her fears for digital books, and that one day, when civilization crumbles (as it surely must) the digital cloud may evaporate, leaving future generations bereft of reading matter.
Except, of course, for those of us who stockpiled a selection of paper books.
Her solution, then, is to select a list of books she would like to be buried with: “That way, books found when I am exhumed by future archaeologists need not be lost forever.”
You can read her list here.
I love this concept, and decided to make my own list of five novels.
The first book, well, all right, series of books, that springs to mind are the Conan novels, by Robert E Howard. After all, if civilization has collapsed, everybody’s going to be on a steep learning curve in the art of simply surviving, and so a few lessons on sword fighting and axe wielding, distressed damsel rescuing and wizard battering will come in handy. Besides, if you are a fan of fantasy novels and you’ve never read any Conan books, what are you waiting for? You should check them out right now. Because I can only take one it would be The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian.
I decided to restrict this list to five books, but I’m having difficulty sticking to that, so, here’s another series, the Matthew Scudder books, by Lawrence Block. For me Matt Scudder is the greatest American fictional private detective ever. So far there are seventeen Scudder books but, in the interests of keeping this list to five, I would have Eight Million Ways to Die entombed with me. In my opinion it’s not only one of the best of the series, and one of Block’s finest too, but for me it’s always going to mark the midpoint of Scudder’s career. The book is actually number five in order, but Scudder goes through such a life-defining, monumental change in the final pages that it will always be the pivotal novel in the series. I love this book, and the first time I read it, I cried at the end.
You may have noticed that I said Scudder was the greatest American fictional private detective ever. Well, that was only so I wouldn’t have to put him second to Sherlock Holmes. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t have The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in their casket? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle led an amazingly varied life, but he will always be remembered for his Victorian, drug addicted sleuth.
Next up is Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. A great anti-racism book, a plea for tolerance and understanding of those who appear ‘different’, and wonderfully atmospheric, thrilling novel of childhood.
Finally I would have Harry Crews’ The Gospel Singer, partly because I think the idea of one of his books being buried with a corpse might appeal to him, but mainly because it’s an excellent, offbeat, profound book. Set in the sweltering Georgia swamplands, the residents of Enigma (population: 600) await the return of the Gospel Singer, and the hanging of the town’s preacher. Violent, moody, and just downright strange, I’ll be giving this book a full review soon on my other blog Midnight Reads.
So, there you go. Five books to be buried with for future generations to puzzle over once they have exhumed my coffin.
What about you? What books would you take with you? Make your list and link back to it on Marie’s blog in her comments section.