What's on Your Desert Island Bookshelf?

If you were marooned on a desert island and could only bring a handful of books with you--let's say five--which ones would you pick? Big Think asks Stephen Greenblatt, the bestselling author of Will in the World, a biography of Shakespeare.

If you were marooned on a desert island and could only bring a handful of books with you--let's say five--which ones would you pick? Who better to ask than Stephen Greenblatt, the father of the New Historicist movement in literary theory and the bestselling author of Will in the World, a biography of Shakespeare.

"Why just five?" Greenblatt protested, as any big thinker would. Then Greenblatt added that he would just bring an iPad with hundreds of books on it (although how many could he possibly read, we countered, before his 10-hour battery would be spent?).

And so, if constrained to only five, this is what Greenblatt would bring. Tell us your picks in the comments below.


 1. Shakespeare
(Not much of a surprise here)
2. Montaigne
"Probably my favorite writer in the world"

"I adore the book and I think that it would sustain reading and rereading."

4. The King James Bible
"For the language of the King James Bible and the incredible beauty of that early 17th century language."

5. Lucretius' On The Nature of Things
"A magnificent poem," and the subject of Greenblatt's latest book, The Swerve. "I think it would actually give you some recurrent consolation if you’re trapped on a desert island, god forbid, for a long time."

Here is Greenblatt describing the fundamental significance of On The Nature of Things:


Photo Credit: Zlatko Guzmic/Shutterstock.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

10 books to check out from Jordan Peterson's 'Great Books' list

The Canadian professor has an extensive collection posted on his site.

Jordan Peterson with Carl Jung and the cover art of Jaak Panksepp's 'Affective Neuroscience' (Image: Chris Williamson/Getty Images/Big Think)
Personal Growth
  • Peterson's Great Books list features classics by Orwell, Jung, Huxley, and Dostoevsky.
  • Categories include literature, neuroscience, religion, and systems analysis.
  • Having recently left Patreon for "freedom of speech" reasons, Peterson is taking direct donations through Paypal (and Bitcoin).
Keep reading Show less

Your body’s full of stuff you no longer need. Here's a list.

Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.

Image source: Ernst Haeckel
Surprising Science
  • An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
  • Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
  • Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
Keep reading Show less

Should you invest in China's stock market? Know this one thing first.

Despite incredible economic growth, it is not necessarily an investor's paradise.

Videos
  • China's stock market is just 27 years old. It's economy has grown 30x over that time.
  • Imagine if you had invested early and gotten in on the ground floor.
  • Actually, you would have lost money. Here's how that's possible.