Revealed - the top eight books Brits would take to a desert island

Those familiar with the BBC’s Desert Island Discs will know it’s all about the eight tracks celebrities would be cast away with on a desert island. But what about books?

With everyone staying indoors more due to lockdown, flat-sharing site SpareRoom surveyed almost 4,000 flat-sharers to discover the nation’s eight favourite Desert Island Novels.

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The eight novels that received the most votes were: Pride and Prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Shantaram, The Alchemist, Jane Eyre, The Hobbit and The Great Gatsby.

Jane Austen’s period drama Pride and Prejudice topped the list for flat-sharers - if you’re going to be cast away, why not be cast away a few centuries?

The survey found that the majority of flat-sharers have turned to books as a form of entertainment during the current climate, with almost one in two - 46 per cent - having already re-read or planning to pick-up their favourite book again during lockdown. 

Matt Hutchinson, SpareRoom director, said: “Books are one of the most absorbing, distracting and engaging forms of entertainment available, and it’s interesting to see that nearly half of us have read or are planning to read our favourite book during lockdown.

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“There’s something magical about the way books transport us to other places and let us see the world from a different angle, something we probably crave more than usual right now.

“If the current climate has led people to consume the current bestsellers already, we hope they can turn to this list for a bit of classic inspiration.”

The top eight books are ...

Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenRomantic novel of manners written by Jane Austen in 1813. The novel follows the character development of Elizabeth Bennet, the dynamic protagonist of the book who learns about the repercussions of hasty judgments and comes to appreciate the difference between superficial goodness and actual goodness.Its humour lies in its honest depiction of manners, education, marriage, and money during the Regency era in Great Britain.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenPride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeePublished in 1960. Instantly successful, widely read in schools. It has become a classic of modern American literature, winning the Pulitzer Prize. The plot and characters are loosely based on Lee’s observations of her family, her neighbours and an event that occurred near her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1936, when she was 10.The story, told by the six-year-old Scout, takes place during three years of the Great Depression in the fictional “tired old town” of Maycomb, Alabama, the seat of Maycomb County.

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Scout lives with her older brother Jeremy, nicknamed Jem, and their widowed father Atticus, a middle-aged lawyer. Jem and Scout befriend a boy named Dill, who visits Maycomb to stay with his aunt each summer. The three children are terrified, yet fascinated by their neighbor, the reclusive Arthur “Boo” Radley who becomes embroiled in a trail for sexual assault.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

1984 by George OrwellA dystopian novel which centres on the consequences of government overreach, totalitarianism, mass surveillance, and repressive regimentation of all persons and behaviours within society.Should strike a chord in these times.

Shantaram by Gregory David RobertsA thick tome about a convicted Australian bank robber and heroin addict who escapes from Pentridge Prison and flees to India.The novel is commended by many for its vivid portrayal of tumultuous life in Bombay.The novel is reportedly influenced by real events in the life of the author, though some claims made by Roberts are contested by others involved in the story.

The Alchemist by Paulo CoelhoA novel by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho that was first published in 1988. Originally written in Portuguese, it became a widely translated international bestseller.An allegorical novel, it follows a young Andalusian shepherd in his journey to the pyramids of Egypt after having a recurring dream of finding a treasure there.

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte BronteFollows the experiences of its eponymous heroine, a governess, including her growth to adulthood and her love for Mr Rochester, the brooding master of Thornfield Hall, and the mystery of the woman in the attic, whose story was told in Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea.

The Hobbit by JRR TolkeinPopular with children and adults. The Hobbit is set within Tolkien’s fictional universe and follows the quest of home-loving Bilbo Baggins, the titular hobbit, to win a share of the treasure guarded by Smaug the dragon.Bilbo’s journey takes him from light-hearted, rural surroundings into more sinister territory and brings him into contact with a variety of characters including the sinister Gollum and the wizard Gandalf.

The Hobbit by JRR TolkienThe Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

The Great Gatsby by F Scott FitzgeraldThe novel follows a cast of characters living in the fictional towns of West Egg and East Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922.The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his quixotic passion and obsession with the beautiful former debutante Daisy Buchanan.

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