desertisland DIK. Desert Isle Keeper. Most of us have dozens of them, those tried-and-true favorites you re-read time and again. Unfortunately, most desert isles don’t have room for all of my DIKs. Nor does carry-on luggage.

As some of you may know, I’m leaving to spend four months in London. I’m super excited. Like, really excited. But part of packing has been determining which books to bring with me. I have shelves and drawers and boxes full of books, all of which I’ve read, enjoyed, and re-read – many of them B+ or DIK reads. But I can’t bring my entire book collection with me, or even the number of books it would take to keep me occupied for that amount of time. So, I have to limit myself to about half a dozen romance novels.

I’m bringing along some more “serious” literature too, in hopes that I’ll actually get around to reading The Bell Jar or The Great Gatsby or Dubliners. I consider Gone with the Wind to be somewhere in between the two categories, so that one’s coming with me. Two lauded but unread books are coming too: Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran and Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase. An Elizabeth Hoyt will probably come with me, though I’m not sure yet whether it will be The Serpent Prince or To Beguile a Beast. Maybe a J. D. Robb in case I need an Eve-and-Roarke fix, as I frequently do, though there are a whole hell of a lot of In Deaths choose from. I’m bringing Liz Berry’s The China Garden to get me in the mood for the span of English history, and I’m still deciding which London-set book to have(suggestions?). I’ll be living a short walk from Hyde Park, so I’m tempted to bring The Viscount Who Loved Me, if just for the scene where Newton drags Anthony into the Serpentine.

It’s hard to narrow it down. How do you choose a half-dozen books from a collection of hundreds? Another aspect I’ve been struggling with is coming up with a diverse list. As you can see, I’m pretty 19th-Century-England heavy in my book selection. Should I add more contemporaries to my list? Should I mix it up and bring something I usually don’t read, like a paranormal?

Of course, while England is an Isle, it certainly couldn’t be considered “Desert.” It’s not as if I’ll be completely separated from the literary world. There are always libraries and bookstores, of which London has plenty. But the question of “Which books to bring?” seems almost existential to me. Which are my absolute favorites? Which are my true DIKs? What do my choices say about me as a person?

And so, I turn the question to you: If you had to limit yourself to 6 of your favorite books, which ones would you bring with you?

– Jane Granville