Abby Bardi’s Fallout 5:
1.The Alexandria Quartet, by Lawrence Durrell: This complex, almost hallucinogenic work is technically four novels, interwoven with a mixture of brilliance and sloppiness (Durrell wrote them hurriedly, for money), but it’s possible to buy them in one volume, so let’s go with that. The AQ is so inexhaustibly complex that it would be the first thing I would grab on my way out the door to the apocalypse; it immerses the reader so completely into the invented world of Durrell’s Alexandria that it would get my mind off of marauding hordes, and in a food shortage, I could feast on his insanely delicious prose. (Amazon UK/ Amazon US)
2. The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats, Vol. I: The Poems, ed. Richard J. Finneran: Along the same lines, Yeats’ poems can be read an infinite number of times while continuing to yield new meanings. In this edition, Finneran places the poems in the context of the volumes Yeats originally published them in, making it easy to choose early Yeats if you want to escape into the Lake Isle of Innisfree (1893), later Yeats if you want the wisdom of the sages in “Lapis Lazuli” (1938) whose “ancient, glittering eyes are gay” in the face of oncoming catastrophe, and mid-period Yeats “The Second Coming” (1921) if you want to know a thing or two about the “rough beast” of the apocalypse. (Amazon UK/ Amazon US)
3. Orlando by Virginia Woolf: It would be tempting to bring the amazing Mrs Dalloway or To the Lighthouse, but during an apocalypse, it would be helpful to have something to read that is wild, hilarious, and ultimately life-affirming in ways that only someone who killed herself at the beginning of a world war can be. (Amazon UK/ Amazon US)
4. Five Complete Miss Marple Novels by Agatha Christie: Once again, I have cleverly cheated, by finding an edition containing multiple books. It’s hard to decide between Agatha’s many collections, but this one has novels I remember liking but can’t recall the plots of offhand. I started reading Agatha at age eight and have read and reread everything she ever wrote so many times that they all blend together in my mind, so I can read one of her mysteries a million times and still be surprised at who the killer is. Agatha has always been my go-to for when I want to feel comforted by a nice soothing murder instead of contemplating the horrors of reality, so I’m sure she’ll come in handy post-apocalypse. (Amazon UK/ Amazon US)
5. Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens: This novel, Dickens’ last, combines all of the virtues of the ones listed above. For one thing, it’s very long. For another, it is a comforting and complicated read, reflecting a surrealistically comic and disturbing nineteenth-century world that has become, like our world, a wasteland of greed and stupidity (I’m assuming this is what caused the apocalypse), but ultimately positing that even in the face of tragedy, humans are capable of love and decency. Let’s hope he was right. (Amazon UK/ Amazon US)
You Suddenly have to run from the bunker, you can only save one book, which do you rescue?
The 5th Book (Our Mutual Friend) is also the one I would save