The Ultimate DIK Challenge

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

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32 Responses to The Ultimate DIK Challenge

  1. Heather D says:

    I would be in much the same predicament as you are in now. I have absolutely no idea which books I would take with me. I guess maybe one from each sub genre.

    A Black Dagger Brotherhood book–not sure which one.
    A Julie Garwood–Maybe Castles
    A Connie Mason–one of her westerns
    Outlander by Gabaldon
    Wicked Burn by Beth Kery–I get my erotic and contemporary fix all in one
    Can’t forget Nora Roberts–Midnight Bayou

    Now that I have a Kindle, I would just take that on any trip I endeavor. I know it would not last very long on a Desert Island, but I would have several more options to choose from for a short time.

    Since you will be in England and have access to book stores and libraries, maybe check in to which books would be available to you there, and only take ones that you know you won’t be able to find. Maybe you could get a friend or family member to send you a few books… I am very uneducated when it comes to the length of time or cost of shipping overseas, so this may not be a really good idea.

    Have a wonderful trip!

  2. Azure says:

    Oh dear. Only six? Don’t know if I could do it. I’d have to figure out a way to get a solar-powered ebook reader onto the island. (Or at least a solar-powered charger. Do they make those already?)

    If I were limited to only six, I’d have to take:

    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
    Once Upon a Dream by Katherine Kingsley
    Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
    How to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn

    *sigh* Thinking about only having a few books on a trip with me makes me even more glad I have an ebook reader. It took me ten minutes to think of the six books I absolutely could not leave behind.

  3. Brandy says:

    My 6 would be:
    1. The Viscount Who Loved Me Julia Quinn
    2. Flowers from the Storm Laura Kinsale
    3. Wild At Heart Patricia Gaffney
    4. The Serpent Prince Elizabeth Hoyt
    5. Bet Me Jennifer Cruisie
    6. Sleeping Beauty Judith Ivory

    I would have put Outlander on here…… but I would have to bring all of the series! Not enough room! LOL!!! Have A Wondeful and Safe Trip!

  4. Dear Jane, the best thing about being in a foreign country will be to immerse yourself in imaginations and literature from there. I’d skip the Americana ‘must reads’ like Great Gatsby etc, and love the English literary world.
    Jane Austen (can never be re-read enough)
    Anthony Trollope (My Favorite Author!) Phineas Finn is favorite or Can You Forgive Her?
    George Gissing: New Grub Street or The Odd Women ESSENTIAL UNKNOWN Victorian writer (FAVORITE AUTHOR)
    Graham Greene: The End of the Affair or Any of his (FAVORITE AUTHOR)
    Bronte sisters: Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre (GREAT MOOD BOOKS)
    Blackwood: Lorna Doone (FAVORITE ROMANCE NOVEL)

    Oh there are so many I have loved so much and would re-read in a heartbeat were I in London.

    Enjoy your journey,

  5. Victoria S says:

    I am sitting here re-reading parts of “Private Arrangements”, and so grateful this is a discussion question, not a real choice I had to make.
    Six only huh? Well here goes:
    Lord of Scoundrels–Loretta Chase
    More Than A Mistress–Mary Balogh
    Standing At The Scratch Line–Guy Johnson
    One “number” book by Janet Evanovich
    One “In Death” book by Nora Roberts
    Broken Wing–Judith James
    I was recently on vacation and packed only books (4) I truly loved and did re-reads. While on vaca though, I stopped at a bookstore and picked up a couple that were new, so I came back with more than I started. My definition of a truly great vaca!!

  6. xina says:


    The Time Traveler’s Wife…Neffenegger
    The Bronze Horseman…Simons
    Katherine ….Seton

    I could pick 6 or 10 more!

  7. Why is this so much fun to imagine? It would be horrible if it happened in real life, yet I can never resist playing the game.

    Force of Nature by Suzanne Brockmann
    Faking It by Jennifer Crusie
    A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole
    The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
    Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
    and, to make me laugh, Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl

  8. MarissaB says:

    Jane, this is impossible. I travel once a year out of the country to visit my Mom for 2 weeks. I try and travel with just one suitcase because I hate the security checks required by any airline flying back to the US – 2 bags plus a hand-carry and a purse is just so cumbersome. The most books I have brought are 4 – all from my TBR pile, then I fill my MP3 with my comfort listens – they are great for the times jet lag keeps me awake at night while I pretend to be asleep. ;-)

    6 Comfort Listens:
    Outlander – Diana Gabaldon
    The Curse of Chalion – Lois McMaster Bujold
    The Proposition – Judith Ivory
    Death Angel – Linda Howard
    These Old Shades – Georgette Heyer
    It Had to Be You – Susan Elizabeth Phillips

    Have a good trip.

  9. Goosie says:

    Oh man! This is hard!!!! Actually picking the first three wasn’t hard at all. But the rest….man. Okay. Here it is:

    To The Ends of the Earth by Elizabeth Lowell
    Simply Love by Mary Balogh
    Sweet Revenge by Nora Roberts
    Blue-Eyed Devil by Lisa Kleypas
    The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons
    To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt

    Wow. That took a lot longer than it probably needed to. I know I’m missing a few out there…Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, something (probably Innocent in Death) by JD Robb, something by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. But yeah…that would be the list.

  10. vivi says:

    I love this challenge!
    1) Any Edward Gorey compilation
    2) Any Calvin and Hobbes compilation
    3) Match Me If You Can- Susan Elizabeth Phillips
    4) Branded by Fire- Nalini Singh
    5) Innocent in Death- J.D. Robb
    6) Never Love a Lawman- Jo Goodman (I just finished it and I cannot stop thinking about how perfect the book is!)

  11. Katie Mack says:

    This is really hard, but I’ve narrowed it down. (Although 5 minutes after I post this I’ll probably want to change the list.)

    1. Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie
    2. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
    3. Either Tangled Up in You or The Trouble with Valentine’s Day by Rachel Gibson
    4. One “In Death” book (no idea which one)
    5. Tall Tales and Wedding Veils by Jane Graves
    6. Either To Seduce a Sinner or The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt

    After choosing just 6 books, I’d probably opt for taking less clothes and bringing more books.

  12. Kati says:

    1- Slightly Dangerous – Mary Balogh
    2- The Windflower – Tom and Sharon Curtis
    3- Warprize – Elizabeth Vaughan
    4- Slave to Sensation – Nalini Singh
    5- Smooth Talking Stranger – Lisa Kleypas
    6- Chesapeake Blue – Nora Roberts

  13. Caryl says:

    Bridget Jones (modern London), Fielding
    Daisy Miller (American gal in London), James
    The Old Curiosity Shop (Victorian London), Dickens
    The Hellion (romancing newspaper gal in London, reminds me of Jo March’s newspapering trials in Little Women), Chase
    Federica (love the balloon launch scene in Hyde Park and the Baluchistan hound), Heyer
    Dark Fire (Tudor London–2nd in the Shardlake series, now under development by BBC with Kenneth Branaugh as Shardlake!), Sansom

  14. Jean Wan says:

    I think I would leave out anything that would qualify as a “quick fix”, because then I’d just hop down to the library and get it. But books that I take with me are the ones I’ll probably re-read at least three times when I’m there, or books I want at all hours, in my room, and that are open to frequent re-reads. So I would take a few favourites, and one or two “I’ve never read before” ones in the hope I’ll get to them. For the moment that would be (I think):

    The Blue Sword, Robin McKinley
    Tom Jones, Henry Fielding
    The Viscount Who Loved Me, Julia Quinn
    Angels Fall, Nora Roberts
    Frederica, Georgette Heyer
    The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas

    Have a tonne of fun! Although I’m sure you will :)


  15. Clavie says:

    Now that’s a challenge!
    Lemme see, if it were up to me:

    1. Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas -For Historical Romance
    2. Saving Francesca or Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta for my YA fix
    3. Lover Eternal for my paranormal fix
    4. I Do (But I don’t) by Cara Lockwood for a contemporary fix (if not that either Anyone but You by Jennifer Crusie or Simple Irresistible by Rachel Gibson)
    5. The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt just because
    6. And then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke ’cause I love it.

    And then I would cheat someway like loading the whole Chicago Stars Series by SEP in Audiobook form into my ipod. And I would probably sneak some Meg Cabot too, for laughs.

  16. Renee says:

    Thank God for a sony reader because now I can take 200 books at a time. However, if I have to choose:

    1) The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
    2) The Spiral Path by Mary Jo Putney
    3) The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
    4) Thunder and Roses by Mary Jo Putney
    5) Paradise by Judith McNaught
    6) The Lord of the Rings trilogy ( I know, I cheated 3 books in one, LOL)

  17. JBHunt says:

    Trying not to think about all the OTHER books I would be sad to leave behind!

    1. Eveless Eden (Marianne Wiggins)
    2. Welcome to Temptation (Jenny Crusie)
    3. Mr. Impossible (Loretta Chase)
    4. Over the Edge (Suzanne Brockmann)
    5. Voyager (Diana Gabaldon)
    6. Kushiel’s Dart (Jacqueline Carey)

    Now if I could just manage to get stranded on that island…

  18. Sandy C. says:

    Only six books? Hmm… I have so many favorite series romances, but I want more bang for my buck (or book!), so I’m going to stick with single titles.

    1. “Heart of the Night” – Barbara Delinsky
    2. “Dream Man” – Linda Howard
    3. “Force of Nature” – Suzanne Brockmann
    4. “Phantom Waltz” – Catherine Anderson
    5. “Truly Madly Yours” – Rachel Gibson
    6. “No More Lies” – Susan Squires

    Limiting this list to only six books was excruciating. I could easily have made it 25, and still not included all of my favorites!

  19. R. O'Connell says:

    Anything by the following 5 authors:

    1. Judith Ivory – Maybe Sleeping Beauty or Beast

    2. Laura Kinsale – Flowers from a Storm or The Shadow and the Star

    3. Mary Balogh – More than a Mistress or One of her Regencies The Temporary Wife

    4. Jo Goodman – A season to be sinful, the Price of Desire

    5. Curtis -Windflower

    6. A Town Like Alice by Neville Shute (I loved that book!)

  20. LeeB. says:

    Well, I’m not going to even attempt to choose six books. But Jane, I will tell you to look for 2 for 1 sales at Waterstones and Borders and on your way home, check out a similar offer at WHSmith at Heathrow. In June, I came home with about 8 books (paperbacks) in my carry-on and a plastic bag with about 8 more that fortunately I didn’t have to pack away. Anything you buy at Heathrow after security is fine with leaving in carrier bags — and squishing in the overhead. ;)

  21. Elaine S says:

    Jane Eyre
    Pride and Prejudice
    Venetia – Georgette Heyer
    A Civil Contract – Georgette Heyer
    Simply Love – Mary Balogh

    Unfortunately the UK does not abound in UBSs that cater to my requirements so I resort to online shopping. Waterstones and WH Smith are fine for chic lit but you won’t find, say, Mary Balogh or Jo Beverley, etc. or indeed many US romance writers. You will find M&B but the choices are not as good as the US.

    Enjoy London – but please do try to get away from it now and then. It’s so multi-cultural these days that it’s no longer the London I first got to know when I left California to marry my English husband 30 years ago. I hope you can get to Bath, York, Chester, Cirencester, Cheltenham and others of the fabulous cathedral cities and our charming market towns as well as the countryside! I live on the edge of the Cotswolds and it’s stunningly beautiful here. And, there is always Edinburgh and the highlands where, I am convinced, God himself spends his holidays.

  22. Bessie says:

    I wouldn’t take any books with me. You’ll be able to find many authors
    who aren’t published in the U.S. You could pick them up there and avoid the Amazon U.K. postage rates!–Take the opportunity to browse used book stores. That’s something I’ve wanted to do since I read 84 Charing Cross Road. If you have time, you could take a side trip to Hay-on-Wye.
    The town is known for its second-hand and antiquarian book shops.

    I’d take books if I were going someplace (like a lake cottage) where I would be sitting around. I’d probably take current library books, or things from my TBR pile. My DIK’s aren’t books that I haul around with me. I keep them near–and I’ll pick them up–but I seldom read them from beginning to end. I go back to favorite scenes.

  23. Naomi, Cologne says:

    After the Night – Linda Howard
    Innocent in Death – JD Robb
    Lord of Scandal – Loretta Chase
    It had to be You – Susan Elizabeth Phillips
    Regency Buck – Georgette Heyer
    Devil’s Bride – Stephanie Laurens

    I would also take as many spoken books on CDs as well…

  24. Alex says:

    I ended up taking way more than 6 books on holiday with me (about 10), though I ended up reading about 3. I also bought 13 books while I was on holiday, but it’s probably not wise to take as many as I did…

    1, It Had to be You — Susan Elizabeth Phillips
    2. Naked in Death — JD Robb
    3. Dreaming of You — Lisa Kleypas
    4. City of Glass — Cassandra Clare
    5. Wolves at the Gate — Drew Z. Greenberg

  25. June says:

    Today I’d take these favorite re-reads, who knows about tomorrow:

    Almost Heaven – Judith McNaught
    Slightly Dangerous – Balogh
    Broken Wing – James
    Ransom – Garwood
    Trust me – Krentz
    Amanda – Hooper

  26. Amy says:

    My list of 6 books that earn a DIK status include novels and some not so exciting yet necessary books, forgive me but I’m a doctor so gotta be practical too:

    1. Complete Works of Jane Austen
    2. Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Oxford edition)
    3. The Last Bachelor by Betina Krahn
    4. The Merck Manual of Medical Information
    5. The Ultimate Survival Guide (Harperessentials)
    6. The Complete Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales & Stories

  27. Estelle says:

    Ah, that’s why ebooks are so much fun! I have dozens and dozens of them on my laptop so I’m never torn about which books to bring when I travel, which isn’t all that often these days actually. I always bring my laptop anyway so I have no excess baggage on the way in (on the way out I usually have a box full of books purchased abroad that I ship separately).

    There are 4 books that I would bring with me anywhere if I knew the stay would extend beyong a few weeks though (for shorter trips, I can live without my “true DIKs”).

    *Checkmate by Dorothy Dunnett
    *As You Desire by Connie Brockway
    *Games of Command by Linnea Sinclair
    *Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

    I have dozens of DIKs at home and I re-read them depending on my moods. I loved everyone of them but these are the four I always come back to.

    I hope you enjoy your trip!

  28. Renee says:

    I know I have already submitted my list but I have to give a second to Amanda by Hooper. I would add Finding Laura by Hooper to my list as well. Have a great trip.

  29. library addict says:

    This why you need a eReader :P You can fit hundreds or thousands of books.

    But if I could only take 6, I’d go with
    1) one of the In Deaths by JD Robb (I’d have to blindly grab one as it’s too tough to choose only one)
    2) Deadly Game by Christine Feehan
    3) Show No Mercy by Cindy Gerard
    4) Trust Me by Jayne Ann Krentz
    5) Rising Tides by Nora Roberts
    6) Through the Looking Glass by Joyce McGill

    Today anyway.

  30. Pat Henshaw says:

    And this is why I LOVE my Kindle! I have the Kindle 1 with the removable chip, so I can save all my favorites. I now have 240 books on something the size of a skinny paperback that fits inside my purse. I’ve saved special parts of books which I can flip to whenever I want. I don’t have to limit myself while on vacation. I just have to remember to bring my charger and converter.

    Sigh. The Kindle is the best present my family’s ever given me.

  31. Jennifer P says:

    My six would be:

    1) Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
    2) Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
    3) Two For The Dough by Janet Evanovich
    4) Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas (I had to pick only one)
    5) Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
    6) A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James

  32. Jennifer P says:

    Jennifer P: My six would be:1) Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
    2) Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie
    3) Two For The Dough by Janet Evanovich
    4) Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas (I had to pick only one)
    5) Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
    6) A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James

    Actually I would change number 6 to Absolutely Positively by Jayne Anne Krentz

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