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READING | Treasured Books

The Five Books You Would Take To A Desert Island And Why

May 14, 2000|SUSAN ALBERT LOEWENBERG | Susan Albert Loewenberg, producing director of the nonprofit L.A. Theatre Works, which records plays for broadcast over KCRW and other public radio stations nationwide

1. "Wartime Lies," by Louis Begley

It's an autobiographical novel by a prominent New York Jewish lawyer who rediscovered the trauma of his childhood in wartime Poland. His mother had passed away, his father was called to the Russian front, and his aunt was charged with his care. She stayed one step ahead of the Nazis and kept this child alive under the most trying circumstances. It's a story of resourcefulness, a metaphor of survivorship.

2. "Love in the Time of Cholera," by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

It's about the enduring nature of love and the way in which love evolves for someone over time--about the ability to keep love alive in the face of years of frustration and deprivation. I suppose there would be comfort in the idea of a lifelong connection between two people in the face of isolation.

3. "Personal History," by Katharine Graham

It's a big juicy book, just the kind of thing to pass the time on a desert island. Katharine Graham was a real survivor. She was in her mid-thirties when her husband committed suicide and she had to take over the reins of the Washington Post. She made some courageous decisions, including one to run stories on the Pentagon Papers.

4. "The Master and Margarita," by Mikhail Bulgakov

He was a writer in Russia. When Stalin came to power, he was one of the people who was purged and sent to a labor camp. When he returned, he was allowed to live out his days sweeping floors in the Moscow Art Theater. His work was rediscovered in the basement of the theater.It is a fabulous tale, a huge allegory about 1920s Russia, communism, and the loss and rediscovery of faith.

5. "More Classic Italian Cooking," by Marcella Hazan

Her recipes are so deceptively simple and homey and yet so unbelievably yummy. I guess if I'm on a desert island I want to fantasize about food. I suppose it's masochistic. I would torture myself reading that book.

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