No escape? No exit? Time for some desert island reading!

With just the right books, you’ll never want to leave

You’re stranded on a desert island, a castaway from every modern convenience. No smart phone, no tablet, no laptop. It’s unimaginable deprivation, and there’s no end in sight. 

Except, you do have a hammock to string between palm trees, a super-sized tube of sunscreen and a portable bookshelf with room for a handful of volumes. But which volumes? 

The choice is yours. Which novels, histories and memoirs would you want at your fingertips? Which tomes can withstand multiple readings? Which will get you through the long, unstructured days ahead? 

The University of Denver Magazine posed this fiendish challenge to some of the most enthusiastic readers we know. Not only are their selections delightful and surprising, they’re well worth stealing.

Eric Boschmann, associate professor, Department of Geography and the Environment

“Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot,” by Mark Vanhoenacker

This book is a view of the world from the imaginative perspective of a Boeing 747 pilot who has a mesmerizing aesthetic and a poetic style. It is hard to put down.

“Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas,” by Rebecca Solnit and Joshua Jelly-Schapiro

If deserted on an island, there would be no better way to pass the time than getting lost in an atlas, perhaps the Goode’s World Atlas. But Solnit’s atlas of New York City is so richly and creatively illustrated — with accompanying essays of the city’s idiosyncrasies — one could take a lifetime uncovering the Big Apple’s infinite layers.

“Their Eyes Were Watching God,” by Zora Neale Hurston

I first read this as a teenager 30 years ago. It’s hard to explain why, but this beautiful novel was formative and remains unforgettable. If I could read only one novel again, this would be it.

“Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life,” by Richard Rohr

Many books explore the ancient wisdom of finding meaning and purpose in the second half of life. Rohr’s is a short and insightful perspective that is worth an occasional revisit. Another on my “to read” list is David Brooks’ “The Second Mountain.”

“Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver,” by Mary Oliver

Oliver writes accessible poetry. She uncovers life lessons in nature. Many introspective exemplars I admire today find inspiration from her work. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” These poems linger.

Eric Boschmann has written extensively about contemporary Denver and Asunción, Paraguay. In addition to teaching introductory-level courses, he teaches several urban-related classes, including a first-year seminar on Metropolitan Denver, an interterm travel course on the rise of the modern metropolis in New York City, Urban Sustainability and Urban Landscapes.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

More stories


An archive that preserves and triggers memories I read with great interest your article about the Carson Brierly...

Seasoned pros take on critical posts

The University of Denver has named a new dean for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CAHSS) and a new...

Myhren generosity benefits the student experience

For more than 30 years, students and programs across the University of Denver have felt the impact of Trygve (Tryg) and Vicki...

More stories

Nature’s Bounty

A century ago, the University of Denver campus was home to what was then considered one of the largest pharmaceutical and botanical...


An archive that preserves and triggers memories I read with great interest your article about the Carson Brierly...

Beyond City Limits

Her first two weeks at college, Taylor Szilagyi hardly slept. Some of that, unquestionably, could be traced to the typical first-year jitters:...

Gardening recommendations from DU’s horticulturalists

Editor's note: The University of Denver is known for its beautiful campus, punctuated by colorful gardens that dazzle the eye, even in...

Anyone, anywhere can be a gardener

Somewhere in Chicago’s South Side, University of Denver alumna Bweza Itaagi (BA ’14) is planting food in parking lots and on abandoned...