Something about them has always drawn people to them, in real life and in fiction, for a variety of reasons. They are disconnected from the world and hideaways from life. Some are marooned on them. Pirates love them. They harbor lost worlds and indecipherable mysteries. Film and television has a constant stream of island adventure, but many of those tales, and our fascination with them, originated in books. Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Land That Time Forgot and others set the precedent.
Perhaps it takes going to the island to learn more about ourselves. Or, at times, just to have fun.
Sometimes modern readers roll their eyes at the suggestion of reading the “classics.” Can they really be better than the 1800th vampire novel? How can they compare to yet another teen-dystopian-sorta-adventure/romance novel?
Yes, there are some classics that leave one wondering who exactly voted them to those “must read before college lists.” Then there are those that have earned their title with generations of readers.
Long before Michael Crichton did so in Congo, H. Rider Haggard brought readers into the heart of Africa looking for the long lost King Solomon’s Mines in 1885. The original Indiana Jones, Allan Quartermain feared little.
Stranded on lost islands have been a of Hollywood for decades, but it was Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe that started it in 1719!
And if Robert Louis Stevenson hadn’t written Treasure Island in 1883, would countless pirate films held our fascination for so long?
These books have endured — even after their many imitators have faded from memory — because the writers created atmospheric, detailed worlds that anyone could disappear into. Seriously, want to go on a treasure hunt across Africa and make it back? Live on an island by yourself for years and not worry about being saved? Or go on a high seas adventure and make it home for dinner?
Many books come and go. A few, though, we never forget.