Desert Island Books – Ed from A Need to Read


This book
has helped me through darker times more than most others. A book based on ACT therapy, enabling you to accept whatever comes your way, be that intrusive thoughts, depression or anxiety. The practical applications of this book are easy to comprehend, yet as with any self-help not so easy to implement. An opportunity to read this book over and over again without the guilt of missing out on other reads would be welcomed on a desert island.



Benjamin Franklin one said “Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; Involve me and I’ll learn”. To be emotionally involved in a book in the way I was with ‘The Alchemist’ will really help you learn, potentially more than you could reading a non-fiction book. A fable about following your heart; exploration and love are wrapped up brilliantly in a story following Santiago on his journey to find his ‘life’s treasure’. A book I’ve turned to multiple times for guidance.

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

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The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday

There is no better book for your mindset than ‘Can’t Hurt Me’. David Goggins grew up being ‘the only’, the only black man in his school. In a time where racism was even more apparent in America than nowadays. His growth from an overweight 20-something with a victim mentality to a Navy Seal, Ultra-Marathon runner and World Record holder is inspirational. He says when you feel you’re ready to give up, you’re only 40% done and it’s time to dig deep – a notion which really stuck with me!

Cant Hurt me by David Goggins

I was unaware of Taoism before reading this book. The evidence of Taoism found in Hundred Acre Wood is almost too convenient not to be intentional from A. A. Milne. The Taoist philosophy dates back thousands of years and to reach ‘the tao’ is to be at one with the universe, with no interference – a beautiful ideal. Combining that with stories from Winnie The Pooh is a pleasure to read. One I could read over and over again.

Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff 

And so, without further ado, from the book he turns to when in need of a spiritual reboot, to a novel by one of his favourite authors, here are the eight books Ed would take with him to the sandy shores of a desert island…

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Since then, I’ve been nothing short of amazed by the amount of books Ed gets through, and have loved seeing him build a loyal and engaged following by sharing his passion for reading. I’ve bought a bunch of books off the back of his recommendations (Shoe Dog, Essentialism and Man’s Search for Meaning to name but a few) and I love the way he not only makes reading accessible for all, but also how he injects both wit and banter into his reviews. An absolute must follow for anyone who wants to up their reading game, you can find Ed on Instagram here, and his brilliant podcast, A Need to Read on both Spotify and Apple podcasts.

The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo

I’m taking the desert island books theme quite literally here. Stoicism is, in my opinion, a blueprint for a good life. Wherever that life may be, whatever the circumstance, even on a desert island. Essentially a collection of Ryan Holiday’s favourite stoic quotes, with a brief explanation from him on how to live by your virtues and lean in to whatever comes your way. Stoic philosophy has really changed my life, it would be foolish not to bring a reminder with me.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

I first started following Ed from brilliantly bookish podcast, A Need to Read, after he posed a video on Instagram (you can view it here) in which he spoke about how celebrity reading lists (so the likes of Obama, David Bowie et al) are great ways for people to source book recommendations. Ed mentioned how he seen celebrity reading recommendations in Gertrude & Alice while he was living in Bondi, and having been the brainchild (ahem) behind the aforementioned visual merchandising mechanic, I swiftly commented saying so.

This is a book I turn to whenever I need a bit of ‘spiritual-reboot’. I found ‘The Power Of Now’ very repetitive, but I cannot Ignore Eckhart Tolle for this list. To understand that all we will ever need is within us already is a real blessing. The Zen stories alone in this book are enough to arm you with tools to get through any hardship, although they will take time to master. Also, nothing will help you feel more connected to the universe than being stranded on a desert island, right? Wrong; this book is needed for that feeling.

The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris

I was a bit of a non-fiction junkie and I avoided novels for a while. I was recommended this book by Irish comedian Mark Hayes. Skippy is a mid-teenage boy in a boarding school in Ireland, he just so happens to die, unexpectedly. The story follows everything preceding his death, full of nostalgia for teenage boyhood and chapters that send you from heartbreak to uncontrollable laughter in the turn of a page.
Matt Haig is one of my favourite authors, and this novel was a real joy to read. Regret is something that can consume you, and it’s sneaky. You can be content and all of a sudden remember that slice of questionable behaviour from 7 years ago. The book follows Nora Seed as she goes through her ‘book of regrets’ and lives the lives she would have should she have made different decisions. It turns out, regret doesn’t serve you, and you never know which good parts of your life wouldn’t be there if you’d have behaved differently.