JP: Speaking of books that you love, if you had to name four or five books that you would take to a desert island, what books would you name?

KP: This is such a hard question, because you want to get the most out of the books you have there. So I would take the Bible and the Oxford English Dictionary. Those will keep me occupied for some time. The Master of Hestviken by Sigrid Undset, which is a huge volume and I love it. I can't read it in the original Norwegian, but she was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize, as a matter of fact. And she has written Kristin Lavransdatter, but I think I prefer The Master of Hestviken. And then I have to take the collective poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, my favorite poet. And Gilead by my favorite modern writer, Marilynn Robinson.

What would you take?

JP: I don't think my choices would be quite as cerebral as that. Actually, I would have a hard time with five, because of you. I can't ever really be without a book. I guess if I had to pick some all-time favorites, it would have to be anything by Wallace Stegner—Angle of Repose.

KP: Oh yes, of course, I hate to leave Wallace Stegner off of any list.

JP: Exactly. Crossing to Safety is fantastic. You know, I also really enjoyed Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth. I would take that because it is about 8,000 pages, so that would burn up some good time. The Great Gatsby was always one of my favorites. I could always reread that.

KP:Yes, but do you really want to live on a desert island with the Great Gatsby though?

JP: You know, it is escapism at its best. And the dictionary is a good idea, so I will throw that one on the pile. I am also a very logical person, so I would probably want to dig up one of those Men's Health compilations of how to survive on a desert island, as well. I don't think I could be on a desert island without books.

JPSo, you are an established writer, and I am a new writer.

KP: Yes, congratulations by the way on the publication of your book.

JP: Well, thank you very much. But now that we are both published writers, who do you think would win in a game of Scrabble?

KP: Well, your wife always beats me. Every time she says it is luck and I say, "It is not luck if you beat me every time."

JP: So by transitive property of marriage, I would be able to beat you as well?

KP: You probably would. We will give it a try next summer.

JP: And one last question from me, and this has been great. I have even learned new things that I didn't yet know about you. But, Mom, you know these are tough times. Do you think we could revisit the subject of allowance?

KP: Well, I don't know John, have you been doing your chores lately?


JP: Ambassador Paterson. Mom, thank you very much. It was a pleasure talking with you, as always.

KP: Thank you. It is always a pleasure talking with you.

Check out Katherine Paterson's Children's Reading List

More classic reads for 10- to 12-year-olds

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