50 Words or Less(-ish) Fridays: Iris Blasi

*Note: The contest described below has closed; click here for results.

This is just what the name implies: Each week, I ask someone interesting a question and request that she/he respond in 50 words or less.

Or somewhere in the ballpark of 50 words. That’s why there’s an “-ish.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this site isn’t exactly a bastion of rigidity.

Iris BlasiToday I’m excited to be joined by Iris Blasi, who is marketing director and senior editor at Pegasus Books. She tweets often (@IrisBlasi), Tumbls occasionally (irisblasi.tumblr.com), and really likes books and the people who read them.

Given that last detail, I asked Iris just about the most difficult question I could. Of course, she navigated it with aplomb and in turn wanted to extend the challenge to everyone reading this.

Well, technically speaking, I think she just wanted to inflict an amount of pain on all of you equal to what I put her through. But now we’re splitting hairs.

So here’s the deal: Read the question, read Iris’ answer to it, and then tell us your three in the comments below. If you do so by this Sunday, Dec. 15, at 5:00 p.m. Eastern time, you’ll be entered to win one of two prizes: a copy of The Not Awesome 2014 Daily Calendar (from yours truly) or your choice of any three books from the Pegasus catalog (courtesy of Iris). I’ll draw one commenter at random to win each of these prizes, so there will be two winners total.

There is one restriction: Winners have to have a United States mailing address, as sending books around the world costs a small fortune.

Speaking of, here’s that million-dollar question I asked Iris:

Say you’re in a Tom Hanks Castaway situation and are allowed to have three books. What are they?

It’s cheating, I suppose, to say I’d bring an e-reader so that I could have access to infinite books. (But if that’s an option, I totally pick that.) Otherwise, my three books would be:

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott1) Little Women, because it was my favorite book growing up when all I wanted in the world was to be Jo March, hidden up in the attic eating apples and scribbling away. To this day, I have the red-rimmed Dell Yearling Classic paperback I read as a child sitting on my bookshelf, now nearly falling apart from repeated re-readings.

2) Willa Cather’s The Professor’s House because it was the first book that I truly loved that wasn’t about a young girl, and it cracked open for me the whole wide world of what books can be.

3) Ulysses because, let’s be honest, I’m probably not going to get to it unless I’m stuck on a desert island with nothing else to do.

My lone tango with James Joyce was the much-tamer A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. When I finished it, I felt like I had climbed Kilimanjaro.

So what are your three books? You don’t have to describe the reasons why you picked them as eloquently as Iris did (although we’d love to hear them) to enter the contest, but you do need to pick three and submit them via a comment below by 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

In the meantime, huge thanks to Iris for stopping by this week, for offering a great prize, and for not cursing my name. At least not to my face.

Interested in being featured in “50 Words or Less(-ish) Fridays” or know someone who should be? Let me know. Also, feel free to check out the archive of past guests. But no pressure.


  1. Patrick Nathan (@patricknathan)

    1) In Search of Lost Time, as proof that I can survive forever within my own imagination
    2) Wittgenstein’s Mistress, as comfort despite crippling loneliness
    3) Malloy, Malone Dies, & The Unnamable, in case I need to talk myself out of giving up

  2. Ann Merry Gamble (@amgamble)

    Me too on the haven’t-read-yet–does that speak to some optimism about eventually being rescued? I won’t cheat with a e-reader (where would you charge it) but with 1. Collected Works of William Shakespeare
    2. Bleak House (or Great Expectations–um, collected works, again?)
    3. The Goldfinch

  3. Elizabeth Willse

    Going on the theory that being on a desert island is the only way I’ll manage to read these books that I’ve been meaning to read for ages.
    1. The most comprehensive collection of Sherlock Holmes I can find. (I’ve got it on my e-reader, but that sort of ducks the question.)
    2. The Odyssey. Because I’ve been meaning to read it, and being stuck on a desert island might give it extra zest. (Or make me super bitter. Hard to say.)
    3. An anthology of American poetry that includes anything from Walt Whitman to Billy Collins, and ideally lots of poets I’ve never read.

  4. tmgre

    1. House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski.
    2. In Search of Lost Time by Proust
    3. Madame by Antoni Libera

    All to remind me, as much as possible, of the world I’d left behind.

  5. Brent H

    1. Jimmy Buffett’s A Pirate Looks at Fifty (beach reading for the beach)
    2. Boat Building for Dummies (assuming this exists) (2b is Sailing for Dummies)
    3. War and Peace (very long, and I’ve never read it)

  6. Tanya Roberts

    1. Jane Eyre…my all time favorite book
    2. The Night Before Christmas…who doesn’t feel better reading about Santa?
    3. The DIY Boat Building Manual by Paul Downey…I love to learn new things but let’s face it the blistering sun and salty sea air is murder on the skin and hair. I would just have to go all Gilligan’s Island and rescue myself.

  7. D. X. Logan

    * The Boy Scout Handbook – Full of useful things like knots, emergency signals and such.
    * The complete works of Shakespeare – Long enough to keep reading a while and nuanced enough not to get dull.
    * A blank journal with pen – To record my own thoughts and experiences in!

  8. Caroline

    1.The whole Harry potter collection: as a throwback to my youth, the magic never ends
    2. The ender game universe collection: because I enjoy scifi
    3. Lord of flies: to make me happy that I’m on this island alone.

  9. Pingback: Results of “Three Books on a Desert Isle” Contest | Ted Fox is Awesome
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