001. Octopussy, Ian Fleming
I read this one over and over. The short story which gives us the title is a deep and sad, yet beautiful, tale. I have often felt that Ian Fleming was talking to himself. The major plot points, of course, did not happen to him (as far as we know he never killed anyone, nor did his wife commit suicide) but the longing for the happiness of his lost youth, the realization that it was lost and that he had made mistakes, always seemed personal to me. James Bond, as always standing in for Ian, is passing judgement here on Ian’s failures. All the stories in this collection of shorts are good, but I’ll pick this one for repeated pleasure.
002. James Bond Encyclopedia, John Cork
This nonfiction work is hefty, at 339 pages without the index. It concentrates on the movies–which are really not my thing, but I love any kind of encyclopedia as they are always good for re-reading. Also I’ve had the good fortune to meet John Cork, who is witty and wise and delightful company. I’d enjoy hearing his voice in my head as I read this work.
003. Behind Every Great Man, Marlene Wagman-Geller
With an infuriatingly jokey writing style, Wagman-Geller gives us the stories behind forty women who made their men who they were, and Ian and Anne were one of the lucky or unlucky couples the author examines. She’s a mercilessly opinionated writer and a lot of fun to read.
Read More: The Letters of Ann Fleming
004. Diamonds Are Forever
and 005. Spy Who Loved Me, Ian Fleming
I need them because they take place in and around my hometown. I need first editions but I don’t want them inscribed by Ian. Nope. Give me old, well-loved library copies, so I can feel I am sharing the experience with everybody who signed his or her name on the little card in the back of the book.
Read More: The Hidden Gems in Diamonds Are Forever
Read More: The Spy Who Loved Me: A Very Personal Story
006. The Irregulars, Jennet Conant
Roald Dahl and Ian Fleming were spies, and had similar taste in women. Beyond that, I won’t tell you, just read it!
Read More: 007’s Oriental Eyefuls by Roald Dahl
007. Ian Fleming, Andrew Lycett
Lycett’s is the most complete but I really like Matthew Parker’s writing style in Goldeneye. Then again, Fergus Fleming had to sort through somebody else’s letters and annotate just enough to make sense, but not be intrusive in The Man with the Golden Typewriter, and that was quite a feat. If I have to take just one biography to the island, I’ll take Andrew Lycett’s but ache for Parker and Fleming.
008. Women with Alcoholic Husbands, Ramona Asher
This is a wonderfully researched book by a woman who holds a PhD. The author dares to posit that codependency may be false, that women may not intentionally involve themselves with alcoholics, and that such relationships vary immensely in origin and how they play out. If you want to understand Ian, you should probably understand his wife. Poor Anne.
It has to be not just a good song but one I don’t mind hearing a lot. So how about one I hear too much anyway? “Nobody Does It Better,” by Carly Simon. It just makes me happy. If I am limited to songs from the books, anything by the Ink Spots.
Guano. Definitely. If I am going to be on the island for a while, I had better get to gardening, so Dr. No’s incomparable fertilizer is the way to go.
You gotta have a Bond tipple, and it wasn’t always a martini. No, I’ll take a nice warm sake, only unlike Bond in You Only Live Twice, I’ll enjoy mine slowly.