Book Serendipity Strikes Again

Only two months since my last Book Serendipity entry, and already another 17 occurrences! I post these occasional reading coincidences on Twitter and/or Instagram. I call it serendipitous when two or more books that I’m reading at the same time or in quick succession have something pretty bizarre in common. Because I have so many books on the go at once – usually between 10 and 20 – I guess I’m more prone to such incidents. What’s the weirdest one you’ve had lately? (The following are in rough chronological order.)


  • Characters with lupus in The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff and Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid [I also read about one who features in Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger] PLUS I then read Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor, who died of lupus


  • Daisy’s declaration of “I am not a muse. I am the somebody. End of fucking story” in Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid reminded me of Lee Miller’s attitude in The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer
  • Mentions of old ladies’ habit of keeping tissues balled up in their sleeves in The Girls by Lori Lansens and Growing Pains by Mike Shooter


  • (A sad one, this) The stillbirth of a child is an element in three memoirs I’ve read within a few months, Notes to Self by Emilie Pine, Threads by William Henry Searle, and The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch


  • A character’s parents both died in a car accident in The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff and Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler


  • Two books open on New Year’s Eve 2008 and comment on President Obama’s election: Ordinary People by Diana Evans and Rabbits for Food by Binnie Kirshenbaum
  • Three novels in which both romantic partners are artists and find themselves (at least subconsciously) in competition: The Narrow Land by Christine Dwyer Hickey, The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer and Stanley and Elsie by Nicola Upson


  • There’s a Czech father (or father figure) in The Florist’s Daughter by Patricia Hampl and The Girls by Lori Lansens


  • I’d never heard of 4chan before, but then encountered it twice in quick succession, first in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson and then in The Unauthorised Biography of Ezra Maas by Daniel James


  • (Another sad one) Descriptions of the awful sound someone makes when they learn a partner or child has died in Hard Pushed by Leah Hazard and Jesus’ Son by Denis Johnson


  • Alan Turing is a character in Murmur by Will Eaves and Machines Like You by Ian McEwan
  • Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (a pioneer of microscopy) is mentioned in Machines Like You by Ian McEwan and The Making of You by Katharina Vestre


  • A woman is described as smelling like hay in Memoirs of a Book Thief by Alessandro Tota and Pierre Van Hove and The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch


  • An inside look at the anti-abortion movement in Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood and Crazy for God by Frank Schaeffer


  • The attempted adoption of a four-year-old boy who’s been in foster care is an element in The Ginger Child by Patrick Flanery and Machines Like You by Ian McEwan


  • The loss of a difficult father who was an architect is an element in All the Lives We Ever Lived by Katharine Smyth and The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch (and in last year’s Implosion by Elizabeth Garber)
  • The improv mantra “Yes, and…” is mentioned in No Happy Endings: A Memoir by Nora McInerny by Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: An Introvert’s Year of Living Dangerously by Jessica Pan

12 responses

  1. I love this idea!! Although seeing them all together makes me realize how unoriginal so many books can be

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wouldn’t call any of these books unoriginal per se. There are no truly new topics or experiences out there, just new ways of writing about them. The joy for me is in spotting little moments of connection across my reading, whether I expected them or not.


      1. Yeah I suppose I phrased that badly. I guess what I mean is it just shows how hard it is to come up with a truly original idea. And some things—like two books where women smell like hay, or the ones where old ladies keep balled up tissues in their sleeves—do make it seem like maybe the authors included some received ideas, perhaps without realizing it, in their work.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. She smells like hay?

    I love seeing all these occasions of serendipity but haven’t run across any of my own lately. I’ve been frazzled by a lot of other things going on in my life, and perhaps my reading has been too distracted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve never thought of a person smelling like hay, but there you go! That’s the great thing about these incidents, for me: to encounter such an unlikely element once is odd, but to encounter it twice (or more) in quick succession feels uncanny.

      Wishing you some good, undistracted reading time soon.


  3. I have two for you today: Back-to-back books featured the song “The Last of Barrett’s Privateers”. And one of my recent reads had a character who was wearing a Raptors hoodie (right after the Toronto Raptors won the NBA championship for the first time and Canada was in an uproar (I think we still are!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Excellently random! I especially love two mentions of a song I’ve never even heard of.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s a well-known song around here, but this is the first I’ve heard it mentioned in books. And not just a quick mention – in one book a band performed it, and in the other a group of people sang it nostalgically.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Fascinating: I love these! I’ve not had any good ones recently but then my reading has been quite scattershot (although having said that, your things appear in quite diverse ranges of books, don’t they!).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I particularly like when the coincidences cross fiction and nonfiction.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. […] [Previous 2019 Book Serendipity posts from April and July.] […]


  6. […] 2019 Book Serendipity posts covered April, July and […]


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