Book Serendipity in 2020: Part III

I call it Book Serendipity when two or more books that I read 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 around 20), I suppose I’m more prone to such incidents than some. I also list these occasional reading coincidences on a Twitter thread.

The following are in chronological order. (January to March’s incidents appeared in this post, and April to July’s here.)

 

  • Reading two books whose covers feature Audubon bird paintings.
  • A 19th-century female character inherits a house but knows it will pass instantly to her spouse in Property by Valerie Martin and Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain.

 

  • A bag/sack of potatoes as a metaphor in Other People’s Pets by R.L. Maizes and Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler.

 

  • Nipple rings get a mention in Addition by Toni Jordan and Other People’s Pets by R.L. Maizes.

 

  • Taxidermy is an element (most major in the first one) in Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett, Wild Child by Patrick Barkham and Into the Tangled Bank by Lev Parikian.

 

  • A discussion of bartenders’ habit of giving out free drinks to get big tips (a canny way of ‘stealing’ from the employer) in Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain and Other People’s Pets by R.L. Maizes.
  • Characters named Seamus in Addition by Toni Jordan and Mother’s Milk by Edward St. Aubyn.

 

  • Wild boar mentioned in Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett, Other People’s Pets by R.L. Maizes and My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss.

 

  • A fastidious bachelor who’s always cleaning his living space in Other People’s Pets by R.L. Maizes and Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler.

 

  • A character is a blogger in Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Other People’s Pets by R.L. Maizes and My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss.

 

  • Norfolk settings in Wild Child by Patrick Barkham and Bird Therapy by Joe Harkness (and both were on the Wainwright Prize longlist).
  • A close aunt‒niece relationship in Mostly Dead Things by Kristen Arnett and Addition by Toni Jordan.

 

  • A guy does dumb accents when talking about food, and specifically a French accent for “hamburger,” in Addition by Toni Jordan and Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler.

 

  • Recipes for a potato salad that is dressed with oil and vinegar rather than mayonnaise in Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl and My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss.

 

  • Mentions of the Watergate hearings in A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne and Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl.

 

  • Twins in Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne and The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani.

 

  • Characters nicknamed “Lefty” in Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and Modern Lovers by Emma Straub.
  • Characters named Abir/Abeer in A Traveller at the Gates of Wisdom by John Boyne and Apeirogon by Colum McCann.

 

  • Kayaking in Scotland in The Frayed Atlantic Edge by David Gange and Summerwater by Sarah Moss.

 

  • The military coup in Nigeria features in Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and The Shadow of the Sun by Ryszard Kapuściński.

 

  • The song “White Christmas” is quoted in Mudbound by Hillary Jordan and Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin.

 

  • The fact that fingerprints are formed by the fetus touching the uterine wall appears in Marrow by Elizabeth Lesser and You Will Never Be Forgotten by Mary South.
  • Orkney as a setting in Close to Where the Heart Gives Out by Malcolm Alexander and The Frayed Atlantic Edge by David Gange. I’m hankering to go back!

 

  • Teresa of Ávila is mentioned in Marrow by Elizabeth Lesser and You Will Never Be Forgotten by Mary South.

 

  • A dog named Bingo in Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. (B-I-N-G-O!)

 

  • Four sisters are given a joint name in A Crime in the Neighborhood by Suzanne Berne (Fran-Claire-Lois-Ada) and Marrow by Elizabeth Lesser (KaLiMaJo).

 

  • The same Lilla Watson quote (“If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together”) appears in both The Gospel of Trees by Apricot Irving and Marrow by Elizabeth Lesser.

 

  • An Irish author and Hong Kong setting for Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan and The Distance Between Us by Maggie O’Farrell.
  • The Dorothy Parker quote “Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses” appears in both What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez and First Time Ever by Peggy Seeger.

 

What’s the weirdest reading coincidence you’ve had lately?

19 responses

  1. I’ve tried to mention you even if I haven’t linked when I’ve found them – I’ve had pairs of Aubusson carpets in The Ladies of Lyndon and The Serial Garden, a man in a green polo shirt stopping people’s progress in The Book of Trespass and Rewild Yourself, Full Disclosure and Queenie both open with a Black woman in a gynae appointment, and Tenterhooks and Does it Show both feature a character who is really into having plain walls with no decoration.

    I love this theme of yours and noticing ones in my own, less numerous, reading!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome! I remember seeing a couple of those on your blog. The carpets and gynae appointment are particularly striking. Are you a one book at a time person, or did you notice these in books you were reading simultaneously?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I usually read two at a time, often a fiction and non-fiction – one for mealtimes and one not suitable for mealtimes because it’s a pretty copy or more icky content. All of these were books read at the same time or close to each other apart from the gynae one which just struck me.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. My e-reading is for the cross trainer and lunches — though my husband has been home pretty much all the time for the last six months, so we have all our meals together! Soon he’ll be back to campus 2-3 days a week and I’ll read through my lunches.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Matthew will still be here for the foreseeable but we don’t always coordinate on lunches so I’m often reading to the sound of his meeting, muffled by having the door closed!

        Like

  2. Some of these are so random! I love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think my favourite this time round was the random fact about how fingerprints form because I read it in one book one night and then the next morning read it in another!

      Like

  3. Ha! You’re so clever with this, It takes me all my time to make links for Six Degrees…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh, I’ll have to remember to mine these posts if I’m stuck for a link in a future month!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Happy to help .. 😉

        Like

  4. I’m so excited when I run into these ‘serendipitous’ moments, but it’s not nearly as often as you do. I think you have a better memory for details.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I write them down or post them to Twitter immediately, or else they’d be gone!

      Like

  5. How did you end up with the Fred Bodsworth book on your stack? I read it last year and quite enjoyed it. It’s a CanLit classic, but not widely recognized now, even here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Chris heard about it as an offbeat classic of birdie lit. I bought it for him secondhand years ago, and he read and enjoyed it. I set it aside after the early chapters, but will try to finish it this year. Curlews are one weird recurrent theme in my 2020 reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey, does Chris know about Graeme Gibson’s The Book of Bedside Birds? Just thinking about other Canadian bird books now. Heheh

        Like

    2. Oh yes, he has that one, and Beasts. Both bought secondhand years ago. One even did service as a bedside book for a while!

      Like

  6. I read two books in a row with mention of a Ponzi scheme when I don’t think I’ve ever knowingly encountered it in my reading before.

    Like

    1. Cool! I bet one of them was The Glass Hotel.

      Like

      1. It was! The other one is Hag-Seed.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: