Book Serendipity, July to August 2021

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 20–30), I suppose I’m more prone to such incidents. I’ve realized that, of course, synchronicity is really the more apt word, but this branding has stuck. This used to be a quarterly feature, but to keep the lists from getting too unwieldy I’ve shifted to bimonthly.

The following are in roughly chronological order.

 

  • I read two novels about the disappearance of a 15-year-old girl at the same time: Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth and When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain.

 

  • Two novels in a row were set on a holiday in Spain: Nothing but Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon and The Vacationers by Emma Straub.
  • I encountered mentions of the removal of the Edward Colston statue in God Is Not a White Man by Chine McDonald and I Belong Here by Anita Sethi on the same evening.

 

  • Characters have the habit of making up names and backstories for strangers in Ruby by Ann Hood and Nothing but Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon.

 

  • The main female character says she works out what she thinks by talking in Second Place by Rachel Cusk and The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler.

 

  • A passive mother is bullied by her controlling husband in Nothing but Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon and Female Friends by Fay Weldon.

 

  • Two reads in a row were a slim volume on the necessity of giving up denial: What White People Can Do Next by Emma Dabiri (re: racism) and What If We Stopped Pretending by Jonathan Franzen (re: climate change).
  • Expressions of a strange sense of relief at disaster in Forecast by Joe Shute (re: flooding) and The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler (re: a car accident).

 

  • The biomass ratios of livestock to humans to other mammals are cited in Silent Earth by Dave Goulson, The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green, and Bewilderment by Richard Powers.

 

  • Two Booker nominees referencing china crockery: An Island by Karen Jennings and China Room by Sunjeev Sahota (yep, it’s talking about the plates rather than the country).
  • Teens sneak vodka in Heartstopper, Volume 3 by Alice Oseman and The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer.

 

  • Robert FitzRoy appears in The Glitter in the Green by Jon Dunn and Forecast by Joe Shute, and is the main subject of This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson, a doorstopper that has been languishing on my set-aside pile.
  • Dave Goulson’s bumblebee research is mentioned in The Glitter in the Green by Jon Dunn, which I was reading at the same time as Goulson’s new book, Silent Earth.

 

  • Reading two cancer memoirs that mention bucket lists at the same time: No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler and Year of Plagues by Fred D’Aguiar.
  • Mentions of the damaging practice of clearing forest to plant eucalyptus in The Glitter in the Green by Jon Dunn and Forecast by Joe Shute.

 

  • Mentions of mosquito coils being used (in Borneo or Australia) in Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles and The Weekend by Charlotte Wood.
  • Different words to the tune of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in In Every Mirror She’s Black by Lola Akinmade Åkerström and How We Do Family by Trystan Reese.

 

  • A brief mention of China and Japan’s 72 mini-seasons in Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles: this will then be the setup for Light Rains Sometimes Fall by Lev Parikian, which I’ll be reading later in September.

 

  • Beached whales feature in Fathoms by Rebecca Giggs and Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles.

 

  • A chapter in No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler is entitled “Flesh & Blood,” which is the title of the whole memoir by N. West Moss that I picked up next – and both are for Shelf Awareness reviews.

 

  • A description of a sonogram appointment where the nurse calls the doctor in to interpret the results and they know right away that means the pregnancy is unviable, followed by an account of a miscarriage, in Flesh & Blood by N. West Moss and How We Do Family by Trystan Reese.
  • Robin Wall Kimmerer and Robert Macfarlane quoted in Church of the Wild by Victoria Loorz and Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles.

 

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

17 responses

  1. Because I don’t multi-task in the reading department, these happy accidents don’t tend to happen to m. Always in awe of your ability to gulp down books!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m more of a plodder (50 pages/hour); it’s just that I put in the time! Work + leisure.

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  2. Ha, I just read about the biomass in Bewilderment! Certain scientific facts do seem to have a habit of turning up in a lot of novels/popular non fiction at the same time. I remember when it was trees talking to each other.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s interesting how pithy facts like that take hold in people’s minds and start infiltrating their writing. At the moment the thing that turns up in every nature book I read is forest bathing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So true! I’ve definitely spotted quite a lot of forest bathing as well 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m pretty sure that MOST of the teens, in the books in my reading stacks ATM, are sneaking vodka. They’re probably passing the bottles between the pages.

    Now, if I mention that a synchronicity I’ve come across recently is two characters having rather boisterous, um, relations (I don’t want to trigger any alarming keyword stuff for your site heheh), in the backseat of a car…that, with the vodka is likely going to make my reading stacks sound MUCH more adventurous than they are in reality. (One of those books is Queenie, but I can’t think of the other just this minute.)

    As usual, I enjoy reading these posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha, I tend not to mention the salacious ones!

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  4. I enjoy these posts even though I rarely encounter bookish coincidences!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Next time you find one, let me know 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t read anything like the volume yiu do so the chances of serendipitous coincidences are slim.

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    1. You never know, you could have two in a row with something bizarre in common!

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      1. should that happen I think I’ll do a little dance of celebration

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  6. I got turned down for In Every Mirror She’s Black – is it worth picking up, would you say? Great serendipities as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s comparable to The Other Black Girl, but instead of the tinge of magic realism it’s got a romance thread. The Sweden setting is a particular point of interest. I’m currently moderating an online book group discussion of it, but after that you’re very welcome to my proof copy.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I’d love that, thank you – I was really keen on reading it and read a lot of diverse books on NG so was surprised to be turned down. I sense a Christmas Box of Delights heading my way again …!!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. […] good Book Serendipity moment (Bookish Beck collects hers regularly and encourages others to do the same): there’s a section in which Joyce repeatedly talks […]

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  8. […] another Book Serendipity moment (Bookish Beck collects hers regularly), in one flashback, Liam gets his driving licence and is off immediately to where he chooses to go, […]

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