Book Serendipity, March to April 2022

This is a bimonthly feature of mine. I call it Book Serendipity when two or more books that I read at the same time or in quick succession have something in common – the more bizarre, the better. Because I usually 20–30 books on the go at once, I suppose I’m more prone to such incidents. The following are in roughly chronological order.

(I always like hearing about your bookish coincidences, too! Laura had what she thought must be the ultimate Book Serendipity when she reviewed two novels with the same setup: Groundskeeping by Lee Cole and Last Resort by Andrew Lipstein.)

  • The same sans serif font is on Sea State by Tabitha Lasley and Lean Fall Stand by Jon McGregor – both released by 4th Estate. I never would have noticed had they not ended up next to each other in my stack one day. (Then a font-alike showed up in my TBR pile, this time from different publishers, later on: What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad and When We Were Birds by Ayanna Lloyd Banwo.)
  • Kraftwerk is mentioned in The Facebook of the Dead by Valerie Laws and How High We Go in the Dark by Sequoia Nagamatsu.

 

  • The fact that bacteria sometimes form biofilms is mentioned in Hybrid Humans by Harry Parker and Slime by Susanne Wedlich.
  • The idea that when someone dies, it’s like a library burning is repeated in The Reactor by Nick Blackburn and In the River of Songs by Susan Jackson.

 

  • Espresso martinis are consumed in If Not for You by Georgina Lucas and Wahala by Nikki May.

 

  • Prosthetic limbs turn up in Groundskeeping by Lee Cole, The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, and Hybrid Humans by Harry Parker.
  • A character incurs a bad cut to the palm of the hand in After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell and The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki – I read the two scenes on the same day.

 

  • Catfish is on the menu in Groundskeeping by Lee Cole and in one story of Antipodes by Holly Goddard Jones.

 

  • Reading two novels with “Paradise” in the title (and as the last word) at the same time: Paradise by Toni Morrison and To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara.

 

  • Reading two books by a Davidson at once: Damnation Spring by Ash and Tracks by Robyn.

 

  • There’s a character named Elwin in The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade and one called Elvin in The Two Lives of Sara by Catherine Adel West.
  • Tea is served with lemon in The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald and The Two Lives of Sara by Catherine Adel West.

 

  • There’s a Florence (or Flo) in Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin, These Days by Lucy Caldwell and Pictures from an Institution by Randall Jarrell. (Not to mention a Flora in The Sentence by Louise Erdrich.)

 

  • There’s a hoarder character in Olga Dies Dreaming by Xóchitl González and The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki.

 

  • Reading at the same time two memoirs by New Yorker writers releasing within two weeks of each other (in the UK at least) and blurbed by Jia Tolentino: Home/Land by Rebecca Mead and Lost & Found by Kathryn Schulz.

 

  • Three children play in a graveyard in Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier and Build Your House Around My Body by Violet Kupersmith.
  • Shalimar perfume is worn in These Days by Lucy Caldwell and The Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade.

 

  • A relative is described as “very cold” and it’s wondered what made her that way in Very Cold People by Sarah Manguso and one of the testimonies in Regrets of the Dying by Georgina Scull.

 

  • Cherie Dimaline’s Empire of Wild is mentioned in The Sentence by Louise Erdrich, which I was reading at around the same time. (As is The Beginning of Spring by Penelope Fitzgerald, which I’d recently finished.)

 

  • From one poetry collection with references to Islam (Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire) to another (Auguries of a Minor God by Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe).

 

  • Two children’s books featuring a building that is revealed to be a theatre: Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson and The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke.

 

  • Reading two “braid” books at once: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer and French Braid by Anne Tyler.
  • Protests and teargas in The Sentence by Louise Erdrich and The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki.

 

  • Jellyfish poems in Honorifics by Cynthia Miller and Love Poems in Quarantine by Sarah Ruhl.
  • George Floyd’s murder is a major element in The Sentence by Louise Erdrich and Love Poems in Quarantine by Sarah Ruhl.

 

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

14 responses

  1. I love the matching fonts! My two matching novels were especially bizarre because they both focused on stealing someone else’s novel idea 😀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m a bit of a font geek!

      I’ll have to find Lipstein’s novel too sometime.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the slightly crushing way that this feature reveals how difficult/impossible it is to be truly original in fiction!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha! But it’s not my intention to spread cynicism of the ‘nothing new under the sun’ variety. It’s more about me delighting in the connections across my reading, the more obscure/bizarre and the more varied the genres the better.

      Like

      1. Oh no, I know! It’s more wonderful than crushing.

        Like

  3. Here’s another one for you. In March, I read Down Under by Leonora Carrington, a memoir about the painter’s escape from the Nazis via Spain, during which she encountered Franz and Alma Werfel. In April, because I had read another excellent book by Julie Orringer, I picked up The Flight Portfolio, which is partially about Varian Fry helping Franz and Alma Werfel escape from the Nazis through Spain.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Fantastic! I adored Julie Orringer’s novels.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. She’s a new find for me.

        Like

  4. Sorry, my coincidence is rather tame: I finished reading about the siege of Arvand in A Horse and His Boy as I started reading about the siege of Minas Tirith in The Return of the King. Both, as it happens, were published within a year of each other (1954-5) though written a while before.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That’s a good one!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. My most recent was When reading Seed to Dust by Marc Hamer, he mentions, Ariel by Sylvia Plath and that was the next book I was going to be reading

    Liked by 2 people

  6. That’s a lot of prosthetic limbs! These are nice: as you’ll have seen by my linkbacks, I have to write about mine as I go along, otherwise I don’t remember them. I’ve just had yet ANOTHER therapy session in a book (Thrown by Sara Cox) after a real run of them, but not a series, just one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I expected them in the one book about assistive technologies for the disabled, but not the others! I enjoy your trickle of coincidences.

      Liked by 1 person

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