Every reader has his or her own way of picking out books. Many people are methodical about it, they choose books by focusing in on authors that they like, or as they are recommended by people that they trust: friends, critics, authors, newspapers, blogs, book stores.
Then there are those of us that wander aimlessly down the aisles of bookstores and libraries, dragging our fingers across the spines and judging books by their covers. Some of us like books of certain sizes, certain page-lengths, certain colors, or certain titles (based on length, font, phrasing, or meaning). Often it’s some sort of mismatch of a few of those reasons.
But sometimes, it just feels like magic. A book catches your eye for whatever the reason, and it just feels like the right time for this book. You pick it up and it feels right. It sends a tingling feeling up your arm. It feels like planets have aligned and everything has fallen into place. It’s perfect. It’s fate.
… Okay. So I’m being a bit melodramatic. But if you’re an avid reader who’s ever purchased or checked out a book spontaneously, sans recommendation, then you probably have an idea of what I’m talking about.
And what makes it better, is when that book is everything that you could have hoped for it to be, and then some.
My version of this story happened about four years ago, most of the way through my freshman year of college. I picked the book out on a whim. It caught my eye. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I felt an itch of a suggestion tugging at me. For whatever reason, I remember thinking that someone had once suggested it to me. I couldn’t remember exactly who, but I had an idea.
I read Good Omens in 3 days. Three days of classes and reading. The book came with me to the dining halls, where I ate alone, nose buried. I stretched out on my bed in a miniskirt, legs covered in a light blanket because the air felt better on my legs in the sweltering June heat than heavy jeans or sweatpants. I couldn’t put it down. I laughed out loud, I smiled, and I felt this warmth in my stomach that filled me up and made me happy through my isolation. It was exactly what I needed. I loved that book. I still love that book. It’s always what I need. I listen to it when I can’t sleep. I loved that book so much that my ex got me a first-edition, signed copy for my birthday.
When I went to tell the girl who, at that point, I was sure had recommended that book to me, she told me that it hadn’t been her. “But isn’t it great? I just finished it too.”
What else can I call it? It was serendipity.
So, there’s my story. What’s yours?