Have you ever experienced a perfect synchronization of randomness? Let me explain. Recently, my husband and I started a new small group and soon discovered that one of our good friends was starting a new position at the same company as someone in our small group. Two weeks later, we discovered that the person in our group, was our friend’s new boss. In another situation, I was recently placed together with a group of seven other women in the Austin area. After getting to know each other for a bit, we discovered that three of us went to college in Florida. That’s highly unusual here in Texas! We tend to refer to these moments with comments like “It’s such a small world!” or “Well isn’t that a coincidence!”.
My favorite coincidental moments are with books. I recently picked up Shonda Rhimes’ The Year of Yes right before I finished watching what were supposed to be the last four episodes ever of Grey’s Anatomy. I didn’t plan it, I had placed the book on hold at the library a couple of months before and it just happened to be available at that time. I absolutely loved reading about Shonda’s writing life right before closing out the season. This was a super fun coincidence.
On another occasion, I finished Attul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto the day before I went on a trip. Gawande spends a chapter or two talking about airline procedures for flight crews - which are basically checklists. On the last leg of the trip, I sat next to a pilot returning home and was able to pamper him with questions about these checklists! He answered a lot of my questions and was interested in talking about the book. This moment was so lovely!
I once read Beth Moore’s So Long Insecurity: You've Been a Bad Friend to Us three months before she came to our church to talk about it.
I have read books and delightfully discovered that someone else in my family or close friend circle was reading the book at the same time and I had an instant discussion buddy.
All of these situations are truly blissful. But the best moments of collision by far are when I have coincidentally read a fiction and a nonfiction at the same time or very close together that are on the exact same topics. You might be curious how this happens. I honestly have no clue. So much of it occurs around what’s next on my reading list. I break my book lists into categories (fiction, nonfiction, classic, spiritual) since I don’t like reading two books from the same category at once. Books often make my reading list after hearing about them from a trusted friend, podcast, or blogger. I often don’t research or plan what I am going to read next or even review what it is about, I just request the next item on my list from the library or purchase it from Amazon and start reading when it arrives!
The first time I had a perfect book pairing was in September of last year. I picked up the biography, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy at the same time as the nonfiction, All the Light You Cannot See. Both books were written about events and lives surrounding World War II. I would read a clip that Bonhoeffer had written about the dangers of the Hitler Youth the same day that All the Light You Cannot See included a scene where the Hitler Youth were bullying another kid. I would read about Bonhoeffer’s experience in a concentration camp and the next scene in my novel would be about a family that was looking for their father (who the reader knew was probably in a concentration camp). Being fully immersed in the culture and context of the world during World War II through both fiction and non-fiction was delightful. Sometimes it was overly serious or heavy, but I couldn’t have asked for a better pairing of books!
I thought this was a once in a life time occurrence… until it happened again this weekend! I read The Knockoff, written by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza. This is a light and airy, humorous novel about the world of fashion merging old writing habits with new technologies and the awful (but hilarious) personality clashes that occur (think old regime, meets new regime and blows up). After finishing that book, I reached over to my end table and picked up a book that had been sitting there for a week or so, Always Pack a Party Dress by Amanda Brooks. This is a compilation of thoughts and essays by someone who worked in the fashion world of New York City. I started reading her essay about meeting her husband and realized she was at a party with Lucy Sykes (YES! an author of The Knockoff), who ended up introducing her to her husband! How crazy was that? I had a moment of giddy glee and then I realized that maybe books can collide more often than I thought. Should I start planning to read books on similar topics at the same time? I don’t know, but it’s definitely food for thought!
Have you ever unintentionally read a book that coincided with something else happening in your life? I’d love to hear about it!