Don’t you love an impromptu book club? By the wonderful Grace Farris.
P.S. Bookcase styles and books as self care.
Don’t you love an impromptu book club? By the wonderful Grace Farris.
P.S. Bookcase styles and books as self care.
Recently I was driving to the library to pick up some books and the radio was playing “My Sharona.” It’s not my favorite song, so normally I would’ve changed the station but for some reason I left it on. Later when I was at home I opened the book I’d borrowed and two lines from “My Sharona” were on the first page! It ended up being a song that played in the background scenes throughout the entire book. (Also, the reason I borrowed the book, “After Her” by Joyce Maynard, was because of an article featured on Cup of Jo by the author and realizing I’d never read anything by her. I devoured the book in less than a day.)
It happens so often that a book will state a date and it’s the exact date in real life. It happens to me so much!
This reminds me of when I first heard about was going on in Egypt and the arab spring and thinking, oh no so and so is in Egypt, and then realising I was worrying about my book character.
There’s nothing better than a spur of the moment book club. Love the new site design!
I have a double Cup of Jo coincidence to share. I just finished reading “The Summer Book” by Tove Jansson. The grandmother in the story collects all sorts of bits and pieces of nature as she and her granddaughter walk through the forest and on the beach. She puts all of them in the pocket of her sweater for safe keeping. Last year I purchased the Alex Mill Reading Sweater featured by COJ. I too have all kinds of shells, rocks and twigs stored in the roomy pockets of my sweater. Something that grandmas do.
I just finished Disgrace by J.M. Coatzee and on the first few pages, the main character has sex with an escort named Soraya which happens to be my 1 year old daughter’s name. Unnerving to say the least.
Just yesterday, I was waiting for the R train on Prince St. reading A Little Life. A woman from a few feet across told me she loved the book, sobbed at the end and to enjoy the experience, even though it could be painful at times. I love subway impromptu book clubs.
Me most of the time!
I had a very bizarre book coincidence a few years ago. I had finished reading All the Light We Cannot See and the next day went to see a photo exhibit. Without giving anything away, the end of the book has a war scene with bombs dropping in St Malo in Normandy. The exhibit included photos by Lee Miller (someone with whom I’ve had other coincidences!) that depicted scenes of that exact bombing in St. Malo. It was wild to experience this collision of history and historical fiction.
I had just moved across the country to move in with my boyfriend, no job, no family, no friends…so I read. I found “The Time Traveler’s Wife” and fell into it, hard. I was so immersed in this book and read late into the night and thought about it on my early morning walks with our dog. Without too many spoilers, the main time traveling character has no control over when he will time travel, he disappears and all that is left for his wife is a pile of the clothes he was wearing at the time he time traveled. I had just finished the book and went to take my dog for a 6am walk, opened our apartment door to find a pair of pants, belt, shirt, socks and shoes on the front door mat. I thought I was dreaming this (I had been pulling alot of late nights with this book) so I said I’ll take the dog for a walk and if its still there when I return…I’ll deal with it (???) Of course we returned and it was still there. I was sure it was Henry from the book come to life to visit me and had obviously time traveled on my door step, right? My boyfriend was much more logical and decided to go through the pants pockets, he found a key fob, tried the alarm and recognized the car in our parking lot as a guest of our downstairs neighbor, he went down, knocked on the door and a man answered in his boxers. Apparently he was on some sleep medication that made him sleep walk at times. Not Henry, but thinking about it still makes me smile :)
That’s unbelievable! That never happens, and especially not when reading a book about the exact same thing ?
That is wild!!
You are one cool cucumber! If it were me I would’ve been completely freaked out to find clothes that an invisible person or time Traveller could have shrugged out of right on my doorstep!!
That is just so funny and unexpected!
What about when you’re reading a word and right at that moment someone says the same word out loud. That always trips me up!
This happens to me, too!
One night, I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to get up and do some comfort reading. If you have to be awake in the middle of the night, Wallace Stegner is an excellent companion. He has a way of putting into words feelings that are all too familiar. For instance, “The fact is, I don’t know what I want, or should ever have wanted, and I don’t ever expect to know. What I would settle for right now is the ability to fall asleep.”
I once found myself on a plane, drinking a mimosa, and reading a book where the character was also on a plane and drinking a mimosa. Such a perfect coincidence!
I had no idea how The Grapes of Wrath ended—I finished it the same day I finished weaning my son from breastfeeding (iykyk). I cried hysterically, as you can imagine.
The food thing. Totally do that. When I read The Sun Also Rises in college I spent an afternoon tracking down a good absinthe substitute. Went with Pernod. Hated it. Drank it anyway. When I was done with the book, the bottle stayed in the cupboard above the stove for years and years occasionally coming down as a random cooking ingredient that always made me feel very sophisticated. Oh some kind of anise liquor? Oh I just happen to have a bottle…
Lol I’ve literally never come across a character in a book with the same name as my very Chinese one, which always ALWAYS stumps people I meet for the first time. I can see them struggling with it and trying very hard to pronounce it right, bless their souls, but literally no one succeeds the first try. I’ve been asked many times why I won’t just give myself an easier-to-pronounce English name but I just can’t do it — it just doesn’t feel true to myself. The closest I’ve come is an anagram of my initials, which happens to spell out Sky and which I mainly give to Starbucks baristas in the interest of not getting drawn into an excruciating back and forth about how to spell my real name while I’m just trying to get my coffee, ha.
Growing up in South-East Asia in the ‘80s on a steady diet of Enid Blyton books, I’ve also never accidentally had the ginger ale, tinned pineapples, cheese and crackers and ham sandwiches that Blyton’s characters were always scarfing, especially in the boarding school stories with their midnight feasts, which to me sounded so exotic and unattainable. All those items sounded so delicious to my mind that the first time I tracked down ginger ale to try, I was bitterly disappointed to learn that it tasted nothing like how I’d imagined it! If anybody in any of the very English books I devoured was mentioned as eating the kind of foods I grew up with — like chicken rice, curry laksa, fried rice or Nasi lemak — I think I would’ve died of shock!
Your comment reminds me so much of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Ted Talk “The Danger of a Single Story,” and her account of how – growing up in Nigeria – she only read books about children eating apples and drinking ginger beer and talking about the weather, even though none of that was familiar to her. What evidence for the value of diverse representation in books!
Good for you – I believe people should make the effort to learn a proper name without having to resort to a ‘nickname’, I mean, exercise your mind, people!
Also would be very interested to know what you did expect ginger ale to taste like? Very curious to know!
The Enid Blyton characters drink ginger beer, which is quite different from ginger ale and worth tracking down if you like beverages with a spicy kick to them!
Melodie — Absolutely, in fact I think my life-long fondness for apples is due in no small part to always reading about them! I mean they’re definitely not native to this part of the world, even though they’ve been pretty easy to find and relatively inexpensive even while I was a kid. My parents tried to interest me in local fruits like rambutan, jackfruits, chiku, starfruit, mangoes etc to no avail, because they just couldn’t hold a candle to the ones I did read about in my books like oranges, grapes, watermelons, etc. Representation matters indeed!
Erin — Oops you’re right, it’s ginger beer that featured in Blyton books not ginger ale, although I can’t recall now if it was ginger ale or beer that let me down so badly, ha. Maybe I should get both for a taste test again this weekend to see if my tastebuds have changed in the years since! And yes I do love an extra strong spicy kick in things like gingerbread, ginger tea, biscuits/cookies etc.
R — I think I expected the ginger ale I had (or was it ginger beer?) to taste like a much fizzier and sweeter version of ginger tea, only it tasted nothing like that to me, but then my imagination has set me up for disappointment many times before. Kind of like how butterbeer IRL tasted nothing like the way I thought it’d taste from descriptions in Harry Potter books, and also how regular beer (not the artisanal kind) tasted vastly different from the way it smelled to me. It’s kind of hard to describe exactly but drinks always seem to taste flatter, more bitter and just not as ‘fun’ as the way they smell/were described to me, if that makes any sense at all.
When your neighbor sits poolside with you while your kids play and notices your library copy of “The Dutch House” and says, “I checked out that exact same copy last month!”
Ha this is so good! I’m going to need an impromptu book club to discuss The Push, since I’m about to finish it and WOW WOW WOW.
oooh going to check it out!
I always love it when there’s a date in a novel and it’s the same date as when I’m reading!
Also, I recently started Bel Canto by Ann Patchett while on a trip. I actually found myself unable to read the book on the plane because I felt too claustrophobic, stuck on a plane while also reading about hostages stuck in a house! (Once I got home I began again and wow this book is spectacular.)
I loved that book – totally did not expect to so that was a lovely surprise! The movie…meh, not bad, it was fine, but the book was great.
It’s a beautiful book! I read it during the peak of the Pandemic lockdown in California and I found it to be surprisingly relatable our life at home even though the reasons for being stuck in the house were so different. Not sure I would have felt that way had I read it years ago when it first came out! I can see why reading it on the plane was too much though!
Such a good one!! I read it recently and couldn’t stop thinking about the end for days…
Another to add (though totally intentional)- listening to the film’s score while reading the book! Loved doing this with Pride and Prejudice, Never Let Me Go, & Atonement.
what a great idea!
There are only two books I have ever read with my name as a main character are The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and The Fountainhead. Both of which are honestly a bit traumatizing if you identify too much with the character named Dominique.
My real life book group is called “Eat, Drink and Be Literary”. Pre-COVID we would meet at someone’s house and usually the food and drink were loosely in keeping with the book. Of course, some books were really easy to pair with food and drink (The Help, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake) and others have little to no mention of food in which case the host might use the location for inspiration. For August we’re reading Malibu Rising and I might have done “the sandwich” from the book…a conglomeration of seafood. Right now we’re still meeting outdoors and it’s BYO drink.
What if you did a Swedish seafood ‘sandwich cake’? That is great for a group! But maybe too different for a Malibu vibe…
GG – We’re not doing communal food & drinks at this time. We just sit outside and bring our own beverages for now. Otherwise seafood sandwiches would have been on the menu!
I was just reading White Oleander for the first time (it was in.cred.ible. — I loved every moment) and one of the characters, Claire, wore a delicate garnet heart pendant on a chain in the book. I smiled because I was wearing an exact necklace while reading :) (January baby over here!)
Also, there is mention of a date in the book, July 15, and I came across that part on July15! Wild. Love coincidences like this.
I remember loving that book so long ago!
Impromptu book clubs ARE the best!
I enjoy when books I read close together accidentally tie together, like the main characters have the same name, are set in the same time/location, have a key scene with a shared feature, etc.
Totally agree! Tho this one was not Accidental…
I am NOT a hockey person. Not in the least! But I recently read “Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angelina Bouilley, a YA with hockey and the decisions of teenagers at the center of the story, set in a small tribal community. Loved it!
So, upon finishing that, I decided it was now or never to dust off my unread “Beartown” by Fredrik Backman, an adult fiction with hockey and the decisions of teenagers at the center of the story, set in a small forest community, which I got at a library sale years ago.
Something told me that if I didn’t pick it up while I was still in the “hockey zone”, I might never find my way back there again. Turns out, I’m loving that one too!
Hi K, I listened lately to the audiobook of the Firekeeper’s daughter and I loved it so much. I’ll have to try Beartown, thank you for the recommendation! (talking about impromptu bookclubs ;) )
In the Picture of Dorian Gray, Gray murders the painter the day before his 38th birthday (he’s born the 10th of November). I read the book last year, a few days after turning 38 (the… 10th of November too). Now rest assured, the coincidence stops here and I didn’t kill anyone the day before my birthday :)
Still I’m glad I read this right after my birthday and not before (would have wondered if this was some sort of message from above, should I murder someone the 9th?) Ahah scary.
I am cracking up at this!!
Witnessed an “impromptu bookclub” on the beach a few weeks ago….a woman was walking with her young daughter who was very adamant on wanting to get out of the sand, but she (the mom) saw someone reading a book she had just finished so they stopped and chatted. Walking away, the daughter sighed “Mom you don’t even KNOW that lady!!!”
the magic of books to turn a stranger into a friend :))
I would 100% do this and my kids would say, “Mom, did you even know that person?!”.
Talking about snail serum and growing up transgender.
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From a cracking-voiced teenage boy to a beautiful airport moment.