"The author of Ecclesiastes and Pete Seeger have taught us that for everything there is a season; likewise, I might add, for every season there is a book. But readers have learned that not just any book is suited to any occasion. Pity the soul who finds itself with the wrong book in the wrong place, like poor Roald Amundsen, discoverer of the South Pole, whose book bag sank under the ice, so that he was constrained to read, night after freezing night, the only surviving volume: Dr. John Gauden's indigestible Portraiture of His Sacred Majesty in His Solitudes and Sufferings. Readers know that there are books for reading after lovemaking and books for waiting in the airport lounge, books for the breakfast table and books for the bathroom, books for sleepless nights at home and books for sleepless days in the hospital. No one, not even the best of readers, can fully explain why certain books are right for certain occasions and why others are not. In some ineffable way, like human beings, occasions and books mysteriously agree or clash with one another."
From A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel.
I wonder why Amundsen had that Portraiture book with him in the first place, and what do modern polar explorers take to read when the going gets tough? Which books might sustain one in extremis? It's no wonder, though, that there are books for times and places and circumstances, because by nature of their own character and personality, their emotional pitch and their pace or relative stillness, books will suit the mood and the moment (or not) just as people do. They too are companions of our joys and sorrows.