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I have a variation on this them in that I buy a book and it sits on my shelves for ages. Then one day, for no reason at all, I look at this book and decide now is the time to read it and I do. Cannot explain this. This week is a classic example of this. I took down a battered old copy, bought in a second hand bookshop, of My Autobiography by Anthony Trollope which I have had for at least five years, sat down and read it straight through totally enthralled.

I am sure this has happened to others as well. Hasn't it??


I've had a copy of The Quincunx by Charles Palliser on the shelf for years; it came up in a comment the other day, and now I want to read it a.s.a.p.!

Dark Puss

My books are all inanimate and thus can't "find" anyone. My answer is a resounding no.


No chance finds? No serendipitous gifts?

Dark Puss

Chance finds are not the book's doing! Actually I'm not sure I can think of any that I'd put into that category, they always seem to require a lot of relatively structured searching in shops on my part. Serendipitous gifts are due to the insights and thoughfulness of the kind person giving it to me and not any "magic" on behalf of the book.


I think you've taken my question too literally, DP! I don't think Frances actually meant that the book is the active body here, but what I had in mind was more like when you're thinking about a person and you suddenly bump into them, and not in a place you'd usually see them. Coincidence. Perhaps you've been seeking an out-of-print book and just happened to find a copy at the school fair or similar, or were given it as a gift (when you hadn't made your wishes known in advance), or maybe you picked up a discarded book on a train and it turned out to be the best thing you'd read. Your own policy of library browsing and trying books you know nothing about, choosing things almost 'blindfold', as it were, seems to me to border on this - chance playing a big part in determining what you read, not always successfully, but with good enough results to continue doing it in that way.

Dark Puss

I was of course being very literal in my answer, but I certainly don't subscribe to her view that I was confident in another one of my freaky beliefs that a book had found me. When I borrow randomly, quite a lot of the time the book goes back after I have read 20 pages, sometimes the book is to my taste, often the book is an OK read and nothing more. In what sense does that support the hypothesis?

I borrow randomly primarily to ensure that my tastes are challenged and that I'm not confining my reading purely to books that I have a hunch I will like, or that friends and reviewiers whose views I regard highly in literary matters have recommended to me.


Dark Puss has a scientific mind and could probably write an equation that would give me the mathematical probability.
But I'm often delighted at finding a slightly obscure book that's been on my mind when I'm rummaging in charity shops. (On Saturday it was pristine copy of Gissing's Odd Women which I've been wanting to read for ages.)
But Puss would say that's Oxfam donations/visits ± house clearances x (mortality rate of elderly academics) expressed as fraction of local population.
Or something like that? Come on Puss...
In other words some charity shops are better worth a visit than others!


It has sort-of happened to me. I read a book by Leo Walmsley which I loved so much that I wanted to read his others that were set in Bramblewick - aka Robin Hood's Bay on the Yorkshire coast which is one of my favourite places.
Unfortunately the library reserves only had the book I had read, most of the others were out of print and second hand prices on-line were far higher than I allow myself to pay, so I resigned myself to not reading them any time soon.
A week or so later I had time to kill so I went into a charity shop that I rarely visit and there, hiding in box of old hardbacks and priced at 50p was one of the Walmsley books!


Wonderful! I've just been to our nearest charity bookshop to drop off some books and of course I had a browse, too, but came away with nothing - no great finds for me today.


Now that's the shop I'd like to live near!

Barbara MacLeod

I seem to recall saying to DP some time ago that it was a scientist, Louis Pasteur, who pointed out that "Chance favours the prepared mind"!

Dark Puss

You did indeed and with regard to experiments then I agree. I guess if I approached book "buying" (and you all know I don't anymore) in the same way as I approach experimental physics then maybe my success rate might be higher!

Dark Puss

I'll work on it ...


I'll sure you'll come up with something of great mathematical elegance!

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