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Saturday, April 11, 2020

Geeky Reading Magic

Not only am I on a great streak novel-wise - it's been several months since I've been disappointed - my recent reading also contains a tiny trace of magic. Though you'd have to admit to being geeky as me to have noticed something like this, I am curious to know if anything similar has ever happened to you.

The last seven worthwhile novels I've finished - starting with the one most recently raved about here, Three Junes by Julia Glass - have all been the second book I've read by each of the seven authors. Until novel number three - White Houses (Amy Bloom) - I didn't even notice the coincidence and at that point had already decided on the next two novels I'd read (Emma Donoghue's Slammerkin and Jane Hamilton's The Book Of Ruth), solely based on what was on hand during our enforced isolation. Also: Until finishing The Book Of Ruth I didn't realize yet another element of odd magic - all five novelists were women.

OK, I admit it. Now the geek looked around his book-cluttered house, deciding to extend the streak on purpose, even though he had to be happy with a man for novel #6 - The Sportswriter (Richard Ford). And the first book I'd read by Ford was his memoir, not a novel, making the streak even more  suspect. Temporarily.

Because then, my book club of two - our monthly meeting in March, virtual BTW, discussed Celeste Ng's Little Fires Everywhere, (novel #2 in the initial streak for anyone keeping score) - decided our April book would be The Good Lord Bird by James McBride. When my reading partner and I settled on this, the streak of five (or six if you count Ford's book) never crossed my mind. But as McBride's book arrived via Amazon sorcery on my doorstep, it dawned on me: the streak had now moved to lucky seven! And guess what else? Give up? The first book I read by McBride - yes, a man like Ford - was also his 1997 memoir, The Color of Water. I'm not clever enough to make this up, I swear.

Before leaving you to marvel at my geeky reading magic and search for your own be warned: I will be back to evangelize on behalf of The Good Lord Bird. If I hadn't finished The Overstory (Richard Powers) in the quaint pre-social distancing past, McBride's 2013 novel would stand as the best novel I've read in 2020. Considering the way this year has started, that's saying something.


  1. I take credit for uncovering some of this geeky book magic!

    1. Susan; Interesting that your second comment on my blog (your first being back in the month I started, i.e. March 2011) is asking for credit. The nerve!