Certain books come to you only when they are meant to, when you are ready to receive whichever message they carry within their pages. However these books appear, they show up at a time when you need them most. That’s one of the most magical things about books. It’s as if they possess intuitive powers, divinely knowing when to make themselves available to you.
Perhaps on your late grandmother’s birthday, you stumble upon a recipe book she once cherished. Or you finally find that copy of The Shining you have been searching for. Or maybe you are sitting around, eating chocolate and feeling sorry for yourself that a guy won’t call you back, when your most trusted gal pal shows up at your place with boxed wine and a copy of He’s Just Not That Into You.
There have been several such instances of literary predestination in my own life, but three examples shine brightest in my mind.
This is All: The Pillowbook of Cordelia Kenn, by Aidan Chambers: This book found me at B. Dalton in Presque Isle when I was seventeen. I admit to coveting it mostly because the cover, with its lovely shades of oranges and yellows, intrigued me. This book became more than just a story for me; Cordelia Kenn became one of my closest friends, and her words inspired me to write my own, in the best ways I knew how. Nearly a decade later, I still turn to this book when I long to find companionship with a fictional girl who loves and breathes words just as fervently as I do.
Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert: I found a copy of this book at Goodwill and put it on my To Be Read shelf, where it lay forgotten for a few months as the chaos of my failing relationship exploded around me. It wasn’t until just after my ex left that I got around to reading it. Those who love this book relate Gilbert’s story to their own personal and spiritual journeys. Those who detest it complain that Gilbert is just another white privileged female, using that white female privilege to finance her travels around the globe. Admittedly, I can find merit in both arguments. Ultimately, however, this book gave me comfort at a time when my world had been turned upside down. Reading it, I was inspired to take some adventures of my own, to claim my new independence, and to be grateful for all the love that remained in my life.
The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, edited by Karen V. Kukil: This lovely volume found its way to me during my first walk-around at the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick. I wasn’t looking for this book that day at the library, but it seemed to glow at me from the shelf in the Literature & Writing section. It was a very transitory time of my life, with most of my belongings still in boxes in the new apartment I couldn’t afford, in a town I didn’t know. Plath’s poetic language and appreciation for writing and words gave me exactly the inspiration and motivation I needed to get writing again, unfamiliar setting and anxiety be damned.
In My Ideal Bookshelf, Rosanne Cash writes, “I think books find their way to you when you need them. Whenever I feel like I’m not going to live to read all the books I want to read, I remind myself that the important ones find their way to me.”
The right books find you, at the right time. You just have to answer their call, and trust that they know you need them.
Dear Readers – join the subscribers list below to receive emails any time Twice Sold Tales publishes a new post! And head over to the blog’s Facebook page – help me get more likes and shares! Also, please feel free to share links to the Facebook page or to individual blog posts as you wish. Let’s spread the word to other happy readers throughout Maine and beyond. https://www.facebook.com/TwiceSoldTalesBlog/
And, for a sample of my fiction writing, follow the link to read my original short story, “Lost and Found,” recently published by the Hawaii Pacific Review: https://hawaiipacificreview.org/2015/12/10/lost-and-found/