I do like it when books that happen to figure in my current, completed or planned reading — however different they are in theme or tone — somehow manage to display links. Whether it’s unconscious or pure coincidence I’m never sure, but it’s an added pleasure when I spot the chain of connections.

As I follow the Pequod on its quest around the seven seas I’ve been diverting myself with tales from elsewhere as respite from Melville’s intensity. Some of the Twitterati I follow have recommended the late Jan Marks, not a writer I was aware of before, but an author whose attitude was “I write about children, but I don’t mind who reads the books.” Thanks to Jon Appleton I now have a copy of a collection of thirty short stories entitled The One That Got Away (Roffo Court Press 2020), pieces which have been receiving renewed interest and admiration.

As it happens I’m now finishing off a review of another collection of short stories (nearly thirty of them) by the late Ray Bradbury, publisbed under the title Summer Morning, Summer Night (2008). They are — mostly — about summer, as you’d expect. In contrast were the short stories by Tove Jansson in a posthumous (2006) selection A Winter Book which were — mostly — about winter, unsurprisingly.

Also set in winter is John Masefield‘s The Box of Delights (1935), a Christmas classic which I reread as a Twitter readalong (#DelightfulXmas) over the Christmas and New Year period. (I’ll be discussing the interchange of tweets and reviewing the novel in future posts.) The seasonal snow and ice from Masefield’s fantasy reappear in Ariana Franklin‘s The Death Maze (2008), a historical whodunit set in the Plantagenet period and centred on the Godstow convent near Oxford; again, a review shouldn’t be long in coming.

Interestingly, this very convent of Godstow was featured in the first instalment of Philip Pullman‘s new trilogy The Book of Dust, La Belle Savage. The second volume, The Secret Commonwealthwhich I’ve just received as a Christmas present — is set many years afterwards, however, and ranges much further afield than Oxfordshire. A little like Moby Dick.

That only leaves Scott Lloyd‘s Arthurian Place Names in Wales (2017) which I acquired just before my self-imposed embargo on buying new-ish books in 2020. I haven’t as yet found what, if anything, links this to any of the other books mentioned but it doesn’t matter — I’ve been looking forward to reading what Lloyd (whom I knew few years ago) has to say about the reality or not of an historical ruler called Arthur, and whether places named after or associated with such a figure substantiate his existence or not.

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So, this post outlines another example of an unexpected chain of connections in a series of seemingly different books, a phenomenon I’ve noted occurring before in my reading of consecutive works. Is this the kind of near synchronicity you’ve noted in your own bookish experience too?

23 thoughts on “Forthcoming

  1. I’m back from vacation and ready to roll 😉

    I do see unexpected links in my reading sometimes, but not very often 😉 I usually try to do a three-field rotation, mixing non-fiction, fantasy and SF, and a bit of classic here and there. Nevertheless, I do love reading about your bookish connections, Chris!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope your holiday break went really well, Ola, and that getting back in harness isn’t too much of a shock to the system!

      I too in general try to rotate book styles and genres, and I think the titles I mention here show some variety, even mixing and matching — children’s, classic, short stories, historical, crime, non-fiction, fantasy, small town, epic — but I am fascinated by patterns. When I note coincidences and synchronicities I see it as my mind being alert to patterns of recognition and to obsessions and not (as some are oddly prone to) as the hand of some Fate or the supernatural intervening.

      Anyway, I’m glad you enjoy my random ruminations; it’s just meant as a bit of fun, nothing profound or of philosophical merit!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh yes, you read a diverse choice of literature and I’m always happy to learn more about your literary adventures and ruminations!
        The holidays were wonderful, thank you! 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I do love a chain/list, and this one is intriguing. I’m very much looking forward to hearing about The Death Maze, I’m a sucker for historical detection, and I love that cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Cath, I’ve always been intrigued by the Six Degrees of Separation meme that many book bloggers (‘blookers’? is that what we are?) participate in, but never tempted — this kind of exercise seems to me much more my thing.

      The Death Maze was fun, bolstered up by a moral message I agree with, and I plan to post a review within the next few days — I’ll leave further discussion till then. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I too find the ‘six degrees’ challenge fascinating, though all too often I’ve not read the starting place. I like your take.

        Thanks for the Death Maze cliff-hanger, I’ll be keeping watch for that review…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I love those synchronicities too, Chris. And they seem to occur often. I’ve noted the Bradbury in particular, partly as you mention, as a foil for The Winter Book which I shall read at some point, but also because I loved Dandelion Wine – also a collection of vignettes over a summer. There may be some overlap but his writing is so evocative and rich that I shan’t mind that at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t read Dandelion Wine yet, Sandra, but I got the impression that this selection of summer stories was in the same vein and even included some of the same family names. As for symchronicity, I guess the more one reads across genres the more one will find similarities of themes, motifs and moods and exult in doing so, all of a different order to those who, say, may read just one genre (crime, ghost, romance, western or whatever) and find the same sort of plots, characters and places frequently rehashed.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I too am always delighted by your choice and variety of books. I shall be adding some of these to my own reading list for 2020. Nice to see Jan Mark there. I read two of hers when I was reading my way through all of the Carnegie winners. Enjoyed them both very much indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Cheers, Simon, it’s good to ring the changes, isn’t it? And by their choice of books shalt thou knoweth the reader (as no one said, up till now). Yes, I’m keen to see my reaction to Jan Mark, and curious as to how I’d never heard of her before: there must have been a bigger hiatus in my experience of juvenile fiction than I thought!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I am amazed about the amount you read. I wish I had that capacity, but my life is typically filled with either cookbooks, or educational literature. Reading for pleasure usually get shunted aside. ~Janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There are many who exceed this total, Janet, but I try to pace myself by taking notes and writing a considered review, as I know many other bloggers do! I’m in fact catching up from a teaching career which only allowed limited time for reading for pleasure, so I’m making the most of it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. How can I resist anything connected to the legend of Arthur. I’m scratching my head to think of any related place names though so will be keen to get the low down from you when you’ve read this.


    1. Just for starters, Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons was known in the medieval period as Cadair Arthur, or Arthur’s, there’s an Arthur’s Stone (one of many Welsh examples) in Gower near Reynoldston, and a Carn Gafallt near Rhayader, marked with the pawprint of Arthur’s dog. One’s a natural feature, the next is a neolithic structure and the last a cairn of indeterminate date, so sadly nothing to do with any any historical figure.

      Or is there? 🙂


  7. Two days ago, I was shocked by a synchronicity event: I was listening to The Haunted Bookshop (1917), by Christopher Morley, the sequel to the awesome classic, a book on books, Parnassus on Wheels. So in The Haunted Bookshop, he makes a reference to The Book of Tea (1906), by Kakuzo Okakura, a Japanese classic I had just finished a couple of days before!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the more obscure the reference (maybe not to you but certainly to the general public!) the more shocking the synchronous event. I was in the last hour tempted to pick The Atlas of Tolkien’s Middle-Earth off my shelves, but just now have seen the headline that Christopher Tolkien has today died aged 95. But I’m now taken hostage by the titles you’ve cited, dammit!


  8. buriedinprint

    It’s such a delight to happen upon these little connections, these synchronicities. And it’s a bonus that I enjoy often because I always have a small stack at hand, rather than a reasonable one or two books underway at any given time. Ray Bradbury is a writer whose short stories I’ve wanted to explore more methodically since I read a collection as a teenager, but his volumes are never readily available at the library. Thanks for the reminder of that intention – I should make more of a point of checking some second-hand shops…he’s obviously still enduringly popular as they only seem to have the same one or two titles (but if I were to check more reliably I might have better “luck”).


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