Posted by: annmariegamble | January 12, 2010

Serendipitous Reading Choices

I accidentally did some thematic reading this week: Blind Descent, by Neveda Barr, followed by Bulletproof Texas, by Kay Thomas. Both are mysteries that figure largely around caves. Barr writes a series that takes place in the national parks, and this one is in Lechuguilla cave in Carlsbad Caverns park. I didn’t realize that Thomas’s book also involved a cave, but on the first page the characters make a discovery that they think may be on a scale of Lechuguilla. Both books have main characters who are terrified by dark, enclosed spaces, and coping with their fear figures throughout the stories. Both say quite a bit about rappeling and rock-climbing techniques, necessary for travel in extensive caves, adding another possible phobia to the list of problems. Barr makes a joke about it at one point, saying that the only worry she didn’t have at this depth was scorpions and snakes.

A kick of unassigned reading is finding these connections from book to book. The organizing principle of my reading list over winter break was “authors I’d met on Twitter,” which turned out as well to be a stack of historical romances. I was going back to “thrillers” to get back in gear for work on the NaNo novel, and ended up with two books about caves. I get multiple viewpoints about a genre and about a topic.

Do you like to read books in batches? Does it happen accidentally or do you seek out reading missions? Do you like reading books that other people are reading, or would you rather choose them yourself?

Incidentally, Blind Descent has one of the true-blue-ist verbalizations of why to suck it up that I’ve ever read. Anna’s friend Frieda has been injured while surveying the cave and requests Anna’s assistance during the rescue. Anna’s fear of going into the cave is becoming apparent even to bystanders, and she tries to calm herself down so she won’t be in need of rescue herself. “She sincerely hoped that in the extremity of her need, should she call for someone they would come. Frieda had called. Going back was out of the question.”

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Responses

  1. I have been on a spree of reading books about Nantucket. It started when I discovered Elin Hilderbrand and now I’m on to Jane Green’s _The Beach House_. Ironically, even though I’ve been reading these because Nantucket in summer is the perfect escape from Seattle in winter, _The Beach House_ has some amazing similarities to a book I read late last year–_Broken for You_, set here in Seattle. I love seeing how different authors handle essentially the same premise. In both books, an old woman opens up her large house to boarders, but aside from that, they’re very different books.

  2. Jenn, you might enjoy a life-on-the -beach memoir: The Big House by George Colt.

    You’re bringing up another advantage of reading in bunches: seeing how different authors treat the same story (or at least the same setup). I can sure see “an old woman decided to take in boarders” going a lot of different ways, just as these two caving books did–and they were both thrillers.


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