Books Lead to More books

Friday, December 9, 2011

(Gratuitous puppy pic because I love my dog)

One of my favorite things about reading is the crazy way books connect. Every time I read a book it tends to lead to another one. Sometimes it’s because an author of novel is specifically mentioned in the book. Other times it’s because it’s a book inspired by something else or a re-telling of a classic story, etc.

For example, just after finishing Robinson Crusoe, I started Kindred, in which the main character reads parts of Robinson Crusoe to another character. I love those unexpected connections. You find them frequently in books where a character is a bookseller or an avid reader, but they pop up other times too.

In When You Reach Me, the main character talks about her favorite novel, A Wrinkle in Time. Also, her mother tells her she's named after a character in The Tempest. In The God of Small Things the characters read books by Rudyard Kipling.

I love it every time that happens. It makes it feel like all the books in the world are somehow connected, like a giant game of Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon… but with books.

Has this ever happened to you guys? If so, with what books?

Photo by moi.


Darlyn (Your Move, Dickens) said...

Yes, this has happened to me before. I was actually reading Anna Karenina when one of the characters mentioned Dickens. It never occurred to me before that Tolstoy and Dickens could have known about each other, which is cool. :)

Jeanne said...

This happens to me all the time. I like it best when it's not an overtly "bookish" book, and even better when it's a kind of author homage--in Edward Eager, they're always reading E. Nesbit, and in books by Holly Black there are references to books by Cassandra Clare (and vice versa, I think).

We used to like to get our kids to think about fictional intersections when they were little: "do you think Dumbo knows Colonel Hathi?"

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Darlyn - I love that! I remember the same thing when I read Anna Karenina. In my head Dickens and Tolstoy are so unique, it's like they're from different worlds.

Jeanne - Fictional intersections, that's the perfect description. I love hearing what charcters in the books I'm reading are reading in their fictional lives.

Care said...

I love it when it happens and was even trying to create blog posts for it when it happens but I forget to write most of 'em down.
Lately, I had a connection when I read a Pulitzer winner then grabbed my next read at random and realized it, too, was a Pultizer winner. Other than that, I don't think i've had an connections recently.

Jenny said...

That happened to me more as a little kid -- I definitely read Ivanhoe because there was that Edward Eager book, Knight's Castle, that was semi-based on Ivanhoe. But it still happens sometimes. I've read several books that were mentioned in Diana Wynne Jones's Fire and Hemlock.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Your dog is adorable!

I find that when I discover a new author and I loved the first book I read by them, I immediately seek out their other works -- examples are Richard Yates, and Steinbeck.

Teacher/Learner said...

I did this recently by diving into Bag of Bones after reading It, both by Stephen King, both set in the same town. To add another layer, BoB is influenced greatly by Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca, which was fresh in my mind from earlier this year. Book references in other books are fun but it's even better when inspiration stems from reading and changes a character.

P.S. Sweet dog pic :)

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Care - It took me months of thinking, I should post about that, but never remembering to write down examples. I finally wrote down a few, but I know there are tons I forgot about.

Jenny - It always felt like magic when it happened when I was little. Some part of me was always surprised that authors could know about other books and character could read books I loved.

Diane - I tend to do the opposite. I find a new author I love and then I ration their books because I'm dreading the moment when I run out of new books.

Teacher/Learner - I just love it when an author uses the same town or something. I thought it was interesting the Anita Shreve books Fortune's Rocks, Sea Glass and Pilot's Wife are all set in the same house, but in different decades.

Bybee said...

I love how the Pulitzers have led me far afield with lots of connections.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Bybee - I've found the same thing to be true. The 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die list has done the same thing for me.