Book synchronicity and The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

Synchronicity: The simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection.

Book Synchronicity: The simultaneous occurrence of reading two or more books at the same time that appear to have significantly similar plots or subplots but have no discernible causal connection. 

It happens sometimes in life: some thought, some object, some word appears in  different aspects of your life, although those aspects are totally unrelated. You hear mention of an old Country Western singer randomly in a comment on the Today show, then you see his CD on the clearance rack at the grocery store hours later.  At that point I will buy the CD, even though I rarely listen to CDs or old CW, just because I believe in portents and omens (well, sort of, but better to be safe than sorry). If nothing else, it would be a good gift someday.

Book synchronicity is even more rare, requiring a set of special circumstances to occur. First, you have to be one of those people who read more than one book at a time (I often have three or four. Right now I have four: an audio book, a book, a book of short stories, and a classic. I switch off depending on my mood, although the audio book is easy at the grocery store, in the car, or while I work). And then the books have to align by chance (reading the same topic for a lit class doesn’t count), giving you plots or subplots, or maybe even characters, that ‘synch.’

I’ve had it happen a few times. The first time it wasn’t really two books, but it was crazy. I was 12 or so, reading Stephen King’s The Stand (I know, but there really weren’t great YA novels back in the olden days, once you got past L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Blume, Tolkein), and I lived in Colorado. A great portion of the book takes place in Boulder, and we were heading there for a swim meet. We didn’t head to Boulder too often, causing my mom got lost in Boulder, and we drove around for awhile looking for the pool. I was sitting in the front seat of our VW bus, listening to my mom curse, reading King as she drove through the streets he was describing. At about the same time of the year. In his book, the streets were covered in death and decay, but in reality they were fine and dandy. It was surreal, especially for a ‘tween (although that wasn’t the term then). I don’t know if that was book synchronicity, but the events were related and out of my control.

There were other instances similar to this. I raced once to finish The Hunt for Red October while watching the movie, literally reading scenes at the end of the book minutes before they were on the screen. That’s not at all synchronicity, but it was weird.

The summer between college and motherhood (I went back to college and finished in my early 30’s), I remember reading three books that were very synched. One was about lawyers in Philadelphia, another about a woman running from a bad guy in Philly, and the heroine of the third book shared a name with the woman from the second book, and was a lawyer, as in the first book.  These books were randomly acquired at varying times: one from the library, one purchased, one given to me by a patron at the Starbucks where I worked.  I can’t really remember much about the books (the first was a Scottoline book), but I remember the wildness of the coincidence.

There have been other, quieter occurrences of book synchronicity in my life – times when smaller instances of serendipity would sneak up behind me and tap me on the shoulder, surprising me for a second and bringing a smile to my face. But my last two books were synchronicity walking, maybe even running, up to me and slapping me in the face. And still I smiled.

I just finished The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith, J.K. Rowling’s nom de plume (review below), and Chris Pavone’s The Accident (reviewed here). This two thrillers, one a detective novel and the other a spy/espionage story,  both taking on the same industry, causing a ripple in my reading rhythm, but also making me smile at the way the world works.

Both of these stories center around the world of book publishing, and the steps a manuscript goes through to get published. One (mostly) happens in the U.S., and the New York publishing scene, while the other takes on British publishing. The worlds are obviously similar, causing me a slight bit of confusion. But my sharp, incredible mind prevailed ;-).

It’s crazy when things in your life ‘sync-up,’ when a subject repeats throughout your day randomly. It’s one of those fun, funky things that life does to keep us on our toes. And when it happens with my books, it just spreads that cosmic joke to my favorite hobby.

So, thank you synchronicity, for making life interesting. Especially during my reading.

Now, my review of The Silkworm.

I don’t know if you missed it, but the literary world was all abuzz a couple of years ago when new author Robert Galbraith was revealed to be seasoned author J.K. Rowling. I hadn’t read the book before the big announcement, but it was on my list. Others had reviewed it very favorably, though, although its sales weren’t great. That was until Galbraith’s true identity was divulged.

That first book, The Cuckoo’s Calling, introduced the reader to Cormoran Strike and his assistant/partner Robin, while they solve a very high profile murder. In The Silkworm, Strike and Robin once again set off to solve a crime, this time the disappearance of novelist Owen Quine. We follow as Strike and Robin delve into Quine’s life and all things publishing, learning all about the industry and the fragile egos of authors in the process.

In Strike, Galbraith (Rowling?) has created a classic private detective, one with tragedy and heartbreak in his past, making him a better, more sympathetic character. The addition of Robin, the intrepid secretary/assistant/partner, adds to Raymond Chandler-esque hardboiled detective edge. Both characters are incredibly likeable and multifaceted. I don’t care who the author is, both books are great, and I can’t wait to see where this series goes.

If you have a soft spot for mysteries, The Cormoran Strike mysteries are great. I give them 4 stars.


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