28 September 2007

Is this a Sign that I Read Too Much?

Lately I’ve been noticing an odd phenomenon. And I don’t mean the weather, which keeps threatening to forgo spring altogether and launch right into summer. Less than four weeks from the end of winter, and there’s already been a number of days of thirty degrees or more; it’s probably hotter here than in a lot of places that have only just started autumn. And I recently had to prise myself out of Dragonfly in Amber to plant some frangipani cuttings which had started sprouting leaves while lying in a heap on the patio.

No, what I’ve noticed is that most of what I read reminds me of something I’ve read - or several somethings. Given that for the past five years at least I’ve averaged between two and three books a week, this probably isn’t surprising. But I’m still reminded of You’ve Got Mail when Meg Ryan’s character comments on things in life reminding her of things in books, and asks if shouldn’t it be the other way around? So if it’s a sign of reading too much when the real world begins reminding you of the fictional one, what is it a sign of when the fictional world begins reminding you of itself - and with alarming regularity, at that?

In the past month or so:

Rebecca reminded me of the Thursday Next series, since Jurisfiction had the Mrs. Danvers clones and Rebecca had Mrs. Danvers.

Governors’ Wives in Colonial Australia made me think of North-west by South, as both featured Jane Franklin, the wife of a former governor of Tasmania.

The French Lieutenant’s Woman recalled The Unbearable Lightness of Being, because both authors acknowledged mid-novel that they were novels, and paused in the narrative to reflect on the writing process. And Tess of the D’Urbervilles, because Sarah’s father similarly sought to push his daughter beyond her class on the strength of once-great ancestors. And The Dinosaur Hunters, since Charles was a hunter of, if not dinosaurs, then at least of their aquatic predecessors.

Since The Thieves’ Opera was about Jonathan Wild and Jack Sheppard, it reminded me of the books where I first heard of these eighteenth-century crooks: A Conspiracy of Paper and Dracula, respectively.

Human Croquet put me in mind of the other Kate Atkinson I’ve read, Emotionally Weird, since both included a mysteriously-appearing dog. Also Shylock’s Daughter, thanks to the time travel-and-Shakespeare thing. (Or should that be apparent time travel-and-Shakespeare thing?)

The Shape-changer’s Wife made me think of some of Jo Beverley’s romances, if only because of the mention of a character named Maloren, which is only one letter off Malloren.

The Last King of Scotland is irritating in that I still can’t think what it reminds me of. There’s something about the situation of the main character looking back over the past from the safety of an island that strikes me as familiar, but a skim through my reading lists has failed to jog my memory. Perhaps it’s something I read before 2004. Or perhaps I’m imagining it. What I’m not imagining is that its dodgy South African pilot put me briefly in mind of The Poisonwood Bible.

How to Kill Your Husband (and other handy household hints) reminded me of Behaving Badly, a comparison which didn’t do it any favours.

And of the books I’m currently reading, Sentimental Murder reminds me of The Thieves’ Opera, being more eighteenth-century true crime, and something else. I can’t think what; but I know I’d heard of the crime in question, and Sentimental Murder was on my woefully incomplete list of must-reads, so I’d obviously heard of it somewhere. And with me, ‘somewhere’ almost invariably translates to ‘in a book’.

Am I the only one this happens to?


Anonymous said...

That happens to me, too. It's weird when books cross paths like that, but kind of cool, too. It is supposed to be turning cool where I live, but it is still very warm some days. It's very strange, and I am ready for cooler weather (though I've been ready since July actually).

Suey said...

It happens to me all the time!

Amat Libris said...

Danielle: After 33 degrees today, I'm ready for cooler weather too. Should arrive sometime in late May.

Suey: So nice to know I'm not the only one!

Anonymous said...

coversgirl, I think you can never read too much. In fact, I think your ability to make connections between books (even between ones which seem incredibly dissimilar) is a sign the you're a conscientious reader. The greatest book critics (or any critics for that matter) do it all the time. In other words, you're in good company.

Anonymous said...

Well I definitely know this isn't a sign that you should read less. Maybe just a sign that you need to branch out into more and more different types of books? You know, an excuse to read MORE, not less?


Did I mention that I learned the fine art of rationalization from the best? My grandmother, who could successfully argue that it was okay to have ice cream for breakfast because it had calcium in it.

Amat Libris said...

J. S.: Wonderful! I like that interpretation.

Heather: I think that might be worth a try - purely out of scientific interest, of course ;-)

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Header image shows detail of A Young Girl Reading by Jean-Honoré Fragonard, c. 1776