How Books Choose Us—Sometimes At Least

open book on table next to coffee cup and vase of flowers with a stack of books to the left, blurry and overexposed photo

We like to think that we choose the books we read. That we pick them from bestseller lists or grab them off the shelf based on friend’s recommendations. But is that really so?

I like to enter bookstores and glance at the bestsellers and new arrivals. I like also to look at the classics lining up the shelves in their quiet, stately way.

But often, I find myself leaving without buying any book.

It’s not that I wouldn’t want to read all the books in that shop—or all the books in the world for that matter. Rather, I find that the books I am supposed to read choose me.

Many books find us when we need to find them.

There are books that bring us comfort when we are sad. Books that help us forget we are sad. Books that make us sad only so that they can then make us happy.

Their Route to Us…

I don’t choose the books I read based on strict criteria. Sometimes, I choose them based on their description. Other times based on their title. Sometimes I pick them from a bestseller list. Other times they are given to me or recommended to me by friends.

And I think that’s great. It would be boring if I’d run all the books I come across through a filter before deciding whether to read them or not, right?

But even so, I feel that books reach me through their own route. For example, it happens to me sometimes to learn about a book but not feel any desire to read it, and I pass it on.

Later on, I come across it again, and then something about it makes me want to pick it up.

Books like One Hundred Years of Solitude, Frankenstein, Us, or Alice in Wonderland left me indifferent the first time I came across them.

But then in time, each one found its way to me, becoming personal favorites.

When it reaches you, a book doesn’t announce its presence loudly. It just blurs all the other books around you or in existence, making you aware only of it. And once you begin to read it, that book becomes the only book you can read—it’s as if all the others don’t even exist.

To reach us, books follow many paths…

The path of our subconscious, the path of our emotions, the path of our personal tragedies.

And sometimes, of course, these paths are more direct, and books reach us through our favorite movies or TV shows, or directly through our friends.

Pieces of Your Life Puzzle

In the end, I believe every book is in search of a home because every book is a piece of a person’s life puzzle. A piece of understanding.

Sometimes, a book needs years to reach you. But it waits unleafed in a dusty bookshelf, bearing patiently the taunts of the moths and of the ants until it finds you—until it finds a reader.

And then another piece of your life puzzle falls into place, and you feel more complete than you did before.

That’s the power of books.

6 thoughts on “How Books Choose Us—Sometimes At Least

  1. Definitely. For the most part of my reading life I’d find there is the right book for the right time. I remember picking up a book because someone told me it seemed okay. It wasn’t my usual fair, but alas it was the perfect book for that moment in my life.

  2. Books are MAGICAL! I love being swept away by them. I read the entire Harry Potter series before bed last year, among several other books. When I finished in December, I went through withdrawal! I’m reading The Ninth House, dubbed Harry Potter for adults. It’s much more of a mystery and disturbing, but the author’s use of description keeps me reading. I honestly don’t care who the murderer is. LOL!

    My book club hostess picked, The Unwinding of the Miracle, a non-fiction written by a terminal cancer patient. I’m sure it’s great, but it’s not a book I would choose.

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