The Books You’re Fated to Read

photo by Ipoh kia
photo by Ipoh kia

It is that very particular exhilarating feeling, when you find a book so scrumptious and exotic you open it with a whisper and close it with a sigh. You’ve found this book through no one’s urging or description or advertising. You wandered alone, woozy in towering aisles with books stacked up to another altitude, on a day when no one seems to have this same idea. All others are elsewhere and so it’s only the sound of your own quiet breathing and the buzz of the florescent lights that you hear. You are looking deliberately for something, a book of fiction about a man who is lonely in a house deserted, but you are half-hearted about this man and his house and this story. You’ve read it before. With a woman and a castle. And you’ve written it before that. So instead you turn and change direction. “I don’t know what I’m looking for,” you say to yourself and are left to ponder exactly what it is you mean.

When left uninspired, it is always wise to choose a classic. You crouch down in the Fs in a position only three-year-olds find comfortable; your knees crackle and you know this limb configuration will have a deadline. Without pause your fingers skip through the shelf, grazing each binding, searching for FI and then T. Your time is up; your knees tell you so. Your fingers must decide. They do and pull back the top of a book’s binding who’s dressed in black and white and in one fell swoop you clutch and stand. Fitch. No. Wrong book. Before slipping it back into place, without a conscious decision to do so, you turn the book over and read what’s been said about it.

“This is what you’re after when you’re browsing the shelves for something good to read.”

A silent gasp preempts your next breath. Your cheeks prickle with heat and you gulp the collected saliva before your eyes move cautiously to take in who and what is around you. How can this be? How did it know? You bring White Oleander home and feast on its beauty and barbed wire without manners or even a napkin to dot your lips. When you’re finished you imagine you have joined a secret book club of members who have also found this book this way. A book you never speak about to anyone, instead you keep its secrets and believe others will read it because it will be fated to them. Just as it was to you.

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