JenClair and Danielle both asked recently how one chooses books: book store recommendations? newspaper reviews? blogs? friends? book groups? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Add in an occasional rummage sale, an impulse buy at a non-book store like the grocery, and, what is the least logical, somewhat difficult to define, but most fulfilling means: book serendipity.
Yes, I think books choose me as frequently as I choose them -- and maybe even more often. And when that happens, it truly seems like a happenstance; a rare lucky break, pure coincidence. Sometimes a book almost jumps off the shelf and into my hands. It may be its location in the store or library that catches my eye. It might be an intriguing cover, or great notes on the dust jacket. An unusual title might pique my interest. Sometimes it is on the remainders table, a fancy generic label slapped on the front to indicate the deeply discounted price. I have frequently picked up books by authors I have never heard of (some of whom I will never hear of again) simply because the book was discounted; in return I have been rewarded many times over with the discovery of an unknown bounty comprised of real literary gems.
Mix the books from all of the sources together and it's easy to see why I have so many books "in progress", or on my nightstand, or flowing off the shelves of my bookcases.