You probably have heard about the « Six Degrees of Separation » and the idea that we are all linked by a maximum of six people to any other human being on Earth.
I guess that in Israel it would be called the « Two degrees of Separation » theory.
I discovered that for me the same applies about books: each book I read connects me to another that leads me to yet a third one.
For example, a few years ago, a friend in Paris recommended to me a book called « La Conspiration des ténèbres » (a mysterious translation from « Flicker: a Novel ») by Theodore Roszak, the man who coined the term « counterculture » somewhere in the 60s. It is not easy to resume this book, a story about a student of cinema in the 60s rediscovering a forgotten German director of the 20s and his mysterious but so amazing movies. This leads to a rewriting of the origins and history of cinema, forgotten religions and conspiracies – but not in a stupid Dan Brown way. This is a very intelligent and fascinating book. I read the « extended edition » version – like a director’s cut DVD, the book enjoys an extended version.
Anyway, a few years later, I was at a friend who was reading a book called « The Shadow of the Wind », and according to the cover it was a story about a young Spanish rediscovering in the 60s a forgotten French writer of the 20s and 30s and his mysterious and amazing books. So it sounded very much like « Flicker », and I decided to read it. I could not be more wrong – it had nothing to do. It was in fact a badly written and silly love story.
But this book got me interested for some reasons in Barcelona. So I started to read « The Cathedral of the Sea », a book about a family in 14th century Barcelona. Some people were saying that it was the new « Pillars of the Earth » – I never heard about it before so I read it. It was not – Ken Follett is not a great writer but he is a much better writer than Falcones. Pillars of the Earth was a nice reading for Shabbat when I had nothing else to do and I always loved the Middle-Ages. The following book, « A World Without End » was almost exactly the same book with just a few changes. At the end, I knew all the writing tricks that Follett has been using since the beginning, because he had a tendency to use them over and over again. But I learned a few things about the building of cathedrals.
So a book led me to another one and so on. In this example, the only real good book was the first one – that is supposedly to be adapted as a movie by Darren Aronofsky (the most overhyped Hollywood director ever) since 2003. Apparently it will never happen.
Another case took me from bad books to better one like my 7-books-sagas collection: this is a story for the next post. But basically this is how I like to find new books, surfing on the « intertextuality » that is the definition of the post-modern world according to the bullshit I learned at university.