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  • Writer's pictureRobert Adams

Lucky Finds

Updated: Apr 28

I CHOSE TWO BOOKS from my library shelves this past week and were they ever gems. Jackdaws by Ken Follett and Calico Joe by John Grisham. These were very random choices.

The two books were easy to get at - mid-level on the shelf, (not too high, and not too low), in alphabetical order (F and G). A quick thumbing through their pages didn’t reveal telltale signs of pizza sauce (a pet peeve of mine). Yes, this was a new and faster approach for me. I depended on the luck of the draw, and it worked its magic.

This newer approach came about after I had spent considerable time researching and narrowing down my earlier selections during my winter and spring reading seasons. I used lots of Google searches on my laptop. I seemed to have run into a rather lengthy streak of bad luck finding enjoyable reads - even after my careful due diligence. I was beginning to think I might be snake-bit.

This more random, fast-grab approach greatly delighted me and I whizzed right through them. Not a behavior that I was accustomed to. The two selections were historical fiction, and the stories were most enticing with believable characters and riveting plots. My research for the genre found this description:

What makes a historical novel believable is its setting. Historical Fiction is set in a real place, during a culturally recognizable time. The details and the action in the story can be a mix of actual events and ones from the author’s imagination as they fill in the gaps. Characters can be pure fiction or based on real people (often, it’s both). But everything about them — their attitudes and looks, the way they speak, and the problems they face — should match the era. Of course, the key to an author getting all of this right is research. Authors are always allowed artistic license, but the most satisfying works of Historical Fiction have been researched down to every scent, button, turn of phrase, and cloud in the sky.

I recalled a novel I picked from the new books section at the library a decade ago. It was a book by Christopher Scotten, The Secret Wisdom of the Earth. I enjoyed the read and emailed the author congratulating him on his new work expressing that it was a lucky find for me. I compared my good fortune of stumbling upon his book to finding a Petoskey Stone amongst thousands of rocks on our Lake Michigan beaches. He thanked me for the compliment and offered that he would like someday to walk our beaches in quest of our elusive fossilized gems.

This rapid and random practice will be by approach until it doesn’t work. I trust I will not be too influenced by the cover design.


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