Saturday, February 13, 2016

Storyline Serendipity: Widdershins


So the serendipity between these two books doesn't extend as far as the storyline -- that's an exaggeration. But I'm not going to change the name of this meme just because want to point out an extraordinary coincidence,

Never in my life (and my 50th birthday was this week) have I heard the word "widdershins" and I just now read it twice in books I was reading at the same time. How crazy is that?

First, in the second of Ruth Rendell's Inspector Wexford's mysteries, A New Lease of Death, one of the characters makes sure they turn to walk the correct direction because it is unlucky to walk widdershins around a church. I only figured out from the context that widdershins meant counterclockwise.

In Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess, there is a scene where the narrator describes a film festival in pre-war Nazi Germany, concluding with the sentence: "And everywhere swastikas seemed to spin widdershins." What a sentence!

Both examples show that widdershins doesn't simply mean counterclockwise, but "contrary" or "against sense."

This funny word caught my attention the first time and gave me pause. But it was the coincidence of seeing it twice in a lifetime in two books in one week that made me dig deeper.


Have you had the experience of something coming up in a book -- an event, place, idea, historical character, or even an unusual word -- and then shortly after, the same thing comes up in a different book completely by coincidence? I call this Storyline Serendipity.

I don't mean like when you take a class in Russian history and read two books about the Tsar. Or when you read two mysteries and there are dead bodies in each.

I mean random coincidence between two books. I like it when this happens because it makes me slow down and pay more attention to how the event or idea, place or character was treated in each book. I get a little more out of each book than I would have if the universe hadn't paired them on my reading list.

If you experience Storyline Serendipity, feel free to grab the button and play along. If you want to, please leave the link to your post in a comment. Or leave the link to your post on the Rose City Reader facebook page. If you want to participate but don't have a blog or don't feel like posting, please share your serendipity in a comment.

This is a once-in-a-while blog event that I'll post as I come across Storyline Serendipity. If you want to participate, post whenever you want and leave a comment back here on my latest Storyline Serendipity post. If it ever catches on, we can make it a monthly event.


  1. Greeting!
    I just nominated you for the Beautiful Blogger Award. Here are the details:

  2. I agree about the nomination above, you have such a great blog.

    I just wanted to join you in the Storyline Serendipity: This is so typical I find. Once you see a strange word, hardly used, it pops up again. I just had the same thing with Thomas Hardy's book "Jude the Obscure". I had to look up the word 'dipsomania' (I can't find it again, but one or the other conjugation of the word). I have never heard it before, and sure enough the word pops up another time, shortly afterwards, although I can't remember if it was in a book or somewhere else.

    Some years ago my husband got a posting in Benin. Although I thought I new all, or most countries in the world, having worked for the foreign service, this was totally new to me. Sure enough, shortly afterwords it pops up again!

    I will be on the look out for more serendipities! Great challenge.

  3. Thanks Maphead! I'll go look up the details.

    Lisbeth: Dipsomania/dipsomaniac is one of my all time favorite words! I prefer it to the more ordinary alcoholic. Thanks for joining my in Storyline Serendipity!


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