Certain books give me trouble. I don't mean that the ones that I can't force myself to read, like A Tale of Two Cities. No, I mean that inexplicable trouble comes from the books themselves.
I really enjoyed Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash when I first read it. Then and now, it was my habit to give away books I enjoyed to like-minded readers. So I did, then some time later I wanted to re-read it, and I bought it again. Not long after, I mentioned it to someone, they hadn't read it, and off it went. The pattern consistently repeats. If I buy a copy of Snow Crash, the opportunity to pass it on will arise almost immediately, usually through no effort on my part. I cannot keep Snow Crash in the house.
So, yawn, right? But wait. I also enjoyed the first book of The Dark Tower, The Gunslinger when I first read it. But a couple of books in (and we will get to the reason by and by) I decided to give the books away. I sent them to a church sale. I know that I did. And yet, some time later I went to my bookshelf and there was The Gunslinger. A different edition, no less. A trade paperback, I think. I could not recall buying it. So, out it went. You can probably guess how this goes ... and you'd be right. There is always a copy of The Gunslinger in my house, whether I want it or not. I've sent at least four copies away. It always returns. Being dogged by The Gunslinger is just a mite creepy. Eventually I bought Marvel's graphic novel, The Gunslinger Born. I keep it on high shelf. This seems sufficient to placate the mystic literary forces.
Why did I first decide to get rid of The Dark Tower? Well, in book three, The Waste Lands, we meet the deranged and homicidal train, Blaine the Mono*. While reading The Waste Lands, two odd things have happened. The first time, it was with me when I drove my mighty Chrysler K-car across an unmarked level crossing of a seldom-used spur line. Time dulls the memory, yet I am all but certain I checked the crossing. Nonetheless a freight train came along a high speed mere moments after my rear bumper cleared the track. I'd have sworn it wasn't there before I crossed, and it was long gone by the time I recovered my wits. That's when I gave away the books. But The Waste Lands wasn't done with me. The other odd instance came when I was reading a library copy. I was re-reading the The Dark Tower from the beginning, because a new volume was due out. I can still picture it clearly ...
I'm on the subway after work, and I almost miss my stop. Up I jump without time to stow the book in my bag. I get jostled by someone on the way out the door because I am late and people are boarding. The (fairly substantial) book drops straight down, right through the gap with perhaps a page's clearance on each side, and vanishes. I was in the midst of the tension around Blaine's malice right then, and the book goes under a train. Yeah. I wait for the subway train to leave, and I look down ... and there it is, intact and face up. The cover page is tilted up towards me in apparent supplication. And it's the library copy. So, I have to get it, right? It's not rush hour, so I've got a few minutes. Kids, don't try this at home. So I lie down on the cold platform with my head and shoulders over the edge and I reach and just get my fingertips on the cover page ... and I feel a wind coming up the tunnel. Up comes the book, up goes me, as fast as I can go.
Was there a train? No, but for a terrible moment I thought roughly 500,000 pounds of malicious irony
had arrived to squish my head
All that was inspired by this. I had a bad experience while I was reading Lev Grossman's The Magicians. It's not relevant what it was, or at least, I don't want to go there today. It was enough to put me off the book, but I can never remember that I've read it. I'll be looking for something new to read at the library, and I'll think "this sounds fun". I'll grab it (or order it online). When I get it home then it's "oh yeah, that book" and back it goes. But now Syfy has made it into a series, and they (and/or Showcase for we Canucks) let you watch the full Episode One right now, on the network web site. Which I just did (because the decidedly non-eldritch Google tracking powers showed me an ad for it). It seems like they did a solid job of the adaptation, too. But if the book has powers like Stephenson and King's books do, does it follow that the TV series does as well? I had better not watch any more, just in case.
* A fetching image of Blaine can be seen on the book's cover as shown here: http://stephenking.com/darktower/book/the_dark_tower_iii_the_waste_lands.html