Such a wonderful sort of haunting.

So a few minutes ago I was doing a Fantastic Strangelings Book Club zoom with Virginia Feito while we discussed serial killers, true crime documentaries and I vomited all of my ridiculous Mrs. March theories on her and it was so much fun but then this thing happened that I have to write down because you need to know why I’m maybe crying a little.

So I’ve written here before about how my late granny was the inspiration for the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club and how she shared all her strange and wonderful books with me when I was young (possibly too young, but there is no greater guilty pleasure than reading a book you shouldn’t be reading) and how whenever I pick a book for the club I pick the one I think my granny would like the most. Mrs. March was one of the most grannyesque-books I’ve ever read so I knew instantly it was the one even though it was a wee bit darker than my usual picks because as soon as I read it I had a thousand theories and desperately wished that granny was still around so I could share it with her.

A few years ago when she moved into a memory home (fuck you, dementia) she gave me a small stack of the books we’d loved together. Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Stephen King. All first editions in terrible shape because she (like me) believed good books should be used and loved and carried everywhere and shared with everyone you know.

One of the books she gave me was Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives and during the zoom call I thought I saw that exact book right behind Virginia. Like…the exact same book. But that would be weird as hell because that book is so specific and was printed before we were even born and also Virginia lives in Spain but it felt so much like a small wink from my granny that I couldn’t ignore, so I emailed Virginia and was like, “Weird question but is that the 1972 edition of The Stepford Wives behind you? This one specifically?”

And she was like, “That’s exactly right! I got it at the wonderful second-hand bookstore ‘Desperate Literature‘ in Madrid. Mine says ‘book club edition’ on the inside flap?”

And I looked inside and guess what? So does mine.

So this amazing book club that I started in homage to my grandmother who inspired me to take chances on new books and that saved my bookshop and my sanity during the last year and a half? The books that my grandmother passed on to me that shaped my love of books were from her book club…one I didn’t even know she’d ever been in. And her copy of The Shining from 1977? Book club edition. The 1978 copy of The Stand? Book club edition. All of them were new and untested books mailed to her when she was not much older than I am now. And now I mail new and untested books to people all over the world to keep the story going.

I know it’s just a coincidence, and that book-of-the-month clubs were very popular in the 70s and that probably there are lots of copies out there even as far away as Spain, but this feels too on-the-nose not to at least acknowledge, because these strange moments are what make life seem a little bit magical, and they’re too rare to not hold close and celebrate.

So I thought I would share this one with you.

The world is so small and beautiful sometimes.

Thank you for being part of mine.

PS. If you missed our live talk on zoom we’ll put it up on the Nowhere Youtube page soon and you can see me and Virginia getting progressively drunker as we make plans to impersonate Charles Dickens. Related: I shouldn’t be allowed to interview authors.

82 thoughts on “Such a wonderful sort of haunting.

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  1. It is such a small magical world! Your Grandma is watching over you and loving this moment! I feel that way about my Grandma and Mom whenever I sew something! 😍

  2. OMG OMG OMG! I had that exact same copy of the Stepford Wives, too!! Not anymore, because at some point I simply couldn’t cart around 2500+ books from move to move, but yeah. That was a creepy book. LOL

  3. I love This Perfect Day, by Ira Levine. Also, I have the weird Rosemary’s Baby necklace!!

  4. Love it! And I also read books that supposed to be far above my age – I Never Promised You a Rose Garden was probably not as appreciated by 9 year-old me as it would have been at 14.

  5. This is the kind of thing that keeps me going in life. This beautiful possibilities/ probabilities come to life. Thanks for sharing this!

  6. Loved secretly read Stepford Wives at like age 10. Now you’ve made reading even more magical like it’s a starlit thread connecting all of us somehow.

  7. Au contraire, Jenny- you should be allowed to interview ALL THE AUTHORS. I’ve now seen you 4 times (online) either interviewing or being interviewed, and you are spectacular and glorious and hilarious and I would watch you in conversation with any author, or for that matter any human- no wait, even animals and inanimate objects as well. Yes, I would.

  8. Sounds like Book of the Month Club. When I was broke and couldn’t afford ANYTHING in my youth, I would buy every monthly edition. I think your Granny would agree that some things, like books, are more important than bills.

  9. My mom and I shared a love of reading. I met Billie Letts and had her sign a copy of Where the Heart Is for mom. Years later after Mom was gone, my sis was visiting a garage sale hundreds of miles from our home…found a copy of the book, picked it up. It had Letts’ inscription to Mom. It’s on my shelf so I can see it and think of mom and Billie. Your and your Granny’s books are perfect! Thank you for this story, and for this book club.

  10. I love this so much. <3 My TBR gets bigger every month when I get your book pick. At this rate, I'll need to live to be 130 or so to read them all. Goals, right? Lol

  11. It’s such a beautiful thing when signs from the Great Beyond remind us of the ones we loved who are gone from us now.

  12. Oh, Jenny! THIS is wonderful. I’ve got goosebumps.
    Whenever things like this happen, my brother always says that it’s the Invisible Hand of God pushing things where they need to be for us.
    I’m so glad you got this little wink from Granny. I’m sure she’s absolutely overjoyed with all you’ve done.
    Of course, she probably would have been overjoyed with you even if you were a bum. Some Grannys are like that.
    I had one that constantly told me that I was the smartest and most beautiful girl in the world. I wasn’t, but she sure gave me confidence.
    God Bless the Grammas and Grannys.
    Love THIS. Love You!

  13. Oh wow. What a beautiful connection from your granny to you and now to all of us. Carl Jung would call the synchronicity.
    I was so excited for this interview. It was such fun to watch. You and Virginia had a great rapport.

  14. I understand reading books before my time because the summer after 7th grade, I read all (at that time) James Bond books. Consequently when my daughter was growing up and into jr high, I let her read what I was reading.

  15. Honey, I’ve got news for you…YOU are an author too. So, you should continue to have conversations with your peers. This is a beautiful thing.

  16. That’s very cool. I love serendipitous connections like that. Also, I did not know that the same person wrote Rosemary’s Baby AND.the Stepford Wives. Holy moly!

  17. Yep, I’m 68 and I had those exact same editions from the Book of the Month subscription club.

  18. I have that edition too, “borrowed” it from my mom and it never made it’s way back, oops. I also have the old editions of The Stand and The Shining cause my mom was always a voracious reader. I also have, some, uh, interesting books she hid under her bed that I might have found one day while trawling through her room, as kids do. I read so much inappropriate stuff. So. Much.

  19. As soon as I saw that I said, “It’s a book club edition.” I belonged to the Book of the Month Club for a few years long, long ago, and then the Mystery Guild, where I got a LOT of excellent mysteries over the years.

    You can’t ever go wrong with books, and the thousands of books on our shelves are testament to that sentiment.

  20. This story makes my heart happy! I pray that we all never stop seeing the magic this world has to offer us. Sometimes when I least expect it, a tiny, beautifully wrapped gift like this appears and reminds me there is more to this world than I could ever possibly imagine.

  21. I love that story!!! And you should always be allowed to interview authors because it’s always awesome.

  22. The escape that reading provides is something that was passed down from my Grandma too…she left school at 12 (or rather, was pulled by her mother to look after the other children) and went back at 60 and 65 to get her senior and university entrance in English, which was her passion. In our houses (hers and my parents) there were no books ever off limits – we could read any book we wanted, any age we were. (Which lead to some strange looks when a precious pre-teen was already reading anything she could get her hands on, from biographies of Rudolph Hess to Wilbur Smiths (when Trixie Belden books (which I also read) were considered advanced for my age).
    Bless our grannies and families for supporting our thirst for knowledge and escapism – and what goes around really does come around!

  23. Grannies never really leave those they love, blood kin or not. Adopted Grannies love you just as much. Mine walks with me every day and my grandkids call me Granny in honor of her. I’m glad your Granny continues to bring you joy. Thank you for all the joy and wonder you share with us!

  24. This is the kind of miracle I love most, one that we could easily miss if we weren’t paying attention. Thank you for warming my heart.

  25. Blink, blink, blink…I’m trying to keep the unbidden tears that started pricking at my eyes from coming out after reading that. Especially how you acknowledge mundane statistics-yet embrace the fragment of connection with Granny. That’s the world I want to live in too.

  26. Oh my goodness! . This brought memories of the book-sharing women who introduced me to the wider and weirder world with books they loved. Thank you!

  27. My friends and I call these “God winks.” Someone is looking out for you, and excited to see this moment unfold for you.

  28. Holy cats! What an amazing connection between you, your grandmother, and book clubs! I would definitely be crying too!

  29. That is the beautiful kind of magic that needs to be celebrated and shared, thank you for sharing a little bit of your (and your granny’s!) magic with all of us!

  30. I get little “taps” as I call them from both my mother and grandmother and they always delight me. I’m not religious in any way but these instances always let me know they’re both still with me and a part of my life. ❤️

  31. If it _says_ “Book Club Edition” on the flap, then it’s definitely not Book of the Month (hereafter BOMC). Most BCEs are physically smaller than the original trade edition (how you can tell it’s a BCE even if the dj is gone). BOMC editions are identifiable by two things: 1) the absence of a price anywhere on the dj, and 2) (most important) there’s a small blindstamp on the lower right corner of the rear board, nearest the spine. Bookdealers call it the “Mark of Cain.” Sometimes it’s just a dot, sometimes a leaf shape, sometimes a sqare. Find that, and you have a BOMC edition, I don’t CARE what else you show me.

  32. This is awesome! I belonged to the Sci Fi book club back in the 70s. I think I still have some of those books around here somewhere.

  33. This honestly made me tear up a bit. Such an amazing thing, I’ve experienced multiple random ‘signs from a deceased loved one’ over the years and regardless of if you believe it’s just coincidence or a sign from above or whatever sometimes it’s just so heartwarming.

  34. It was as a great interview and I am awed by the wink from your granny, for a wink it surely was. Thank you for the best P. S. to a super entertaining and provocative hour!

  35. This gave me good shivers!! I don’t believe in a literal afterlife, but I do believe that the cells we’re made of remember where they came from – mitochondrial DNA carries our mothers mothers within them, our cells made new from the broken bits and pieces we breathe in that once belonged to someone else. Those we are closest to give us more pieces to remind our cells of home. Something made your eye “see” that book amidst the background noise and bring you a connection.

  36. Aww that is so sweet!!! I wonder what other books your grandma had from a book club. I’ve been giving a lot of my books to my Grandma lately and she really loves these murder mystery novels by Camilla Chafer. I’m in a few book clubs, my favorites are the strangelings one and the Young adult Fantasy Addicts one.

  37. When we were kids (covering a good part of the 70s, so guess we’re on the edge of oldness now… but I digress), my sister used to get books from the Book-of-the-Month club. She had it for several years, too, so a lot of now well-known names showed up at our house. We regularly spied on the lives of vampires, travelled to Mars, and witnessed tohe doings of haunted doll houses.

    Even Edwin Gorey stopped by once or twice. Still love his illustrations.

    My god, so many of those books went to building the basis of my reading life. And I didn’t even realize how good I had it at the time.

    Her books would be worth something now, too – except they were well-loved, and some years back she tossed all the tattered covers. Oh, well (though future value wasn’t the reason she joined the book club).

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Jenny. Since my sister now lives very far away, may need to stop by the library soon. 🙂

  38. I know you always select new books, but what about reading some of your Granny’s books for the book club once in a while?? Twould be fun.

  39. That is synchronicity in action, right there. Magic is real. Your granny is sending her love.

  40. I have that exact same copy/edition!! Mine belonged to my grandfather, who was in a Columbia House-type of book subscription thing in the 70s (I still have his copy of Roots too) – he thought my mom’s taste in books was terrible (she loves Harlequin Romances) so he would buy her books he deemed to be more “literary”. My book lives in my library here in Victoria, BC, Canada (west coast).

  41. Random question on Nowhere’s lates display… did you do it backwards… errr, forwards the first time around and then have to redo it because people are now shopping IN the store?

  42. What an awesome find (and a great way to know that you’ve met a cool person).

    I weirdly made a yarn-based friend recently because I was checking out her Ravelry project pictures and then noticed she had a pair of familiar books behind her – 50s edition set of O’Henry that I also have on my shelf. I messaged her with a photo of my own set, and we now have matching books and very similar sweaters. 😀

  43. Thank you for sharing this and adding a little magic to my day! And you’re on YouTube now?! Didn’t know. So excited. This day just gets better and better!

  44. CHILLS. That gave me chills. There is magic in the world, and beauty, and love, and people who love good, weird books.
    This is so much what I needed to hear/read/know today.
    Thank you for sharing.

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