Go to your local library and randomly select several books. I have found 5 to be a number that works well. Then you check the books out and browse them during the checkout period. If you really enjoy the book you are welcome to read the entire book but you can also just reads portions of a book. Reading portions allows you to learn about things you might not have otherwise read about. The idea is to be exposed to new things.
Why do I call it a Synchronicity bookshelf?
Synchronicity is the experience of two or more events as meaningfully related, whereas they are unlikely to be causally related. The subject sees it as a meaningful coincidence, although the events need not be exactly simultaneous in time. (Definition from Wikipedia)
I have had numerous occasions where the brief blurbs I have read from a book have been useful in a conversation or project. What I find odd/humorous is that the smallest things I have pulled from a book become amazingly relevant.
Here is my one of my best examples of that. One time when I was selecting books one of the books that I picked up was a cultural dictionary. The idea behind the dictionary was to lay out the major terms and concepts that someone should be aware of as part of our culture.
I had opened the dictionary and read one entry. The entry was on the Summa Theologica, one of the best known works of Thomas Aquinas. The dictionary was doing it's job because before that moment I did not know anything about the Summa Theologica. The next day a person comes into the library and says to me that they are working on an analysis of Summa Theologica. I respond, "Ohh the major work of Thomas Aquinas." The person thought I was extremely knowledgeable because I knew about the Summa Theologica. I did disclose to them that I had only learned about it the day before.
Here are my current 5 synchronicity books:
The Art of Cruelty
Learned about Marina Abramović and her performance art - Rhythm 0
Book was not just about Ms. Abramovic but other artist as well.
The Octagon House Inventory
Book list octagon houses around the country. I learned about this book from the inventory book - The Octagon House: A Home for All. I even saw an octagon house in another city that I don't think I would have noticed. I was in another state visiting friends and while driving through the city I noticed what I thought was an octagon house. When I got home I looked at the octagon house inventory and the house was listed with a picture. The house was not in a prominent place so had I not read this book I don't think I ever would have noticed it.
My Secret Life on the McJob
I have read almost all of this book and will likely finish it. It is about a business professor that gets jobs at fast food restaurants to gain inside information on the businesses. It has been an interesting read so far. One major take away point is that fast food work is hard work and you should appreciate the people that work at these businesses.
The most they ever had
Book is about the people that worked in the textile mills. The parts of the book I have looked at so far focus on the closing of the mills in the late 20th century and the impact this had on the people. I found the book very engrossing and after reading it I felt a connection with these communities.
The Deviant's Advantage
This was the book out of the five that I thought I would pull the neatest things from. Currently I have not really connected with any of the sections of this book. The author created a term "devox" that is the voice, spirit, or incarnation of deviant ideas, products, and individuals. Really did not that they presented this concept very well. Term is mentioned all through the book but the description I listed above is the extent they seem to explain the term.
Availability of these books outside the library
Out of the 5 books the only one that I did not see on Amazon at all was the octagon house book Not only are there no copies available but there is no record for the book at all. The book does show in Worldcat. Some things you can only get at your library. Three of the 5 books can be obtained as ebooks. The book - The most they ever had - is available for less than $6 as an ebook.
Additional comments on the Synchronicity bookshelf
If you try this remember you do not to read the entire book. You just look at each book to the extent that you want. I think it is useful to at least look over the table of contents, read the first and last chapter, and read anything you noticed in the table of contents that catches your interest. But in the end you make the rules and you engage with each book to the extent it keeps your interest.
Additional comments on selecting books
One major idea that I try to incorporate is that I am trying to look at books that I would not necessarily have looked at otherwise because the goal is to discover new things. When I am browsing library shelves I don't want to pick just what catches my eye because I may be picking things that are related to ideas I am already very familiar with. One way to address this is that I will go into a row and mentally pick out a location like - 3rd stack, one shelf from the top, and a the third book from the left on the shelf. I then find that book and check it out. Then the selection is not because I found the cover pretty or the topic was something I knew. Because I usually select 5 books I use a little different process for each book. Usually two of the books are selected by the physical method location I just discussed but I will also pick some of the books by looking for ones that look interesting to me. The idea is to get a diversity of books to explore.
Fiction vs. Nonfiction
Personally I usually select just nonfiction books but I think it can be a good idea to select books from both areas.