My question is - are there any known methods (e.g. ever used in history) for selecting specified positions in point 2)?
Your construction is quite similar to the Running Key Cipher, which is soemtimes considered a variant of the Vigenere cipher. There they just start at one position and use all subsequent symbols as keystream.
... He told me that he thinks that such ciphers were used during WWII
As far as I know, in WWII rotor machines were the primary way to encrypt in WWII, including the well-known Enigma. By that time, classical ciphers were pretty much out of fashion already, because e.g. the Friedmann test (see link to Vigenere cipher) was invented in the 1920s, and frequency analysis has been known since the 9th century. So no, by that time encryption schemes had passed that stage already, although surely some people were still using it. Just like today some people use ciphers, which are known to be broken.
But considering the security of your scheme: If you use a keystream from a book, frenquency analysis will break that. Using e.g. only every 50th word from a book does not help, you are still linked to the characteristics of a language. If you use truly random keystreams, you are only on the safe side as long as that keystream is unknown to the attacker. If you publish those strings somewhere on the internet, you are relying on the attacker not knowing that.
The main aspect about classical ciphers in a pen-and-paper scenario is that you can actually do it without spending hours and hours for encrypting/decrypting short messages. Contrary to popular opinion, adding complexity does not automatically add security. But pretty much always it adds effort for the regular encryption and decyption. Therefore, I would suggest using one of the usual classical ciphers instead of trying to invent something new. E.g. the Vigenere cipher with long keywords (such that the message is maybe just 3-5 times the length of the keyword) works quite well, since frequency analysis doesn't work very well if there are very few letters corresponding to each letter in the keyword.
And a final note: If you assume the attacker uses a computer, classical ciphers offer basically zero security.