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Biblio File

I Remember It Had a Blue Cover and... Finding Books by Their Plot Lines


The Snow Queen.,She has read all the newspapers in the world, and forgotten them again, so clever is she., Digital ID 1701881, New York Public LibraryThe Snow Queen.,She has read all the newspapers in the world, and forgotten them again, so clever is she., Digital ID 1701881, New York Public LibraryFictional works are usually cataloged by author and title, not by subject or plot line, which makes identifying books by their plot or story line difficult.

Before you start your search it would help if you can identify everything you remember about the book, plot, character names, time period in which the book may have been published, genre, etc. All these can help in identifying the title and author of the book.

There are some resources online that can help with a search for a fictional work if all you have is a plot line. Also sometimes the best way to find these half remembered books is to post them on a listserv or discussion forum whereby someone who may have read the book recognizes the plot line.

  • The Fiction_L Listserv "has come up with answers to numerous fiction and non-fiction 'stumpers' much to the delight of many patrons, as well as librarians, happy to find the title of a book they read 20 years ago (or just a couple months ago)." 
  • The Project Wombat listserv is "an e-mail discussion list for difficult reference questions." Project Wombat is read by librarians, scholars, students, professionals, and people from all walks of life, so by posting your question to the listserv you are drawing upon the collective memories and resources of thousands of people.
  • You can also submit your question to a service offered by Abebooks known as "BookSleuth"
  • Loganberry Books offer a fee-based ($2) research service known as "Stump the Bookseller" for people who can recall only plot details of a book for which they are seeking. Loganberry is used mostly for children's books that you vaguely remember.
  • The Other Change of Hobbit bookstore in Berkeley, California maintains a "Department of Lost Stories" web page from which you can email the store's staff the book's plot and they will try to locate the book for you.
  • has sections for Children's Books, Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Science Fiction & Fantasy for you to browse or you can post your own question.
  • The Internet Book Database of Fiction has an "Ask the Oracle" section "where you can post requests to help you identify books you read or saw a long time ago, and can no longer recall."
  • Barnes & Noble has a "Lost Books" discussion board.

So well remembered ..., Digital ID 496171, New York Public LibrarySo well remembered ..., Digital ID 496171, New York Public LibraryHere are some subscription databases that you may be able to use to help you locate a book for which you remember only the plot. They allow you to conduct keyword searches for plot descriptions, and often allow you to search by genre and audience.

Lost ball. , Digital ID 1134444, New York Public LibraryLost ball., Digital ID 1134444, New York Public Library

Other useful links:

Search our catalog at BiblioCommons by tag. Library users around the U.S. and Canada can create multiple tags for a title that help describe its content. Similar sites include LibraryThing, Shelfari, and Goodreads. Try searching tags or discussion areas with the plot keywords you know, or create an account and ask for help from other users.


Patron-generated content represents the views and interpretations of the patron, not necessarily those of The New York Public Library. For more information see NYPL's Website Terms and Conditions.

Library thing has...

...a specific group for these very questions and answers. I've used it many times and folks are very helpful. Sorry, I don't remember the exact name of the group.

Maybe it was Name That Book?

Maybe it was Name That Book?


I AM LOOKING FOR THIS BOOK DOES IT RING A BELL WITH ANYONE?????? ~~~~~The book about an American stockbroker and radio show host and Swiss or Swedish scientist (that can make bombs). The scientist his daughter get kidnapped, political intrigue with Arab counties. It was written maybe 15 or 20 years ago maybe 1990ish? Plot reads very similar to the banking shenanigans of today.......except that some one kidnapped a Swiss scientist and are forcing him to make a bomb or they will kill his daughter. They are after all the .....can you guess... the OIL. The ex-stockbroker narrates the story, he says he sold everything and bought land, says nothing else will be worth anything except land cuz you need to grow food..... the story ends with the bomb maker making the bomb with cobalt instead of manganese because cobalt has a 25 or 50 year shelf life. No one will be able to go into the oil fields for 50 years because of the afterlife of the bomb.... ~~~~~~~~

please help if you know the book

I read a book a few years ago that i'd love to find again but i only remember the plot not the name, please write back if you know the name of the book. A young girl can control the dead so her aunt who shes very close to sents her to a special boarding school. But finding out that its not like she thought she escapes with 2 boys and a girl. They split up and she gets caught and held captive in a room. It turns out her aunt is the evil one the book ends with her trying to find a way to escape. Would also love to read the next book in the series. Please help.


I red this book so long ago and forgot about it. Now I want to read it again but I only remember so much of it. Like that the main character is a cat with the only Mber eyes in his family, he runs away over a big wall. He learns mysterious powers and uses them. Theres a cat gang forcing all other cats into submission and it's led by I think a one eyed cat that's white with a blue eye, had the same powers as the other and everyone's afraid of her. There's also a cat I think is named holly that's a cat with mustered colored eyes and later one of her eyes become blue at the end. There's also a dog, a second cat that is brown and falls into a trap. then there's two Siamese cats that are great fighters. Later the main character returns home only to find out his family has been taken over by his brother so he has to beat him. They also learn that the man in the house with the two black(?) cats are robot cats and the man captures cats to use them to make more and that's the trap the other fell in. So yeah. Oh and they at some point go down into the sewers looking for the paradise or something guarded by the pack of dogs that's the family of the dog the main Charcter befriends. Etc.. I think the main characters name starts with a V. Please help if you know ehat I am talking about.

Looking for a website

I have forgotten the site for people who forget stories... There was a site I came across a few months ago that was specifically to help people who vaguely remember the plot of science fiction and fantasy stories. People would post the plot they remembered and anyone who knew could tell them the author and the name of the story. It seemed like a pretty effective method, but for some reason I can't find the site again. I've looked... Can anyone help me?

Finding a book

It was a fantasy book very quirky and in somes minds downright creepy. It was about two monster parents who found a human boy in a dark forest. As the boy grew up he grew more and more knowledgeable that they werent his real parents. he goes on a quest through the forest filled with monsters and finds his real father. His father then leaves only to regret. then the boy finds his father again and the stay together. Anyone have an idea on what this book is?

This is going to be a hard one

I Cover has little girl on it. A floating round orb which is a law inforcer in the background. Homeless and begging forbidden in this place. So they must hide. She is a street kid.. I remember something about a cage and a guy being displayed in main square?

Finding a book

The book is about a Vietnam vet who finds out his identical twin is being held prisoner in Vietnam. He works out a deal for $4 million dollars to get his brother back. He goes undercover as a student and food deliver and plants explosives in a new hotel. He then blackmails the hotel management into rigging the first horse race of the season so the first horse wins. He has made bets around NYC and collects the $4 million dollars. Does that ring a bell with anyone?


I'm trying to find a children's book about pregnancy that I had when I was little. I don't remember the title or author, but I know I would recognize the pictures. It talks about how and why mommy's tummy is getting bigger and shows drawings of the fetus in different stages. It also mentions how daddy takes care of mommy, lending her some of his shirts when she gets too big for her clothes and kissing her tummy.

Looking for a book

I am looking for a book a read 13 years ago. its about a girl who comes to a small town from the city looking for her friends murderer. she falls in love with the murderers younger brother. she get killed by the older brother at the end. The younger brother is reserved and shy while the murderer/older brother is a former jock who goes onto the city to kill but has a squeeky clean image in the small town. I think she gets killed by a river or dam in a secluded part of the town.

Lookig for romance book can't remember title or author

The book is set in historical times in castle. The women in the book is betrothed to her neighbor or friend. But another man wants to claim her and shows up and for some reason she has to hide her brother and the stepmother tells him where she hid him. Then the bad man forces the woman to watch him rape a girl so she will tell him where the child is this is before step mom tells him. He wants control her and wants all she has. Her betrothed shows up and saves her right before she is forced to marry the bad man. Does anyone know what this book is called? I read it several years ago but can't remember name or author.

Looking for a short stories collection (horror/suspense)

The book was a compilation of really creepy suspenseful short stories. The very first story for which the book was named was about a brother and sister (about 10 or 11 years old) that notice an attic window from the outside of their house that doesn't exist from the inside. When the brother props the sister up on his shoulders from a ladder to look through the window, she opens it to get a better look, but is pulled through completely by an unexplainable force and vanishes. He frantically checks, but the same window still doesn't exist from within the house. When he finally tells their mother what happened, she insists he NEVER had a sister. The cover is black with a red window on it (I think). I know it was very popular at the time (00's), because every time I was able to take it out, I had to give it back in 7 days for the next person on the waiting list ...& then re-join the wait list. I believe either/both the author's name and the title started with an "S". PLEASE HELP. Thanks

was it one of the books in

was it one of the books in the Scary Stories series?

hey im looking for a book it

hey im looking for a book it has blue cover and 2 pair of shoes a female and a male the guy prepose to his girlfriend and he did not had a ring he said '' we could go and buy it tomorow totether '' and she did not anwesr to him directly plz plz plz help me

looking for book

Looking for book of fiction about a guy in a coma that ends up in the head of a woman that works at a hospital

help with finding this book

I'm trying to find the name and author of a book I read the story about the granddaughter of Lady Osbaldestone who is found laying in a alley from being attack by robbers is brought home by some Lord somebody.By taking care of her they find this piece of jewelry that belongs to Lady Osbaldestone.Lady Osbaldestone takes one look at her face an notice that her eyes has the same distinct color as her husband and son.She puts two and two together and find out she's her son daughter.

looking for a book (no supprise here)

ok so im looking for two books (plot twist) the first one: has the word hannah in the title. Its a childrens book with a light yellowy-brown coloured cover with a light sketch of a girl. In the book silver theives through a bag of stolen silve (might of been something else) into the back of hannah's father's wagon and he gets sent to Australia as a convict for it the second one: is about a boy who is in a coma after being hit by a car after running after his dog. He eventually wakes up after reliving memories and imagining the nurse who takes care of him. He spends the rest of his life (well until the end of the book) in a wheelchair

looking for a book (no supprise here)

I'm looking for two books actually (plot twist) they are both children's books i read. first on: I read this in 2007-2008 (not sure if this helps) in the title was the word hannah and there were 2-3 books. THe cover of one of them was a light yellowy-brown with a sketch of a girl on it. In the stroy hannahs father is accused of stealing some silver that was thrown into his wagon by theives. He is then transported to australia as a convict. In the last book hannah meets up with a rich family and they help her find her father by going to australia with her. the second on: this one is about a boy who was hit by a car when he ran after his dog. the boy for most of the story is in a coma. he remembers all sorts of things and also imagines the nurse that takes are of him. in the end of the book he wakes up and sees everyone again. he spends the rest of the book trying to figure out his new life and is stuck in a wheelchair please let me know if youve read any of these books and can give me any information about their titles/authors thnx

I'm looking for a book (no surprise there)

It was a book I read in maybe 2011 from scholastic book fair in NY. The cover has a picture of a family in a frame with a drop of blood on it. A girl has to stay with her aunt or something (?) There is a boy there who never comes out of his room. It is soon revealed that there is a charm on top of his door that protects him from the ghost if his sister. The girl accidentally smashes a frame on the floor and a drop of blood gets on it and the aunt (?) Gets mad. The girl takes off the charm one day and the ghost if the sister comes after the boy.

Family by Micol Ostow

The cover description and date sound like it could be Family by Micol Ostow. I'm not sure if the plot elements fit.

Looking for a book

I read this book probably 10+years ago (I would of been 10 or so). It was about a bunch of characters who slowly started disappearing or dying. You find out in the end that the reason they are disappearing is the reader is dying and they live in her memories. I think I remember it was about this girl and her father who were desperately trying to move and keep up from the black hole that was going to swallow them.

Is it the Brief History of

Is it the Brief History of the Dead?

I read this book around 2000,

I read this book around 2000, the plot was government conspiracy to determine future world events, including who the future world leaders would be, price of oil, international crises, wars. A supergroup would meet and plan next big events. Probably written in the 1990's Thanks!

I am looking for a book from my childhood...

The book had a pale tan cover with the silhouette of a tree on the front. It was about a girl named Bird, whose mother was very ill. The only way to save her, she discovered, was to get the fruit from a magical tree in a magical garden. She was alone, and was taken in by an old man (possibly a wizard?) he also took in other kids and they did all the chores. She fell in love with one of the boys that he took in, (name started with S, possibly Sto) and i remember at one point she was captured, i am unsure by who, and also the trees fruit was only able to be used if your desire was unselfish, or not for yourself. I am unsure of the details of that. it was a fantasy book and it was something I read when I was 10. I can't remember the title for the life of me

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