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Biblio File

Finding a Book When You've Forgotten Its Title


Library books lined up on a shelfThis is an update of a previous post by Sharon Rickson.

It can be tough to remember the title and author of a book you read a long time ago—even if it was a book that was really important to you. Fiction is cataloged by author and title, not by subject or plot line, which makes identifying books by just their storyline difficult.

Readers often ask librarians for help finding these kinds of books. And we can’t figure out the mystery every single time, but we do have a few tricks to help find the answer.

First, pin down everything you can remember about the book, plot, character names, time period in which the book may have been published, genre, etc. All these details are clues in identifying the title and author of the book.

Online resources can help with your search for a half-remembered book, even if all you have is a basic plot line. Searching yourself is a good place to start; then, you can post to a listserv or discussion forum, where someone might recognize it. Or, last but not least, leave a comment on this post!

Before You Start

Try Google! Type in everything you can remember about the book — as in, “picture book rabbi animals advice yiddish” — and scroll through the results. (That’s a real-life example of a book a patron was asking for: It Could Always Be Worse by Margot Zemach.)

You can also try googling one key detail you remember from a book. One of our librarians solved a book mystery by searching “USS You-Know-Who” — the name of a boat in the story that the patron happened to remember. (Another real-life example: She Flew No Flags by Joan Manley.)


  • What’s the Name of That Book?
    A Goodreads group with searchable discussion posts and thousands of questions and answers.

  • Name That Book
    A LibraryThing group of ~3K members — many of whom are librarians or library-adjacent — who help solve book mysteries via threaded discussions.  

  • The Fiction_L listserv
    Stumpers! Search extensive archives (1996-2016 or 2016-present) of past questions, answered by an intense book-ish community, or subscribe and post a new one. You can also browse booklists organized by subject, setting, character, etc.

  • Reddit’s whatsthatbook thread
    A nearly endless thread of users trying to help other users remember book titles, including several frequently requested books. Especially good for science fiction and fantasy.

  • "Stump the Bookseller" blog
    A cool indie bookstore in Ohio that maintains extensive, searchable archives — and offers a $4 service for personalized help. Lots of children’s books here.

  • Big Book Search
    If you can only remember what the cover looks like, try this cover-search tool.

Library Databases (log in with your library card)

More Suggestions

Feel free to leave a comment and tell us about a book you’re trying to remember! Our library staff members will pop in and check it periodically, and readers of this post are welcome to make guesses and suggestions.


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.

help me find this book

I once read a book with no cover. The book was about a young girl who was married off young to an older gentleman who owned land. The young girl became pregnant and soon after the birth of the baby it was taken away from her sight and told to her that It had died. The young girl was able to get away from the husband and years later married wealthy. Her husband wasn’t the greatest and during a vacation getaway she had an affair with a young man. Months later she gave birth to a daughter…years later the daughter falls madly in love with an older man and the woman recognizes the man from her affair years ago. It turned out that man was her daughter’s father and also the son she thought to be dead. Please help me find the name of this book as it was an older book and the story setting took place around the early 1900s

I have no idea what the name

I have no idea what the name of this book is but if someone replies with the correct answer could you plz email it to me as it sounds like something I'd really like to read. Was it good?

Do you remember the names of

Do you remember the names of at least one character?

Help me find this book

I was reading this book about these women and they all had names named after jewels, jade, onyx, sapphire, one was married, it was maybe three or four women, they will meet up at one of the women house who seemed to be the leader she could have been Jade, but they will plan to get even with people that has caused the harm, and the first one wanted to get even with a foriegn person that killed her 4 or 5 year old son due to speeding and drinking and was let go back to his country and did not get charged so her and the other women planned to get him back to the us to get even and I think his face was dis-figured but he was not killed. This was a mini seris I think about this Book and I forgot name and author.

Help me find this book

The cover had 2 teens on the cover but you couldnt see what they looked like because they were both laying on their stomachs away with their legs up. The only features of them you could really see were their legs and shoes which I believe were brown converse or some other high top shoes. The book was about a girl who went to live with her grandma/uncle/aunt, she meets a boy and one of his arms are paralyzed and she ends up writing a letter to the president and finds out her uncle is her father. I also know she likes to wear shoes with a hole in the sole.

What book is this?

It was a book about a girl who was found on a river and she gets adopted by a General in a small town. One scene of the book was when they tried to solve a murder case and the cover art was a bottle in a river. It was a fiction book to. P.S. The general drives a phoenix and the main character is usually at a restraint owned by one of her friends.

NYPL children's librarian

NYPL children's librarian here - this sounds like "Three Times Lucky" by Sheila Turnage. Great book!

Sounds like Three Times Lucky

Sounds like Three Times Lucky...

Forgot to give you a catalog

Forgot to give you a catalog link - The good news is that there seems to be a sequel!

This sounds like Three Times

This sounds like Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

Can’t remember this title

A serial killer who was abused as a child and has to count to 10 when he kills his victims

Help me find this book

The book was an old black man telling a story about his life and how he grew up in new york. He was a troubled kid growing up and he remembered how he would skip school and how he'd know if he was getting a beaten by his dad or not based on the mail box. He remembers how in church the women use to dance and shake as they were possessed by the holy spirit and he was scared of it becausr he was confused so he use to cry. He remembers one day his dad beat him and he didnt cry so he knew he wouldn't be getting beat anymore. He remembers how he knew this girl and she had buck teeth and was ugly and then when they got older she was prettier and she didn't want him anymore and he goes "that's how the cards fall " he remembers trying "horse" aka heroin on the rooftop and him not liking it but he did smoke "reefer" and he remembers his friend holding his stomach in pain strung out on horse moaning and saying that he needed the shit. My memory of the book is spotty but i must find it pleasee help

It could be this book: https:

It could be this book:

1980s fiction

Set in New England. Female protaganist named Earline (my name).

Ms Reid is it The Beans of

Ms Reid is it The Beans of Egypt, Maine by Carolyn Chute?

Fantasy book help me find please

I cannot recall the book, name, or author. It started out a girl running from an arranged marraige and some prince that had given her a ring. Cant recall what happened but the village caught fire and the guy giving her the ring or trinket died. Had something to do with the stars. She gets transported through time or to a faraway land where she meets this assassin guy with mildly advanced tech for the age, ie a laser gun thing. The assassin has a follower who is of a race people hate. The three end up finding a large ancient city that was forgotten but slightly advanced like dwarves in a mountain. They work to rebuild the city and tunnels all the while defending from some king or other cities looking for the girl as if she was a star falling from the heavens. They end up traveling through the center of the earth where they find a dragon sleeping which was like the size of the core or something in attempts to make it back to the city before it is attacked. The first book cover was the 3 people on horseback or walking. It showed the loyal friend following the assassin looking dude in a turban holding what looked like a laser rifle. Then the girl out front kind of on a mountain edge. Sort of snowing. I recall the cover of the second book was a cave like setting with a sad looking girl facing down. The back cover looked like a the caravan that was with the girl. It was fantasy/sci fi. not unlike robert jordan book cover art. I am so forgetful but i want to read these books again.

Could it be

Rhapsody from the symphony of ages series?

This sounds like it could be

This sounds like it could be the Symphony of Ages series by Elizabeth Haydon?

Book title

The book starts with something along the lines of I hurt her and I didn’t care or something of the sort and and I can’t find it anywhere.

Help find this book

The book that I am trying to find is something that I read when I was in middle school. I do not think that it was part of the curriculum but something that I grabbed from the school library at the time. The book center on a black man growing up and going to war which war I do not remember,. he out witted a few characters in the story and acquired some wealth, he became a loan shark of a sense and ended up in nyc investing in clubs. I believe around the 1940 50's 60" era. he had to go back home and ended up on a farm where he had to save friends or family from some characters and falling in love. I know that this description is vague but I have recently been thinking about this book and wanted to read it again. thank

The book is about a teenage

The book is about a teenage girl( I think 16) I believe her name is Riley and her dad is a cop and her mom is a teacher. She also has a boyfriend. And for a few days she feels like someone is watching her and turns out someone is watching her. And it’s her real mom who is a fairy and Riley is a fairy too. So her real mom takes her to the fairy world and she meets a boy and she falls in love with him and she has to choose between him and her boyfriend. There are several books in this series I can’t remember the name of the book/s and I would really like to Finnish the series if anyone knows the name and could tell me that would be great. Thanks!

Dark Promise by Julia Crane

Dark Promise by Julia Crane

i can’t remember the book

i can’t remember the book title but i remember what was on the cover... it was picture inside a car and it showed the rear view mirror and some kind of religious necklace hanging from it, im assuming Hindu because the book is about a teenage girl and her mother moving to some sort of Hindu retreat place or something.

Karma For Beginners by

Karma For Beginners by Jessica Blank


This book is about a girl who gets pregnant by this boy and is kicked out by her abusive aunt. One of her friends dies from epilepsy and the other friend betrays her. The cover id either red or orange and it has an image of a mans arms in handcuffs. This is an african american book

NYPL Adult Librarian here -

NYPL Adult Librarian here - could it be Black by Tracy Brown?

I read this book a few years

I read this book a few years ago and can’t remember the name or author. I think there’s a female detective looking for a murderer in a mountain-area in the south. There’s a young couple that she interviews that live in a trailer and I believe the young girl has killed or buried her own baby. The woman who’s murder is being investigated is pregnant and murdered by a well-known man in the community. I remember the clues to the murder being about “See Rock City”. There also something I remember about an old lady reporting that there is a ghost girl living in the area. Lots of storylines, which is what made the book so good, and why it is so frustrating that I can’t find it! Thanks for any help!

I believe the book is called

I believe the book is called She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb

Help me find this book

A book about a 16 years old girl who works as a bar dancer. Her mother died but she told no one and faked her ID to work in the bar and then she was found by her father's friend and gardian who is a rich man . Then he takes her to live with his five sons

Might be Paper Princess by

Might be Paper Princess by Erin Watt

Ok details are soooo sketchy.

Ok details are soooo sketchy. It's a fictional story that takes place in the American west, I think on a ranch. The man that owns the ranch begins to have feelings for a woman much younger than him. It is revealed that the girl may be the daughter of a woman that the man has had a relationship with in the past, and therefore may in fact be his daughter. There's a lot more that takes place and in fact I think the story spans several years if not decades. Perhaps the woman was of Hispanic or Native American ancestry and I think the man was white. For the life of me I just can't remember any other details and it's driving me absolutely crazy I've been looking for this book for years. I found this book at the Milwaukee Public Library at least 20 years ago. It was a fairly large book hardcover I'd say minimum of 300 pages.

This is a long shot but could

This is a long shot but could the book you're looking for be THE GREAT ALONE by Janet Dailey?

The Great Alone

Thank you so much for the response, I know the details I provided are threadbare, but no this is not the book.

Help find this book

Action thriller. Hero is older agent who needs to hide from bad guys. Hides a friend's place, close to the water, chesapeake bay. Action is in Baltimore or Washington D.C.a young woman escapes/ is rescued from bad guys, taken to hideout, she rehab her drug habit. Conclusion is violent shootout.

Breaking Cover by J.D.

Breaking Cover by J.D. Rhoades is a possibility.

My post your reply

Maybe, I keep all of my books. I am not sure I have it. I am looking. I would love more replies

Looking for ebook

I read this story when I was in junior high but I forgot the title what is the title of the story which i tjink the boy is a gangster or a mafia Im not really sure bout that while the girl is an agent then this girl was captured by the boy .he calls ger angel .pleeaseee help me Im so dying to read this story

help find this book

A children's book with an African American couple who recently got engaged and are making their way through the forest/jungle with an escort. The escort overhears witches wanting to kill the couple through subtle means (poisoning fruit from the trees and things like that). Through the days they travel, the escort outsmarts the witches and helps the whole team evade their traps. This book was a big part of my childhood, please help me!


the book was about a new girl and town who becomes friends with another girl and joins their girls club where they had to wear bras. They talked about first boyfriends, periods, and what not. In the beginning when she met the other girl that girl asked if she wanted to go under sprinkler with her.

This sounds like the book:

This sounds like the book: Are you there good? it's me , Margaret by Judy Blume

Help find this book

There's this fantasy book where a girl and her family move into this old house. Their neighbours are really strange and secretive people but otherwise friendly. One day after school, girl meets a ragged boy who shoves an egg into the back of her hand before dissapearing. She's in a lot of pain after that and gets saved by one person from the strange family. They take her to their home and feed her soup while explaining what happened as well as asking her questions as to how she got the egg and whatnot. Later she learns they aren't from this world and that the egg in her hand is a powerful and rare being that was being raised before being stolen. Then she has to meet the elders or something and almost gets accused of stealing it before they realize the egg has already bonded with her. In the end the person who gave her the being dies, the egg hatches into something that protected the girl and she learns everything.


theres this young boy who had some type of cancer in the past that made his hair fall off. he survived and was doing great before he got it again. he had these pills he had to take that helped but they made him throw up. all his life he had wanted to climb mount rainer (in seattle)with his grandpa. but i think his grandpa died..not died tho. so he left a note for his best friend (who knew him well enough to know where he was going ) and then he ran away with his loyal little dog. he got a train ticket, put his dog in a duffle bag to hide it and left his town. he broyght with him his camera and took a few picture of key moment and people from his journey. he got off the train and got attacked by several older boys who took his money. his dog scared them off. he went to a reserant and meant two nice ladies who tried to help him. he called them angles. he took a pic and left. he continued his journey and finally made it to the shuttle or something that takes u up the mountai to where u start hiking. but he didnt have money anymore so he couldnt get a ride. he walks up the road, stops for the night on a small island makes a fire, and takes another pic, of his dog next to the fire in the middle of a river, completly alone. periotically the POV was switching to his friend back at home who tells about how his parents talked to the police, and the frind found th note, figured out where he was going, and is struggling about weather or not she should tell anyone. she knows how much he wants to climb the mountain before he dies. next day he makes it back across the river but loses his bag or something i dont quite remember. he meets a man in a truck who hints about knowing who he is and what hes trying to do but eventually gives him a ride up, and lets him out. he gets to the visitors center and calls his friend, they have a touching conversation ending with him setting off climbing the mountain with his dog. h goes along the path, bu this point hes much weaker, he stopped taking his pills a while back. it start snowing and he eventually loses the trail.his loyal dog is still with him but eventually he gets to a crevis in the mountain thats too wide to step across. he walks along it until he thinks he can jump (im not certain about this part but basically, he makes it across but his dog has to jump now, his dog is a small dog and barely makes it. she almost falls in, in fact i think she does but he manages to pull her out with some rope. he continues up the mountain for a while, just hoping to see the peak ubove him. when he does, he takes a pic, then goess and hides in a cave like thing, unable to continue. by this point his friend has told the poilice, and they r searching the mountain. his little dog manages to cross back over the crevis, and go down the mounain, intercept a search party and lead them back up to where the boy in laying, nearly dead. they take him back to a hospital, and he manages to survive. i know that was super long and that my spelling sucked, also i was typing really fast so it's super messy as well. proibs no one will see this, much less know what book im talking about, but i would love it if u tried. i loved this book, and eveen cried at the sad parts:( i would love love love to read this again:D

This was a children's picture

This was a children's picture book I had gotten from the library in the late 70s or early 80s. It's about 3 monsters. Two of them have talents that they share with the world. One paints colors onto flowers, one makes the clouds and wind. The third one doesn't have a talent. She tries her hand at the other monsters's jobs, but fails horribly. They help her find her own talent (which I can't remember). I think her name was Mary, or Millie, or something with an M. Thanks!

Cannot find this book

Her mother, the lady of the keep, died when the castle caught fire. Her father put fire safe nooks in the next castle that he built so that if it happened again his family could be safe until help arrived. Years later she marries a man with one eye and they learn to love each other. Another who covets her inheritance tries to kill her in a fire and tell the king her husband killed her. She survives thanks to her father and they must jouney to the king before the other man makes his plight


I listen to audiobooks all the time. I like mysteries and thrillers. I am a member of and recently saw a comment by someone who didn't think he was going to like this book, but did like it very much once he got into it, etc. Unfortunately, I didn't write it down at the time, but it sounds very intriguing! It is about a young girl whose mother is a serial killer. Sounds like a Jodi Piccoult-type of book, but I truly have no idea of the title or author. Can anyone out there help? Thank you!

What is this book ?!?

I read a book in primary school, about 6 years ago. It was about a girl and her best friend in a car accident, only one survived, the whole book was written in her point of view and her view being in hospital post accident, then moving towns and growing some connection to a horse ??? Can’t clearly remember any more of it but I’d really like to know what it is!

maybe: Love You, Hate You,

maybe: Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott.(2009).

Please help

The story told a story of a boy that sold newspapers and a girl bought them, but hid them and years later the boy finds them. Those are the only details I can remember.

Fantasy novel. It felt very personal to me for some reason.

This fantasy book felt extremely real. The cover had the picture of a girl I believe wrapped and trapped in vines or thorns. There was a reddish tint and there might have been an apple. I believe there might have been a shadow of a child rising from a fire on the cover as well. The strory , although I am not completely sure ,spans about 10 years. The main characters were a girl and a boy. I believe the girl fits the strong heroine that rises out of the dust and brings down evil category. What I remember about her is that she is being held captive in a cave in a mountain by an old man. And she has to do a chore for him everyday I believe that has to do with writing. She figures out his secret and she learns magic and escapes outside the cave by the end of the book. The boy character is more introverted and subdued. Somehow he ends up in a school or prison for boys, where they are learning magic. The boy has to beat the other boys to survive. He goes theough challenges of becoming an ant in an ant hive and moving some big object. He also wins a game of getting food while the other boys have to starve. The evil teachers lock him up in a room underground. All the boys leave in separate rooms underground connected by tunnels and the teachers are the only ones who know the way. By the end of the book the boy was getting to be the best at magic. The boy and girl's story was connected but it was not clear in the first book. The first if the series came out 2009I believe, and the second around 2015

YA story set in British empire

I am trying to find a book -- it might have been a novella, or a long-ish short story -- about two young women traveling by ship from England to India during the British Raj. One of them is the narrator, who is traveling to India to join her father, a high-ranking colonial officer stationed there. The other girl, whom the narrator admires and looks up to, is very elegant and a little mysterious. Her name might be something like Hester or Esther, and I think her last name is Keene. I am not sure about the name. Anyway, this mysterious girl, as it turns out, is of mixed race (Eurasian) ancestry. This was revealed only near the end of the story. When they reach India, her biological mother comes to greet her and she is an Indian (or anglo-Indian) woman of lower class status. The clerk at the dock assumes the woman is the girl's servant. The girl disappears with the woman. The narrator tries but fails to find her ever again. Unfortunately I don't remember the title or author. The racial prejudice issues are written about sensitively but without being heavy handed. It's primarily a tale about young friendship and unfortunate societal obstruction of it. The story has a lot of YA appeal, as far as I recall (I was pretty young when I read it, so I am guessing the publication date is no later than the 1980s, although it might have actually been written much earlier, as in, during the actual British colonial era ). I have Indian ancestry and have traveled to India many times, so it's possible that I read it on one of my trips there and that the book is/was published in India. But it's pretty clear the writing is from an English perspective. I hope someone else knows this story! Thank you all so much for being a community!

Story about a little girl traumatized

Its a story about a little girl who was traumatized when she was young at a party and lost her memory was always talking about how she had the same birthday as her older sister and same name but come to find out she was her they were one and the same but parents told her otherwise read it about 10 years ago was my moms book dont know if it was the title or a saying on the cover but something like web of lies if that helps

What is this book?

I’m trying to remember a book I read in school that we also watched the movie to. It was about a place where everything was the same. Same houses, same outfits, same routines. I think the movie was made around the 80s or 90s.

Sounds like..

Could it be The Truman Show?

A Wrinkle in Time?

A Wrinkle in Time?

Fiction book about a man who develops gills

I read this book many years ago either in late '70's or 80's. It was about a man who started developing gills and then fish-like qualities and I believe he was put in a tank and being studied by the government-there was a female character also in in involved but that is about all I can remember-the title was a short one and I loved this book-any help would be very appreciated. Thank you.

Colonists' spaceship crashes, trees bear fruit with gold inside

Spaceship of colonists crash lands before it reaches its intended destination. First-person male narrator. Each colonist has a number that corresponds to their rank and occupation. Plant where they crash landed has trees that drop fruit that has gold inside. A small group of colonists tries to explore and end up inside mountain caves where they discover giant tunneling animals that eat rock and excrete gold. Protagonist is homosexual with no mate.

help me please

I read it a while back. It's a dystopian series book and it starts off with a girl who is found in the other side of the earth (where like there is no life because the end of the world). They're these monsters who took over the world and only a few people remain and sometimes they try to invade what is left of the humans, so the humans have these lockdowns. In the end it turns out the girl found in the beginning was actually a monster and the humans did an experiment on her to turn her human

FANTASY, please help me find this book!!

Okay so i seriously can't recall much about this book except for the fact that i really liked it. It starts off with this young boy who was super poor and needed money for something, eventually he makes a deal with someone and ends up in this castle-like place, i only remember the author describing the rock spiraling staircase. Sadly this is all i remember and i know it's not anything to go off of but i would really love to find this book again! thanks for any help :)


its a man telling his story of when he was out working at sea (fisherman i think) and how he would have to find a bed and breakfast when the boat docked up, he tells the story of how he came across a haunted bed and breakfast, he describes how he would walk around holding a candle for light and walking on stone floors and bumping into ghosts, Im sure this book is a true story and don't know the name of the book or author, please help me find this book, i never got to finish the book as i lost it years ago.

Looking for Teen Book from late 1970s Early 80s

This would have been a young adult book. Maybe set in London. Girl lives in townhouse/house connected to another. Parents are strict. She chips away at the brick between her house and the house next door. Makes hole big enough that when a fire breaks out in her house, she is able to escape.

help find book

it is about a girl who has an ugly mark that she tries to hide however later she discovers she is one of the chosen .There is also a guy named llyan he is king of a certain place and his father is killing all the chosen

I can’t recall the author,

I can’t recall the author, but I think the title is something like “Oriental Rug.” It may not even be the same book, honestly. What I remember is that there was a house that kids were scared to go to, but a man died on the rug in his bedroom. His family was then called for the reading of the will and it turns out that the man was murdered by one of them. They were trapped in the house by a blizzard and were burning candles that lasted an hour for each colored layer of it. Someone was playing chess and each time they passed through the room, a piece of the opponents side was moved. Sorry there’s not much to go on.


Please help me find the name of this!! It's a book about a girl whose friends and family, die, like some of them and the thing about it is the next person who dies is who it lead you to believe is the killer. But then in the end the killer ended up being the girl, the main character that had killed them.

Short Story Help

I'm trying to remember the title of a short story that would be perfect for one of my finals. It is about this family living in a dystopia where they are going on a vacation to the edge of the world. they run into all of these strange characters and it is a very good read. if you know the name of the short story please please help me out!!! thank you!

YA Book

The main character was a teenaged boy who ended up pulling off the highway to this rest stop where a young woman was running some sort of witchy shop (everything looked normal until you looked again and saw that it had been an illusion). The rest stop was some sort of bubble world, connected to other bubble worlds by a path, and there was an evil wizard who was trying to destroy everything and who turned out to be the boy's mother. They managed to defeat the mother, but the young woman died in the process. Any idea what this book was called? I got it from my high school library (2005-2009), but it's been so long!

Help Please!

I have been looking for this book forever now and no one can seem to find the title. I read a book a while back where this girls parents lost the funding for her school so she was being taken out and for her summer they gave her a job where she is supposed to house sit for some people on vacation. She met the guy that was taking care of the lawn and they ended up getting together. She went to the same public school as him and found out he wasn’t the same as who she thought he was. He ended up changing for her and by the end of the book I believe they got married and went in a hot air balloon. I can pretty much tell you the entire story except I can’t remember their names, who wrote the book, or the title. Can anyone help please

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