“I’m looking for a book. It’s like set in a different world and they grow the babies.”
“I’m looking for a book. It’s something about ‘The Joy of Christian Living’. It’s about a guy’s wife.”
“I’m looking for a book. It was set in this town that was really sweet and happy and there was a big dog.”
Bookslingers everywhere will chuckle at these (relatively easy) descriptions of–respectively–Brave New World (Aldous Huxley), Surprised by Joy (C.S. Lewis), and At Home in Mitford (Jan Karon).
But it gets worse… oh, so much worse. We try to be ready. We try to be prepared, taking an example from what one of my favorite stops during our Booking Down the Road Trip does. (If you’re not familiar with this trip, we visited 42 independent bookstores in small towns; you can read about it; look for the heading up top when you’re done here.) Pudd’nHead Books in Webster Groves, Missouri says on their website that they listen to NPR every day, just so when customers come in asking for “that book about zombies,” they’ll be ready.
Sometimes, though, it’s as our friend Joyce described. (She’s at Book Den in Franklin, TN; if any of you know her please say hi because she’ll never see this. She hates computers.) “I’m looking for a book. It starts with ‘The’ and the cover is red.”
Mhmmm. I’m good, honey, but not that good.
I think “they grow the babies” is my favorite description to date; it actually tipped me toward Brave New World. The only other thing that came to mind was The Borg from one of those Star Trek runs. And I didn’t like to underestimate the teenage customer asking.
Unfortunately, sometimes customer requests get harder. See how many of these you can get.
It’s about a guy in a lifeboat.
It’s about zombies. (Really? Do go on; so is half of western lit right now; and two-thirds of what’s left is taken up by vampires.)
All these people are mad at each other, because their dad gave away his land.
It’s about a girl who gets raped, except everybody blames her.
It’s about a woman whose husband dies, and she writes it all down.
It’s about this guy’s dog.
So…. how many of them would you have successfully found and sold from the bookstore shelf? The correct names are not given here, but you can leave a comment with your title choices. (And if you make a perfect score, please call us. We’re looking for some help this Fall.)