I’m Looking for a Book…..

“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.)



Filed under Big Stone Gap, book reviews, folklore and ethnography, humor, small town USA, Uncategorized, VA

13 responses to “I’m Looking for a Book…..

  1. Hmmm–life boat–Could be Life of Pi by Martel. Alternatively, could be a bad memory of Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea.

    Zombies? Or maybe they are thinking of Abhraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter instead.

    Dad giving away land–eithr East of Eden (Steinbeck) or King Lear.

    Rape victim blamed? Lots of choices. I prefer Speak, but maybe not.

    Husband dies and she writes it down: Widow’s Story by Joyce Carol Oats

    About the guy’s dog? Again, lots of choices, I’d offer Call of the WIld or WHite Fang, both by Jack London–pretty old fashioned of me!

    Hi yoy guys–xxxJane Yolen

  2. Preface: Mine are so wrong
    1. The Life of Pi or Kon Tiki
    2. Sarah Palin’s Autobiography or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
    3. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
    4. The Color Purple
    5. Jane Eyre
    6. Ol’ Yeller or Marley and Me

  3. that was nice to know about.

  4. Kylee Kilbourne

    Life of Pi
    Either The Zombie Survival Guide, World War Z, or any of the Pride and Predjudice and Zombies books. Of course, there are The Walking Dead graphic novels everyone’s into these days.
    Speak is probably the rape one.
    Marley and Me for the dog one.

    Well…I didn’t get them all, but I would be extremely interested in a job this fall. Haha. I could even start working now if need be. I couldn’t imagine a job better than working with books and kittens all day. 😀

  5. Janice Brooks-Headrick

    Yes. My favorite triumph was “a blue book, kinda shaded, written by a dead girl.” Lovely in her bones.
    Then there was the high school student, looking for a Grisham book asigned as reading. Being very busy, I pointed out the Murder Mystery section, told him they were filed alphabetically by author. He couldn’t find the shelvesssss (plural) of John Grisham. He said, “There isn’t anybody named John on the shelves.” I wondered if he had EVER been in a library.

  6. --Mario

    The “Sarah Palin’s Autobiography” reply had me spraying tea onto the monitor, thank you, Eire80.

    I enjoyed reading about your woes, Wendy; you will not be surprised to learn they are shared by public libraries. BTW, have you ever encountered an online comic strip called Unshelved? Definite resonances occasionally between the (public) library world and the book-selling world …

  7. i love your blog, don’t find many that are so clear, it is nice to see that someone really understands.

  8. very good article! thanks!

  9. If you write more posts like this, I will be definitely following them!

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