Tuesday, July 4, 2017

How to Find a Book Without Knowing the Title or Author

By Saikat Basu  

Sometimes you might remember a book you read by its jacket, and sometimes by the actions of an obscure character. However, rather frustratingly, you often cannot remember the author or the title.
I am sure you are thinking back to the moments when you wracked your brain trying to remember that book or cite a quote you had loved. Book amnesia has thwarted us all at some time or another.
If you are a book lover of any kind, expect to see (or ask) a question of this type one day:
“Do you remember a mystery book that had something about a puppet master as a murderer?”
As a book lover, it’s your duty to jump in and save someone from his or her failing memory.
Tracking down that long-lost book is like embarking a treasure hunt. In the old days, you could have asked the friendly seer called “the librarian”. Whereas, in this, the digital age, the internet is the informational entity that has even your local librarian beat.
Here are some tips to help you find a book without knowing its title or author. And, unlike the librarian, the internet is always ready to help.

Let’s Start with an Everyday Search Engine

When you can’t (or even if you can) remember the name of book, author, or the characters in it, the search engine should be your first port of call. What is true for any generic search is true when trying to find a book without knowing the name and the author too… it’s all about the keywords.
Use Google Search to find your book.
In case of a forgotten title or author, you have to remember anything you can use from the book. It could be the name of a character, a line of dialog, or even basic plot points. The more specific the phrase, the better the result. All rules of a normal search apply (for instance, for exact searches put it in quotes).
Tip: The search for a long-lost book is a good way to master advanced Google Search skills. For example, you can include or exclude specific keywords, search with an exact phrase, or use the wildcard operator to guess the name of a character.11 Advanced Searches To Bookmark To Become A Google Power User 11 Advanced Searches To Bookmark To Become A Google Power UserTurn yourself into a true Google power user with these 11 advanced searches and pro tips. This will make sure you never have to recall these searches and yet will always have them at your fingertips.READ MORE

Now Try Google Book Search

As an avid reader, you should have heard about the massive Google Books Library Project. It is the largest book cataloging project of its kind. Google Book Search works just like Google Search.Search Any Book With Google – It's Finally Legal! Search Any Book With Google – It's Finally Legal!READ MORE
The difference is that the reference page displayed for your search result also contains extra information like various covers, table of content, common terms and phrases, and popular passages from the book. You can view sample pages and check if this is the book you were searching for. Also, you can search within a book.
Use the Advanced Google Search Page with filters like subject, publisher, language, publication date, ISBN and ISSN numbers (you aren’t going to remember these two!).
Advanced Book Search
Experiment with keywords and wildcard operators to grab a clue. Even if you do not find the book, you might come across a reference which could then lead you to the answer.

Other Catalogs You Can Use for Your Book Search

There are some search engines which are more specialized.


BookFinder is an advanced search engine (Click on Show more options) which taps into the inventories of over 100,000 booksellers worldwide. Try a keyword search or, if you can recall it, restrict your query by the publication year.


WorldCat is the world’s largest network of library content and services. You can search the worldwide database of 72,000 libraries in 170 countries. Search for a book and then locate it at a nearby library. Membership of the library allows you to check out the item online. Try the Advanced Search with unique filters like Audience and Languages.
Peek into WorldCat Genres (or Fictional Finder) which helps you browse through fiction genres for hundreds of titles, authors, subjects, characters, locations, and more, ranked by popularity in the world’s libraries.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress (LOC) is the world’s largest library and today it also hosts a huge digital collection. An online book search through its catalog of 17 million records on books, serials, manuscripts, maps, music, recordings, images, and electronic resources shouldn’t take too long. And to top it all, the LOC has a friendly Ask A Librarian form for queries.
Library of Congress
Also, check out the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) search tool which is another Library of Congress utility.

Wade Through an Amazon Search

Amazon started life as an online book store. It remains the leading category by sales with millions of titles in stock at any one time. If Amazon doesn’t sell the book you are looking for, then it’s probably no longer available (or a figment of your imagination!) The basic search bar can get you close to the book with a keyword. But the real spadework can be done by Amazon’s Advanced Book Search.
Amazon Advanced Search
Amazon does not have an official list of advanced search operators. But it does display a few search tips on the above page. The API documentation also lists a few power searches you can try out for your book. Go through the documentation by clicking on Next. For instance, experimenting with the [title-begins] keyword could return close hits.
The trick is to cut through the clutter of Amazon search results. Try this neat Amazon advanced search tool made by Ceyhun Kazel. The developer made Jeviz.com to ease his own book search.How to Use Advanced Search for Amazon to Find What You Want How to Use Advanced Search for Amazon to Find What You WantSometimes, a simple search isn't enough to find the product you are looking for. Here are the best tips to do an advanced search on Amazon.READ MORE
And if all fails, then do a site search with Google. You might just get lucky.
E.g. “Rachel Childs”+journalist site:amazon.com

Search Inside the Book

Amazon not only matches your keywords to titles and authors, but also on every word inside a book. You can discover if this is the exact book you are looking for by clicking the Look Inside link and going through the preview pages. Use the Search Inside This Book field to look for sentences, key phrases, and even citations.

Ask for Help from an Online Community

Any website which helps you discover or buy your next book will have an online community behind it. Tap into the collective memory of book lovers on these recommended book platforms.The Ultimate 50 Ways to Find New Books to Read The Ultimate 50 Ways to Find New Books to ReadThere are some books which we don't want to put down. Thanks to the many tools available today, your next reading adventure can begin instantly. Find what you should read next with this guide.READ MORE


Goodreads is an Amazon subsidiary. As such, you can expect the knowledge base to be just as vast. This social network for book nerds has discussion boards on a variety of topics.
You can go to any genre-specific group and ask for help. But it might be worth trying these two first:

Barnes and Noble Lost Books

Barnes and Noble is a well-known bookseller. This group was created with the express purpose of helping readers hunt down their favorite books. It isn’t as busy like Goodreads but could be worth a visit.

Abe Books — BookSleuth

The appropriately named BookSleuth is another good hunting ground for forgotten titles. Use the community forum that is organized by genre, and provide as many details as you can for the members to help you out.
Abe Books -- BookSleuth

LibraryThing – Name That Book

LibraryThing is like a less hip, more cerebral alternative to Goodreads. Start a new topic for your specific search in this community group and enter all of the book details you can remember.Can Reading Be A Social Experience? Can Reading Be A Social Experience?Reading has a reputation for being an isolated activity. We often think of people in their pajamas or bathrobe, sunk into a massive armchair in front of a roaring fire, with a mug of hot...READ MORE

Last But Not Least: Social Networks

By now, you should have got either the book or your memory back. If not, your search has probably reached a frustrating hurdle because the book-loving masses haven’t been able to rescue you yet. It’s time to broaden your scope with an SOS on your social network of choice.


The social network isn’t only for finding long lost friends. You can also call upon the wisdom of the crowd to help you find that elusive book. Your own social circle might be too limited, so broaden your search using book clubs.
Mark Zuckerberg started A Year of Books, and now it has close to 800,000 followers. Even smaller public groups like Books are worth a try. You just have to shout above the noise.


Start with a Twitter search. Hashtags are what makes micro-blogging work, but a generic #books or #bibliophile hashtag might be too broad. Try to plug the specific genre into a hashtag search (e.g. #DarkFantasy or #UrbanFantasy) to narrow your results, and/or when you ask for help.Twitter Search: 4 Ways To Find Results That Matter To You Twitter Search: 4 Ways To Find Results That Matter To YouTwitter search has its limits. For one, you can only search back so far, with Twitter making public search results available only for a limited period of time. That said, there are a few tips...READ MORE


The Q&A site could be the largest gathering of “experts” outside Facebook and Twitter. The best thing about Quora is that you can expect a quality response. Take the answer below for example:

Stack Exchange

A potpourri of 168 Q&A communities makes up Stack Exchange. Stack Overflow might be the most popular with programmers but there are niche communities for Ebooks and Literature. Then, you can also go into a genre specific community and drop a question. Sci-Fi and Fantasy is popular.


You couldn’t have thought of a better name for a subreddit on books than Tip of My Tongue. Just scan your eyes down the solved answers with the green tag to understand the power of collective memory. Also, try other subreddits like What’s That BookBooks, and printSF when you can only remember the cover.

It’s Time to Find That Long-Lost Book!

The web relies on the kindness of strangers. The good thing is that book lovers are everywhere and the fraternity is amazingly co-operative. We can always find them closeted together in some group or community.
So, the next time you have a memory blackout try to recall any vague detail of the book.
Go back in time to remember any physical feature or illustration. Try to bring up some associated memories – what were you doing when you were reading that book? How old were you? Was it a gift or did you borrow it?
Believe me, every tiny shred of information helps. But the best tip I can offer to every book lover is this – make a reading list and keep it organized.How to Organize Your Out-of-Control Reading List Right Now How to Organize Your Out-of-Control Reading List Right NowA reading list serves a lot of functions -- from practical to inspirational. But it can also get out of hand. Using these tips to manage your reading hobby can do wonders for your life.READ MORE
Are you still looking for a long-lost book? Did this article help your search in any way? When you’re searching for a book from your childhood who do you ask first – your librarian or the collective power of the internet? Please let us know in the comments below!
Source: www.makeuseof.com

1 comment:

Blogger said...

Ever wanted to get free Twitter Followers?
Did you know that you can get these ON AUTO-PILOT & TOTALLY FOR FREE by using Like 4 Like?

How to Scan Documents Into Your Mac Using an iPhone

By Mahit Huilgol Continuity binds macOS and iOS, and with macOS Mojave it’s become even more useful. Now, Continuity Camera lets you us...