November 22, 2008

What Was That Book?

Posted by at 2:43 pm in Reads | Permalink

A few weeks ago I was in Memphis, enjoying some amazing barbecue, when the conversation turned to books. A friend was frustrated because she couldn't remember the name of a scary book she'd loved in middle school, so she outlined the plot for us and we racked our brains trying to guess the title. It took a lot of conversation and a lot of guessing before another friend snapped her fingers and said, "I think I got it!" And she did — the book was Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story by Mary Downing Hahn.

The discussion got me thinking about books I had loved but had long since forgotten. There was one series my sister and I had read over and over again, and even though I remembered some of the character names and had a general sense of the plotline, the name and author were escaping me. It started to drive me crazy!

Over the next few weeks, I went from crazy to downright desperate. I googled the character names, hoping the title would magically appear in my search results. I googled some quotes I had managed to memorize from reading them so much, but no luck. I asked my sister, my mom, anyone who might remember. But I was getting nowhere.

Until one day I explained my frustration to another writer friend of mine, who presented the perfect solution: the "What Was That Book" community on And what do you know? I posted my question, including all the meager details I could remember, and within 24 hours some awesome, brilliant stranger responded to me with the title of the series. (If you're interested, it was Who Killed Peggy Sue, a four-part series for teens by Eileen Goudge, which I highly recommend for YA readers!)

Since then, I've been hooked on sites like What Was That Book and The Dairi Burger, which also has its own "lost and found" thread where readers beg and plead for the names of books they can't remember. Knowing the answer to a stranger's book question feels like winning a game, and ever since my experience trying to track down the Peggy Sue books, I try to pay it forward and solve other people's burning book mysteries.

What about you? Are there any books you've been struggling to remember? Post them here and maybe someone can help you out!

— Morgan, Scholastic Staffer

Comments are closed.