Use The Web to Find Books With Titles You Can’t Seem to Remember

So you can re-discover books that have slipped your mind

A birds-eye-view picture of a woman sitting at her white desk, a computer and books in front of her as she scratches her head, thinking.
Photo by Vlada Karpovich

As a reader, I’ve read hundreds of books, some great and amazing, some…well, some not so great and amazing. But I’m still human. I don’t have photographic memory, and I don’t keep track of every single book I read, at least, not the physical ones(Goodreads keeps track of my Kindle novels).

This leads to me sometimes remembering a book I’ve read, knowing the broad plot and even some strangely specific details, but not remembering anything that would allow me to swing by the library and pick it up. No title, no author, barely an image of the cover — how would I ever go about discovering this missing book?

Here is a quick, brief guide on how to use the internet and the Google algorithm to get your own mystery book into your hands, ready to read/re-read.

Screenshot From Author’s Computer

Step 1: Go Onto Google Books

Search up ‘google books’ on your browser — it doesn’t have to be Chrome, it could be Safari or Firefox, whatever you use.

If you want a direct URL, you can type in books.google.com, or click on this link.

Screenshot From Author’s Computer

Step 2: Brain Dump

This is arguably the funnest part. Whatever little scraps of information you have about the book you half-remember, dump it into the search bar. It doesn’t have to be cohesive sentences — it doesn’t even have to make sense! Even if it’s just a weird phrase or name you think you remember, throw it in.

For example, for the book Harry Potter, I might write ‘magic wizard wand school stone scar orphan uncle and aunt dursley’.

Screenshot From Author’s Computer

Step 3: Browse For Your Book

After your search query is all filled in, press ‘Enter’, and your results will start popping up. To keep going with Step 2’s example, once I type my jumbled mess in, Harry Potter books start showing up, and I can start devouring this great fantasy series.

Keep browsing and clicking ‘Next Page’, and keep a watch out for something that looks familiar or gives you an ‘aha’ moment. That’s probably your book, and if you click on it and read the description, and it matches with what you have in mind, you’ve found your mystery novel.

You should know that the more popular and well-known the book/series is, the higher it’ll show up in the search results. In the above example, Harry Potter, as well known as the stories are, will start getting relevant books immediately. If you’re trying to pinpoint an unpopular book with a grand total of two purchases, you might find your book on Page 78 of the search results.

Screenshot From Author’s Computer

Step 4: Refine Query(optional)

If, after a lot of page-searching, you’re unsuccessful in finding your book, you should refine your search query, or ‘brain dump’. Try brainstorming different words, even if they’re not too specific, and try again.

Hopefully, after a few rounds of this and a lot of searching, you’ll find your mystery book — with the help of our nifty tool Google Books.

It can get really frustrating when you just can’t remember the title and author of a book you know you’ve read or seen before, and it seems impossible to find it again. You might obsess over it for days, more random details plaguing you as you try to recreate the cover or brainstorm possible titles it might be called.

The web solves a lot of problems, and while it doesn’t seem very connected to books — Google Books is. Using it’s handy algorithm and your own memory, you should be able to stumble upon the book you’ve search for for so long.

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Writing. Technology. Entertainment. And that feeling of jumping from hobby to hobby aimlessly.

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The Electronic Pen

The Electronic Pen

Writing. Technology. Entertainment. And that feeling of jumping from hobby to hobby aimlessly.

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