Thursday, April 10, 2014

It had a blue cover...

“I am looking for a book.  I don’t remember the title or the author and I think it had a woman who lived in a big house somewhere in Europe.  I do remember that it had a blue cover.  Can you help me find a copy?”  Believe it or not, this is a common conversation in libraries and bookstores.  Readers are often searching for a well-loved tale from their childhood or some compelling novel that they read several years ago.  Titles and authors fade from memory and plot lines are often fuzzy but an astounding number of these literary treasure seekers report with absolute conviction that the cover was blue – not red, white, yellow or turquoise – BLUE!  Unfortunately, this piece of information is not always very useful as there happen to be any number of books with blue covers, both in print and long since retired.  If the reader can be coaxed into remembering an unusual plot point or character detail, for example: “She always wore purple galoshes and she was searching for a letter from an undertaker about her uncle who was buried with his pet monkey…”, the fact that the cover was blue might actually be helpful as an added piece of the identification puzzle.  However, it is more often the case that the book is found despite the remembered hue of the cover.  “It was a fairytale about a girl who was kidnapped and was pulled underground and eaten by vegetables that looked like people.  I am pretty sure that the cover was blue.”  When this description was used to unearth “The Vege-Men’s Revenge”, by Florence Upton (out of print for many years), by sheer luck, the librarian assisting the reader had personal knowledge of the story and came up with the title. The reader was thrilled to be directed to an online resource for accessing the book. Unfortunately, she was quite disappointed to discover that the cover was not blue.  “They must have changed the cover when they put this book online.  I much preferred the blue one.”
In celebration of blue reads, I offer up the following titles for your memory and future literary quests:

1 comment:

Terry said...

I always act so irritated when that's all someone can remember. And then I find myself in the same situation--able to describe the cover down to last detail and unable to remember the title. Quite humbling.