How to Find That Book You've Spent Years Looking For

Between libraries, the web, and rare book stores, near-forgotten books are easier than ever to find.

| November-December 2003

  • Photo by Fotolia/Pink Badger

Searching for a book you remember reading as a child, college student, or happy dropout, but haven't seen anywhere since? On the Web, there are now numerous ways to expand your hunt beyond Amazon. Abebooks is a consortium that connects you to thousands of used-book stores around the world. Another search site is the Berkeley-based You can also search a growing number of individual stores online, including the Portland-based Powells and Bolerium Books in San Francisco, which specializes in rare books on labor issues and radical history.

Utne Reader Bookshelf

Meanwhile, your local library can be a great help, too, thanks to a practice called interlibrary loan. Libraries across the country will lend you books and other materials, creating a vast collection that's easy for you to access. Here's how: If you don't find what you're looking for in your library's catalog, ask a librarian to locate it elsewhere in the huge national loan network. Tell the pros as much about the book as you can. Title and author are most important, but publisher and publication date (or even a good guess at it) can be helpful too. They'll do the rest.

11/19/2018 6:36:07 AM

I read a short story in college as part of Southern gothic literature course. Story is from perspective of adolescent black boy who lives with his grandmother in Jim Crow south. His aunt? or sister returns from college or world travel. She’s a snob that looks down on her poor black relations but insists on raiding her grandmothers possesiins for authentic African items (such as quilts). I thought it was Flannery O’connor But haven’t been able to find the story.

11/19/2018 6:11:16 AM

I read a southern gothic short story in college that has always stuck in my mind (except for the title). Plot points: told from perspective of poor black adolescent who watches as his snobby, educated aunt/or sister returns home to snatch up all her grandmother’s authentic African/slave-era possessions (especially a quilt). The girl has nothing but disdain for her uneducated poor family and neighbors. She wants the items to decorate her city dwelling and to impress her intellectual circle. Was this Flannery O’Connor, because I haven’t been able to find it?

11/18/2018 9:46:25 AM

once I heard read on the radio a story whose narrator was a dog, which described how much he loved his human mistress. he says there a re two kinds of things in the world: smells, which one appreciates, and bones, which one wants to possess. When a dog gets hydrophobia he becomes convinced that there are only bones. The dog becomes jealous when his mistress acquires a male admirer. I thought the author was Alberto Moravia and the story (translated) was called the smells and the bones, but since I can’t find it, I may have the author and title wrong.