Patron of the Week: Ms. Looking-For-A-Book-But-Can’t-Remember-The-Author-Or-The-Title

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This week’s Patron of the Week comes from the Land of High School Classics.

Please say hello to Ms. Looking-For-A-Book-But-Can’t-Remember-The-Author-Or-The-Title.

Like most patrons, she was looking for a book.

Like most patrons, she didn’t know the author.

Like some patrons, she didn’t know the title either, not even a word in the title. She only knew that it was a famous satire that was celebrating its 50th anniversary this October. So I being the intrepid librarian assistant I am, I Googled “satire book 50th anniversary October 2011” and came up with the answer: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, which after all (rolling eyes) is a difficult title to remember.


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When she brought the book up to be checked out, I commented I remembered reading the book in high school. She asked me if I read it because I had to or because I wanted to…I told her I didn’t remember but I think it was on a summer recommended reading list and I read it for pleasure.

She asked me if I liked it. I told her from what I remembered, I did, but –as with any patron– told her her mileage may vary. She said she wasn’t sure she really wanted to read it right now because the central theme of the book is about war. Then she said something almost under her breath, with a sigh before she said it, that I’ll never forget:

“It’s one of those fucking books that you’re supposed to read.”

She went on to mention another book she had read only a few months ago that was another one of those fucking books, although again, she couldn’t remember the title. She did remember the author this time: Hemingway. I offered a suggestion: The Old Man and the Sea? No, that wasn’t it, but then she did remember that it was The Sun Also Rises after which she said,


and then a pause for yet another


As she was heading toward the door, I already had pen to a piece of notebook paper so I wouldn’t lose the moment.

**Author’s Note: I might not have placed the word “fucking” in the right place. When she said it, it startled me a little so it jarred my short-term memory. The “fucking” might have been said before “supposed” or “read.” Regardless, that was the word she used, so I’m not censoring it.

8 responses to “Patron of the Week: Ms. Looking-For-A-Book-But-Can’t-Remember-The-Author-Or-The-Title

  1. stacybuckeye

    Too funny. That word, when used by strangers, is always jarring (at least the first time ;))

  2. LOL! Catch-22 is one of my all-time favourite books. I hope she ends up enjoying it despite her initial misgivings. Books You Are Supposed to Read can be daunting like that — you never know if people recommend one because it will be an enjoyable read or because reading them is something one should do, similar to eating bran or doing aerobics.

  3. LOL!! I love your patrons. I cant wait to see what kind I will get when i get my MLIS degree and start working in the library.

  4. I sympathize with people who forget author and/or title; I do it all the time. Sometimes I walk into a bookstore and think to myself, I’m looking for that book by that publisher I like with a blue spine… and end up searching the entire fiction section scanning for blue spines. Sigh!

  5. When I go to a book store, or a library for that matter, I sometimes blank out on author’s names. One time I knew James Lee Burke had a new book and I knew titles of other books he had written. The person I asked didn’t need a computer to find the new one. I was impressed.

    • Well, in this day and age, we (meaning I ;)) need a computer especially when you’re mentioning a book from 50 years ago. A lot of books were published 50 years ago. 🙂

  6. Oh ! The ‘F’ word still startles you ? What are you … like fucking ninety seven or something ?

    But I sort of relate. There are many classic books I have never read and yet, popular culture wants expects you to know their story.

    But thankfully, in today’s day an age, you can easily find a summarised plot and be able to nod heads in sync at literary gatherings.