Missing Threads, Found Books

Josie Leavitt -- June 24th, 2014

We all have them, those loose ends of our lives that occasionally make us crazy, like trying to find an old roommate from college or trying to recall the name of the book that delighted us a child. While I can’t really help find someone’s old college buddy, part of my job is trying to decipher just what the book threads might be.

On Sunday a lovely woman and her daughter came to the store. The daughter, eight, sought spooky books, and lots of them. Laura, our in-house spook-meister, was on it, finding the girl lots to choose from. While the daughter might have been utterly thrilled, her mother was vaguely dissatisfied even after we’d found her a novel about biblical women (not my strong suit).

I was ringing them up: big stack of a spooky books for the daughter, superhero books for the younger brother home sick and The Red Tent for Mom, and the woman still looked unhappy. Finally, as they were leaving she came back to the counter and said, “You probably can’t help with this, but there’s a book from my childhood that I loved, and would be great to find. I have no real information about it.” My heart sank a little. Beloved books from childhood that are remembered more by the feeling of them than the title are often extremely hard to find. It’s interesting because there is lots of sensory information available about these books: where it was read, the mood the reader was in, how it made the reader feel, the one really scary drawing in the book, etc. Sadly, what’s usually missing is the title, author or any real descriptors for the book.

The mom said all she remembered (she said this while touching her hand to her heart) was it was a a spooky book (the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in this family) about a boy and a ghost. I thought about it for a second and then blurted out, “John Bellairs. The House with the Clock in Its Walls.” I’m not even sure why I said it. I think I felt it more than recalled it.

“Oh my God! That’s it!” I handed her the book and she practically hugged me. Her daughter was totally interested in the new spooky book. They decided to make the book their next read aloud. My co-worker looked at me and asked, “How did you know that was the book?” I couldn’t really answer except that I suspect John Bellairs himself had a hand in helping remember the book, because everything about it was just a bit surreal and totally thrilling.

Readers: have you ever had a missing thread book that you were able to finally get or remember?