How to Find Books by Description

If you recently heard a friend describing a great book she was reading, you might want to find that book and buy it for yourself. Or maybe you remember reading a book as a child, but can’t remember the title. If you don’t know a book’s author or title, tracking it down might prove difficult. You can use certain strategies to narrow your search, however.

Step 1

Search for the book using keywords or memorable phrases. If you can remember a famous quote from the book, enter it in Google’s digital books database at You might find the book you’re looking for among the search results.

Step 2

Browse books in the genre that matches the basic description you remember of the book. Browse by genre at a large online bookstore that carries a wide variety of titles. You may stumble upon the book quickly, or you might see similar or related titles that will jog your memory and help you remember the title of the book you seek.

Step 3

Call or visit a bookstore with a large inventory and an informed staff, such as the Strand in New York City or Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore. Go to the staff member responsible for the section or genre the book you are looking for may fall under and give her a summary description of the book. She may recognize the description and be able to identify the book’s title or author.


Ask friends if they recognize the book's plot or description.