How To Find A Book Title By Plot: 8 Creative Tips And Tricks

It’s an aggravating feeling to know the plot of a book you want to read, but not the title. However, rest assured, you can find a book title by plot. If you’ve only got a vague description of the book, you may not get as much help from a Google search as you’d like, but there are tricks out there, such as utilizing Google Books, that can help you find the book title you’re looking for. This article will give you tips and ideas that can help you find a book title by plot with just a vague description.

Finding a Book Using a Vague Description

Maybe you heard about it from a friend, and you forgot what they said the title was. All you can remember is a vague description of the plot, but your friend told you that the book was fantastic. And now it’s the middle of the night, you don’t want to bother your friend, and you are on a mission to find this book to download or order.

Or perhaps you read the book before, years ago, and remember really liking it, and you want to either re-read it or recommend it to a friend, coworker, or family member. The issue is that you can’t remember the book title. You may feel like it’s a lost cause and that unless the title suddenly and spontaneously pops into your head, you’re not going to recover the information or find the book.

It is possible, though, to find these books that we loved but forgot the titles to, or to find the book that was described to us and we forgot what we were told the title was, or maybe the person who made the recommendation can’t remember the title. It takes some work, and depending upon how vague the description is, it may take quite a bit of time, but it can be done.

Note down all the details that you do remember, so that you can use them in your book search. The details may include:

  • genre
  • descriptions of the protagonist or antagonist
  • remarkable scenes and lines
  • release year
  • anything else that you can recall, such as awards or recognitions given to the book and its author

When you have as many details as you can noted down, follow the tips below to find a book by plot, vague description or any other bits of information.

How to find a book title by plot or vague description:

1. Search Engines

First, you should try a Google search. With just a vague description, you may not find exactly what you’re looking for, but depending on how much you can remember about the book, you may strike gold on the first try. It’s worth a shot. Remembering things like the genre, the author, the book cover, or other identifying information can help you narrow down what results you get from a Google Search.

Find a book title by plot

For example, entering “horror book about vampires” into the search bar of this well-known search engine, while trying to find Interview with the Vampire, listed the book we were searching for as the fourth result.

While it may have been necessary to skim through the descriptions of the three books that show up ahead of it on the results page (The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, Dracula, and ‘Salem’s Lot), knowing a vague description of the plot of Interview with the Vampire would get the title we were searching for accurately in very little time.

A simple Google search can save you time and energy if you know the important plot points. For example, The Hunger Games is the very first result that pops up when you Google: Book about the girl who volunteers as tribute.

Entering as many details about the plot as you can remember will help to isolate the book you are looking for on Google and on other search engines like it.

Google Tips When Searching

Keep in mind that any words you put inside quotation marks in searching will yield exact results. So if you know that the book has the word “mockingbird” in it, and you enter into the search bar inside of quotation marks, only books with that word in the title will come up. Also, if you know what the book isn’t, you can use the minus sign in your search to exclude the books you aren’t looking for.

2. Google Books

A lesser-known tool that the internet offers is Google Books. Performing an advanced search in Google Books can help you to find the book you’re looking for, if you have some specific information. Knowing things like who the publisher is, who the author is, what the genre is, or keywords that might be in the title can help you to find the book you’re looking for. Sometimes you can even find the book on this search engine with just a few plot details and no other information.

This site offers a plethora of digitized books, and using things like category tags when using the search function can yield a successful search.

3. Reddit

Reddit has many subreddits, in which you can ask for a book title with nothing but a few plot details, the author’s name, the genre, a description of the book cover, or other small details. 

Book lovers exist in hordes on this popular site, and it’s common to see bookworms and book enthusiasts help each other out with things like book suggestions and recommendations, as well as book titles when you can only remember the plot or other vague information. In fact, two subreddits exist appropriately titled: Whatsthatbook and Tipofmytongue.

4. Book Search on GoodReads or Other Reading Site

Many readers keep track of their reading, set reading goals, and review the books they have read on sites and apps like GoodReads. You can also conduct a book search on this site, and others like it, simply by knowing a single word in the title, the genre, the author, or other snippets of information.

For example, if you’re looking for a children’s book, you can narrow down your search to that genre only and then continue to whittle down filters until you are able to find exactly what you’re looking for. The struggle to this will be weeding through the results, but if you’ve seen the book cover, it should be reasonably easy to know if the book you’re looking for has been found on the site.

You can also add friends and make friends on this app or site and form a GoodReads group. It can be made up of friends, family members, strangers, literally anyone who enjoys books. This is a helpful resource you can consult with when you’re looking for a specific book.

5. BookBub

Bookbub is a website that is dedicated to helping readers find and purchase books that will interest them. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for high fantasy, historical fiction, or romance. This website will comb through its data to find the book that you’re looking for. An easy-to-use site also provides purchase options when you do find the book you’ve been looking for.

Find a book title by plot

6. Google Images

Another service of Google, Google Images, can help you if you know what the book cover looks like but have very little information aside from that. If you’ve got just the genre, a few snippets of the plot, or the author’s name, but you’ve seen the book cover, searching in the Images page of Google can help you by combing through book covers and presenting you with the book you describe. This way, you can be sure to get an accurate result for that elusive book title you’ve been searching for.

For example, an image search on Google with the simple search of: Stephen King book with fish on the book cover provides the book result End of Watch immediately. This is a quick way to find the book title in search results. All you have to know is what the cover looks like.

7. Ask Your Local Librarian

If internet search results still aren’t giving you the title of the book you’re looking for, your last resort may be to ask a local librarian. Give them all the details of the plot that you can remember, along with anything you can remember about the cover if you’ve seen it.

Other information that will help a librarian find the book you’re looking for, especially if the book’s plot is vague in your memory, is the publication date. For example, if you’re looking for a Patterson book, and you know that it came out in 2016, because that was the year your child was born, or you got married, or you graduated, etc., you can give that information to a librarian, and they can help you find the title.

If you don’t know the exact genre of the book, give as much information as possible, even if that’s only that you know the book is a fiction book as opposed to nonfiction. If you can remember any character names, especially the main character, it will be easier to find the book title as well.

For example, if you tell a librarian at the local library or school library that you’re looking for a book, and you don’t know anything about it aside from the fact that there’s a character named Hercule Poirot, chances are very good that you’re going to be led to Agatha Christie’s work. If you don’t know the plot, you may not get an exact match, but you’ll be able to go through the books that the library offers to find the book you need.

8. Ask A Book Club or Student

Perhaps you have a child, and they are getting to the age where they are starting to read real novels of substance. You remember reading a book as part of required reading in school, but you can’t remember what it was called. If it’s a book in which the chances are high that your peers had to read the same book for school, including this in the book description to them may help you get the title of the long-forgotten book.

Of Mice and Men is a book that is often required reading for high school students, and it is considered a classic by many a book club. Asking someone you are still in touch with who went to school with you and had to read it, or asking a book club for the title based on plot snippets and important details, you can most likely get a quick answer.

The more well-known the book is, the easier it will be to get the title from someone who has also read it. The elusive title won’t stay elusive for long. Just be sure to give as much information as possible. Knowing what genre the book belongs in can be of immense help when asking a club.

Don’t Give Up

If you can’t recall the name of a book, don’t give up. It’s easier than you may think to find books, especially today when the internet is only ever a touch away. Answers are available online or at a library. With some diligence and determination, you can find just about any book written if you can recall even the most minor role character, vague plotline, the age level the book was intended for, and other small details.

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