So far in 2020, my greatest accomplishment has been kicking butt at book-finding. I am all over the Goodreads & Reddit communities for people seeking lost book titles, and I've identified at least 10 so far. Sometimes I'm pretty sure it was a popular book and I just happened to get there in the first hour, but other times I think it's a real coup (what up, Phantom Valley's The Dark! also Like Mother, Like Daughter, which I know is right even though the post is over 3 years old and OP hasn't confirmed).
[edit: god this post is so messy. i need an editor to pare it down. sure, I am an editor, but what is your point]
However, there have also been a few that I'm BIG MAD I can't Google out into the light, despite them being horse books and/or juvenile lit from the 80s and 90s, a.k.a. my ostensible areas of expertise that most people are not as well versed in, and the obvious and rational response here is not to simply shrug and say "oh well, can't find 'em all," but instead to decide I just need a bigger knowledge base. The thousands already in my head clearly aren't cutting it!
And that's when I remembered a book I saw at the antiquarian bookstore last month -- it was some kind of 20th century compendium of juvenile literature, loaded to the brim with book titles and short summaries. I made myself put it back because GOD do I not need an excuse to quadruple my TBR.
But the thing I remember about it was that it was published in either the late 90s or early 2000s, which means it was free of the clutter that I already know about it and more likely to contain things I've forgotten or that were unpopular and weeded from the library before I got to them. I can't get back there until this weekend at the earliest, so I started Googling to figure out what it was called, and that turned into
a) me scraping through search results for other similar books
b) me remembering the Horn Book Magazine exists
c) me longingly trying to figure out a way to read the archives, either online or via a library system, and then just wishing I had the money and space to buy and store the entire collection from about 1940-2000, maybe 2006.
Because THE RESOURCES. My god. Do you know how many old kids' books on Goodreads have no summary, no reviews? Or some sh***y Amazon scraping "summary" that's like "order facsimilies from our prestigious reprint company!" or "no dust jacket. good condition ex-library. scuffed corners"? I have found it's A LOT. I could improve so many of these poor old unloved records.
But then, of course, once I had the resources...I would start reading the summaries and I would want to read All the Books for myself. Which I obviously do not have time to do. Paperback Crush just showed me at least 3 dozen novels that I have some measure of interest in, and that's not counting the number of series I wish I could read or revisit, whose combined totals add up well into the hundreds (maybe thousands, even if short!) on their own, and that was already too many. AND NOW I WANT MORE??
In response, i am currently reading 0 books -- I still have 6 checked out of the library that I was super excited about, but now I'm no longer at peak excitment and feel like I should give them back until I'm back to that -- and just wasting a lot of time daydreaming. Hence the "Oh No" version of my title.
But god, it is fun.
(Even if it also makes me want to start adding childhood books to Goodreads again, which I'm still on the fence about because then it's like, my library is totally unbalanced and maybe I should have a whole separate account for my pre-high school book life? Because I could end up one of those people with 5000 books at this rate, and a totally unmanageable amount of book data that makes it hard to give people a picture of my current reading tastes, like most people's accounts reflect. But no, I should have my whole book history in one place. Shouldn't I? Ugh it is too late for this.)
EDIT: Oh no wait I forgot the whole second point I was going to make! Which is: I started investigating OpenLibrary. I've known about it for a few years and have a Goodreads friend who makes HEAVY use of it to find vintage children's/teen books, but obviously, ebooks are meaningless to me without an ereader for comfort, so I haven't paid it much mind.
BUT, where it is valuable to me is reuniting me with looks at jacket summaries -- author bios -- page counts -- and short children's books that can be read in no more than 20 minutes of screen time. And picture books. I've really been having a blast looking at old picture books, which are much less hassle to check out here than to waste librarians' time and energy to ship to me in person.
And they've really been expanding their library fast, so for as impressive as MN's Interlibrary Loan sytem is (forever bless the underfunded rural libraries and the ones big and rich enough to maintain storage spaces instead of discarding the good oldies), there is also SO MUCH work available on this site that it makes me kind of dizzy. That thing I was saying about books on Goodreads missing data? I've been able to find some good info on here.
I haven't cross-referenced my high school reading lists, but I'm betting a good number of the old books on there that I can't remember can be found on this site -- all those books that I wish I could just skim through in order to jog my memory enough to write a review, when I don't necessarily want or have the time to reread it in full...NOW I CAN. Without making 50 interlibrary loan requests (and which are limited to 10 at a time anyway, and which require a fair amount of effort and sticker-printing and transportation money to process, so I try to be polite and only request what I really need).
*sudden gasp* OPENLIBRARY HAS DOWN BAYBERRY LANE. I REPEAT, IT HAS DOWN BAYBERRY LANE. That's a whole 250+ page novel so reading it on a computer would be exhausting, but........it's one I'm sure will be 4 or 5 stars and I can't get it via ILL and it's too expensive to buy. Now I have an option.
OK y'all, I'm getting weirdly emotional about the world of older fiction that has just opened for me and it's getting late so I need to take myself to bed. I might make another (maybe less rambly?) post about this site, though.
In completely unrelated news, tonight my obsessive daily checking for new stories on Georgia Tennant's Instagram paid off spectacularly and I am still spontaneously smiling over the 30 seconds of promotion for a friend's work, guest-starring David and Still (To My Knowledge) Publically Anonymous New Baby. With a bonus always-amusing "now what do I do? how do I turn this off?" Really takes the edge of my knowledge that Deadwater Fell has begun airing but I can't legally see it yet.