This is how a collection starts


Creepy, no? And, as you’ll find after you finish the book, wholly inaccurate. The barn was stucco and there was nary a swastika to be seen. The super-duper unique title sure made this book easier to find after twenty years.

Have you ever Googled something and just come up empty? You either get three results (three out of the whoooooole internet) or fifty of those weird-ass pages that are just meta tags (you know, the ones that are just giant alphabetical lists of both real and nonsense words and you’re afraid to visit them because you just know they’re some kind of cut-and-paste repository for spammers). Do you, like me, get a little creeped out when you can’t find something on Google? I feel like I just CTRL+F-ed planet Earth as a whole and got a 404 error. Like, did I just invent this thing? Is it not real? Am I going crazy? Is this a bad dream? Can I wake up now?

I had had this problem for a year now. Every once in a while I would pull up Google and growl menacingly at it and type in a bizarre bunch of keywords: YA, Nazi, insulin, horror. Or: diabetes, cat, German, attack dog, book, ghost. I’m sure I’ve gotten myself into another file somewhere (probably the same one they put my name in when I was 15 and I ordered a copy of the Koran from Quality Paperback Book Club), but what really concerned me was Google’s lack of helpful responses. I was looking for a book I vividly remembered reading in middle school. Unfortunately, my vivid memory was limited to the actual interior of the book and I could not recall the title or author name.

A few weeks ago I finally chanced upon the correct combination of words (damned if I can remember what they were, though) and got a hit: someone on Goodreads had posted a review of Haunted by Judith St. George. I recognized the bizarre cover and squealed. I immediately ordered a copy because the library didn’t have it. It arrived last night and I started reading it after dinner (ignoring a stack of library books and a half-edited manuscript) and I just finished it this morning with my second cup of coffee.

Not as tense and horrifying as I remember, but not as puerile and silly as I feared. Actually, it wasn’t half bad. I’m pleased to add it to my collection of library rejects and book club editions of books I loved as a kid, alongside The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and The Etruscan Smile and other books I borrowed from the book closet when I was a kid and have never returned. (And have no intention of returning. Sorry, Mom. It’s like you and Strange Murders at Greystones.)

In fact, it looked so good there that I’ve decided I need to rearrange the bookshelves (agaaaaaain) and put all those library-bound books together. After that thought came another, slightly more dangerous thought: “Hey, I should get an old book-club copy of The Secret Garden. That’s another one I loved when I was a kid. Hell, it’s probably responsible for my obsession with gardening.” Off to eBay I went, where I purchased just that. I expect the mania to escalate, but at least it’s going to be cheap. These are not in high demand and no one’s asking high prices for them. (Even the Star Wars novelization I stole from the book closet isn’t worth more than $5). Besides, I’m not going to buy a book I wouldn’t re-read (I don’t keep any books I wouldn’t re-read — I’m not trying to impress anyone with these bookshelves), so we won’t be needing new shelves any time soon.

The point of this post wasn’t supposed to be my new collection, though. Actually, I just wanted everyone to know that if you, too, remember reading a book about a kid who house-sits a mansion where a murder/suicide took place and that there was something about Nazis and something about a white cat and something about insulin and something about an attack dog (or something), you are not hallucinating. You are thinking of Haunted by Judith St. George. You’re welcome.

— Amanda


One thought on “This is how a collection starts

  1. Pingback: Book review: Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan | SterlingFink

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