We all have them--those books you that can never find, the ones you read as a child and then lost track of. You may remember the plot or the characters or the look of the cover, but you can never recall exactly who wrote the book or what its title is. There are whole websites out there, which are devoted to helping people find these missing books. Message boards, web forums, etc, all of them filled with clues dug from the depths of your memory, and thrown open to the world for any help that you can find.
Some people find their missing books, although it may take them years. Others never do. And some are still looking.
I have been searching for years, easily since 1998 or 1999, and have yet to find my missing book. I can tell you that it has a blue cover and that I read it in an after-school program when I was ten or eleven years old; I can even tell you what the book shelves looked like in that after-school program, as they sat underneath the window in the school classrooom. I can tell you that my father used to pick me up from there in an ancient green Volvo, and that we'd drive together with my brother, to pick up my mother from the bus stop, after her commute from New York. But I cannot tell you what the title of the book is or who wrote it.
It was about rings: green, yellow, and blue ones. There was a girl who could see the rings floating in the sky, and jump through them to parallel worlds. Each color led to a different world. One was an aquatic world, and I seem to remember that she grew gills and webbed feet when she went there. Most of the time, the rings were single ones, but sometimes she saw double or triple ones stacked together. Very few other people could see the rings, but the major plot point of the book was that other people had discovered them. And those other people were illegally stealing water from the aquatic world, and pumping it back onto Earth, where it transmuted into oil. Obviously, they were stealing it, and making a horrendous profit. And it was up to the girl to stop them. I seem to recall that she ended up teaming up with a Navajo police officer in the end, and got to ride in a helicopter, all in her efforts to stop the theft of water from the aquatic world.
Now really, you try to find a book with this description. I can't. I've googled, I've searched, I've done everything conceivably possible. And I haven't been able to find the author or the title. I can tell you, based on my age when I read it, that it couldn't have been published past 1991 or 1992. But that's about it, other than what I wrote above. Back when I started searching, my web-crawling led me to discover Rudy Rucker, and I paid a decent chunk of cash to acquire SPACETIME DONUTS; it wasn't my book, but at least it got me hooked on a new author.
I still hold out hope that one day, someone might read this blog, and know what the title of my book is. I still search for it in used bookstores, on the off-chance that it might jump out at me. Because I was meant to read that book again... and maybe some day, I will.
Your turn, people! What are your missing books?