or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Readalikes for Old Bags.

   June 2nd, 2016

Recently one of our patrons submitted a purchase suggestion for a book she saw reviewed in the Boston Globe: Old Bags Taking a Stand, by Faith Baum and Lori Petchers

The patron had also clipped and stapled a little part of the Globe's review, which made it sound interesting enough to investigate further. In cases like this, my first stop is Amazon to see if anyone else has reviewed it.

Now, one of the little games I play when searching - for anything - is to try to type in as few keywords as possible to get the result I want. Known item searches are of course the easiest, and in this case, I just typed "old bags taking" into Amazon's book search - and laughed out loud at the result:


Yes, the correct book was listed first, but the second result was what struck me. Little Women? Really, that's the exact opposite of "old bag" in this sense. Amazon, what in your search algorithm matched these two books?

I've showed a couple coworkers this and their search results varied slightly, but Little Women was always on the list. It seems weird, but maybe this is one of those reader preferences computers can identify that people wouldn't - maybe Little Women fans really are the target audience for Old Bags. Hmm.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to “Readalikes for Old Bags.”

  1. a Says:

    It’s from a line in the book.

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    @a: do you mean that “old bags taking a stand” is a quote from Little Women? I’ve never read it, but that would make sense. I thought the title was a play on “Old Jews Telling Jokes.”

  3. shelver Says:

    All the words appear in a single sentence from an excerpt of that version of Little Women. Page 419″…peppermints out of a paper bag, and an old gentleman taking his…” It seems to be an excerpt of a page that was selected as a sample for their Look Inside! feature.

  4. Brian Herzog Says:

    @shelver: thanks for looking that deeply into it. It seems like those words are common enough to appear in many book excerpts, so I still think it’s interesting it happened to be this title. Ha.

  5. The Librarian With No Name Says:

    I feel your pain. I just got halfway through writing up a readalike list for The Angry Birds Movie before I realized they weren’t talking about The Suffragette.