Bandersnatch and An Imperial Affliction: Imaginary Books We'd Like to Read

January 14, 2019 | Wendy

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Have you seen Bandersnatch?

The innovative Black Mirror episode included a choose-your-own-adventure book that was also called Bandersnatch. Apparently, fans across the UK have been searching their local libraries for the title

So we took a look, and it turns out that several Toronto readers have done the same.

Unfortunately, the book doesn't exist – at least not yet. But it's not the first fictional title to spark the interest of readers. Here's a rundown of some notable imaginary books:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Fictional title:

An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten.

Source:

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.

By far the most popular imaginary book we encountered, An Imperial Affliction was the book that brought The Fault In Our Stars' protagonists together in Green's wildly popular young adult novel. Readers have searched for An Imperial Affliction 240 times in the past five years. But this is complicated by the fact that Green later wrote a five-page "excerpt" of An Imperial Affliction, and published it in a paperback format (with repeating pages to make it look thicker) as a perk for a fundraising campaign. Were people searching for the imaginary book, or the real imaginary book? We can't tell.

Number of searches:

200+ over the past 5 years.

 

Love Letters of Great Men

Fictional Title:

Love Letters of Great Men.

Source:

Sex and the City, The Movie.

Sometimes, readers want a book so badly that it becomes real. Carrie Bradshaw read this fictional collection of letters in The Sex and the City movie (2008).  So many fans went looking for it that not one, but two enterprising editors put out competing collections that year.

Number of searches:

Unknown.

 

The Tales of Beedle the Bard

Fictional Title:

The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

Source:

Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling.

Similarly, The Tales of Beedle the Bard started out as a fictional children's classic in the last volume of the Harry Potter series. In 2007, however, J. K. Rowling published a limited edition of the until-then-fictitious book, raising over $3 million for charity. The book was published in wide release a year later, with proceeds again going to charity. 

Number of searches:

Unknown.

 

Venus on the Half-Shell by Philip Jose Farmer

Fictional Author:

Kilgore Trout.

Source:

Kurt Vonnegut, various titles.

Sometimes, fictional authors also become real(-ish). Kilgore Trout, the ever-failing science fiction author who appears in several of Vonnegut's books, "wrote" over 50 fictional novels (which Vonnegut summarized to comic effect). Eventually, another science fiction author, Philip Jose Farmer, wrote and published one of them – Venus on the Half-Shell – in Trout's name (and later, in his own).

Were the half-dozen readers who've searched for Kilgore Trout in the library catalogue over the past five years actually looking for Farmer? It's hard to say.

Number of searches:

6 over the past 5 years.

 

Misery by Stephen King

Fictional Author:

Paul Sheldon.

Source:

Misery by Stephen King.

Then again, some fictional titles never get written. Paul Sheldon, the long-suffering author in King's horror novel, is kidnapped and tortured by a fan who wants him to resurrect the heroine of his Victorian romance series. It's just as well that the resulting book, Misery's Return, doesn't really exist, given the circumstances of its composition. But that hasn't stopped a handful of readers from searching for Paul Sheldon's books in the library catalogue over the years.

Number of searches:

4 over the past 5 years.

 

1984 by George Orwell

Fictional Title and Author:

The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism by Emmanuel Goldstein.

Source:

1984 by George Orwell.

The Book (as it's informally known) appears, at first, to be a revolutionary critique of Big Brother's world order; this turns out to be fake news – but did the three readers who searched our catalogue for it know this?

Number of searches:

3 over the past 5 years.

 

Foundation by Isaac Asimov

Fictional Title:

The Encyclopedia Galactica.

Source:

Foundation by Isaac Asimov.

Originally invented by Isaac Asimov in his Foundation series, the Encyclopedia Galactica was later repeatedly dismissed as inferior to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

Number of searches:

1 over the past 5 years.

 

Do you have a favourite imaginary book? Have you ever looked one up, just to check? Let us know in the comments. 

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