Decatur library unveils “mystery date” books

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Maddie De Pree

Judging a book by its cover? Not anymore, thanks to the library’s latest scheme: blind dates. Upon entering, you’ll see about 20 “mystery books” wrapped in brown paper, with the novel’s first line scrawled on the front.

“We’re calling that the pickup line,” librarian Sandi Dennis said. “Sometimes you don’t even get past the cover to see the first line, so we took that whole element away.”

Librarian Sandi Dennis poses with senior intern Declan Clark. Dennis designed the Mystery Date poster online at canvas.com, a free graphic design site.
Librarian Sandi Dennis poses with senior intern Declan Clark. Dennis designed the Mystery Date poster herself at canva.com, a free graphic design site.

The books are wrapped shut, so the only way to read further is to check one out and unwrap it. The mystery books made their debut at an evening event last night, and were a huge hit among guests, according to Dennis.

“We even had adults looking at them last night,” she said. “We had a reception in here and they were like, ‘I’ve already seen three or four that I want to read now.’”

Senior interns Chloe Sittig and Laurie Ray spent about two weeks scouring shelves and wrapping books. Ray borrowed the idea from Malaprops, “the best bookstore in Asheville,” and added her own twist. While Malaprops labels their mystery books by genre, Ray wanted to emphasize the first line.

Senior Laurie Ray initially suggested the library's newest display. One of her favorite mystery book first lines is, "The most dangerous thing I ever did was tell a grown man my real name, I typed it for him."
Senior Laurie Ray initially suggested the mystery books. One of her favorite first lines is, “The most dangerous thing I ever did was tell a grown man my real name, I typed it for him.”

“I think a lot of people, when they write books, don’t think about the first line,” she said. “Some people really put a lot of thought into their first line, and you can tell.”

Above all, Ray thinks the mystery books are “a great way to branch out.” Dennis agrees, and promises students that their paperback soulmate is out there.

“If you don’t find anything you like, we’ll play matchmaker for you,” she said.