Here's a picture of my fiction bookshelf. Every book has its place, and no part of the sequence can be duplicated. The fifth novel from the left is missing as I'm half way through reading it.

What am I reading?

enter image description here Hint

Don't worry too much about the knowledge tag. You don't need any external knowledge at all to work out the ordering of the books, and once you have that a little research will allow you to work out which book fills the gap.

  • $\begingroup$ Might this be an enigmatic-puzzle, perhaps? $\endgroup$
    – Mr Pie
    May 4, 2019 at 16:18
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If I understand the meaning of the tag correctly, no. I think the rules and the existing tags cover it pretty well. $\endgroup$ May 4, 2019 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ Ok. I was just curious. Looks like an interesting puzzle... $\endgroup$
    – Mr Pie
    May 4, 2019 at 16:27
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    $\begingroup$ @MrPie I agree with MichaelMaggs. The enigmatic puzzle tag is usually used when we don't even know what the puzzle is. Also, thanks for the clever new twist on the old sequence puzzles, MichaelMaggs! It's nice to see a new user putting some legitimate effort into crafting a unique puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – Brandon_J
    May 4, 2019 at 17:08
  • $\begingroup$ Also nice to see someone with an interesting selection of books. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    May 4, 2019 at 22:11

1 Answer 1


I think

the books by each author are arranged in order of the number of letters in their titles, which go up by 1 each time. (There is an implicit "The" on the second Agatha Christie.)


we are looking either for an O'Brian one with 17 letters, or a Dickens with 8. I don't think there are any of the latter. How about The Letter of Marque?


the authors' names are also increasing in length one letter at a time.

  • $\begingroup$ Perfectly correct! You could add for completeness how the author names are arranged. Important as it ensures no missing author between O'Brian and Dickens. $\endgroup$ May 11, 2019 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ Oh, sorry, that's a good point. Will do. [EDITED to add:] Done now. Thanks. $\endgroup$
    – Gareth McCaughan
    May 11, 2019 at 17:20

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