The following is the complete text of an email someone sent me today:

I give you permission to publish this anonymously. Do you do that?


It seems that I have stolen many books. Let me elaborate on these and the occasions on which I thieved.

Although packs of baseball cards such as I used to steal from gas stations as a young boy are not books per se, this is how my thieving began. Perhaps. Or perhaps my thieving began further in my past than my memory now reaches.

I stole from a university library Omensetter’s Luck by William Gass–an earnest accident that I did not seek to right after I noticed I had escaped with it and that the magnetic gate had not reacted with its electronic screeching to alert the responsibles.

From the same erudite friend I stole The Captive Mind by Milosz, and also Le Parti pris by Francis Ponge. Perhaps Grass’s The Tin Drum too.

From an institute in France I stole an edition of selections from Apollinaire’s Alcools, as well as a Surrealist anthology. And both of André Breton’s Surrealist manifestos. From my host family I stole a book of Blaise Cendrars’s poetry.

Accidentally from a bookstore I stole Washington Square by Henry James. Honest.

From a library I stole Nicholas Mosley’s Serpent, as well as a book called The Art of Not Working, or some such title.

I have probably stolen ten or so other books. Titles escape me. That’s not too bad, I suppose.

Oh yes, I also stole that book Marilyn Manson wrote in the 1990s, and I gave it as a gift to a romantic interest. How unromantic this seems now.

I think I stole many books as an adolescent. Some of these I placed in my pants, held against my abdomen by the pressure of my pants waistline or belt. I think I stole numerous books related to sex when I was young.

I don’t think I’ve hardly ever borrowed a book and not returned it.


I give you permission to publish this anonymously. Do you do that?


You know, I don’t normally do that (i.e. this), but I guess I could start.

If anyone else feels like anonymously confessing to book theft, email me.



9 thoughts on “Confession”

  1. ★★★★★ + ✌ for borrowing being borrowing and stealing being stealing. Instead of the devil making you do it, maybe a Goddess has a crush on you and makes you do crazy things.


  2. I started small with movie tie-ins. I have fond memories half-inching Back to the Future and Beyond Thunderdome. Oh and I’ll never forget a whole Saturday in bed reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. All courtesy our local corner shop across the road from school. It was the ’80s and erudition at that time exceeded my faltering porn mag filled grasp.
    Oh the shame, if only it was Barth, Barthelme or Burroughs.


    1. Oh wow—the Beyond the Thunderdome movie tie-in ppbk was a major reference point for me—maybe in ’87 or ’88. I did, however, return it to the youth club communal lending library of Tabubil, PNG.


  3. I stole an Animorph book in first grade.

    I stole The Lord of The Flies in seventh grade.

    Then I stole a bunch of books in highschool. The teacher would hand them out and I would never give them back. When the teacher came around to collect the books I’d explain how I forgot mine and I will bring it in later, I promise. I acquired The Odyssey, The Taming of the Shrew, The Cather in the Rye, 1984, Introduction to Spanish, In Cold Blood, Naked Economics, Heart of Darkness, The Plague, and maybe more. If the teacher ever asked me for the book a second time I would return it. In these cases they did not.

    Since highschool I have stolen only one book. I encountered a fellow who talked as though he was enthusiastic about literature. He said he had a library. I gave him Blood Meridian as a gift. After getting to know him better it became obvious that he was showboating. By “library” he meant “some Dan Brown books.” One time I was at his house. One time at his house I stole Blood Meridian back. I don’t think he noticed.


  4. The only books I’ve stolen are online pdfs of books are out of print or impossible to get. Like “The Incredible Tide” (which I still haven’t read).

    I stole “The Long Ships” from my parents when I moved out of home. Is that stealing?


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