Book Thief

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Last week, our school hosted the rising freshman for a morning-long orientation. Towards the end of the affair, a small group of 8th graders joined each teacher’s advisory group to hear first-hand about our school. During advisory, I noticed one of the 8th grade boys was reading Crank by Ellen Hopkins. I remember thinking, at the time, that I had that very book in my classroom library, and I was glad to see him enjoying it.

The next day, while I was re-shelving some books kids had borrowed, I noticed a large space in the middle of my Ellen Hopkins books – the exact space that used to house Crank. It didn’t take me long to put two and two together. He had been reading my book, and he had slipped away with it. If you’ve read Crank, you’ll understand why I couldn’t be that mad at him.

Hold on. Take a breath. I’m not advocating for or extending my approval of stealing in any capacity. In fact, I plan on tracking him down to ask him to return it when he’s finished; but, the idea bears consideration. Is there a book out there that, under the direst of circumstances, you’d take a deep breath, push away morality, and steal?

I’ve been thinking about that idea for the last couple of days. What book would make me ignore my moral code? Would I steal for more than one book? I finally settled on an answer, and I’ll share it shortly enough. But let’s get to my larger point. When I mentioned this story to a friend, she laughed. “Why would anyone steal a book?” she said. But I knew the reason.

Books ARE worth stealing.

Personally, I can think of no worthier candidate than a book. They offer something so much more valuable than money. They offer memories. They offer ideas. They provide the opportunity to experience other worlds and cultures from the comfort and warmth of your own bed. We find love and sorrow and unadulterated joy in their pages. Books have saved me on more than one occasion. They mean so much to me, in fact, that I started writing my own.

If you’re reading this blog, it’s probably because you – yes YOU – would be a book thief. I really can’t articulate what situation might make me grab and run, but I would do it for the following books if I had to:

Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Patterson
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

What book(s) would make you become a book thief?

Bethany Masone Harar is an author, teacher, and blogger, who does her best to turn reluctant readers into voracious, book-reading nerds. Check out her blog here and her website here.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Beth--I would steal "Freeman" by Leonard Pitts, Jr. I would steal "Eleanor & Park" by Rainbow Rowell. I'd steal "Too Late the Phalarope" by Alan Paton.

Renee Roberson said...

Oh, goodness. That's a toughie. The odd thing is that most of the ones I think of off the top of my head are YA books--I guess because that's what I like to read and write the most. There are so many! I love the fact that a student was so immersed in a book he had to walk away with it. (I feel like I'm "stealing" books when I find them for sale for pennies at thrift stores!)I haven't read "Crank" but I did read a book called "Thicker than Water" by Kelly Fiore that also dealt with addiction in teens and was hard to read and hard to put down all at the same time. Thanks for giving me more books to add to my TBR pile!

Angela Mackintosh said...

I saw a rare book at the vintage swap meet that was purchased from an actor's estate--it was a first edition folio-sized, gold-leafed hardback cookbook by Salvador Dali, filled with original artwork created for the book and weird recipes. It was $250. I almost bought it and I'm kicking myself now for not buying it. I had just bought a large crystal for $200 and I didn't want to spend much more at the swap meet, but I should've bought it. That's a book I'd like to steal!

I know that's not the point of your post though. Words that touch your soul are priceless. I would steal so many, but I love purchasing books from authors and supporting them. :)

That's a great list, Beth! And Sioux, I keep hearing about Eleanor & Park so I think I'm going to have to read that one.

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