October 10, 2012 | 7

Time to confess: what books have you stolen?

is an intern for The Millions. She is a writer and recent graduate of Smith College living in Cambridge, MA. She blogs at


  1. Blake’s Collected Poems… I was in Exclusive Books in Johannesburg, with the book in my hand, when the lights went out, the music stopped… You can imagine the rest. I was severely punished (by my conscience of course!). It was years before I could read Blake.

  2. Well I have never stolen a thing in my life! But let’s say hypotheticly (sp), there is a place in town where you can take 1 book but you have to give a book. I slipped 2 books in my bag & never gave one. Damage by John Lescroart and Kill Me by Stephen White.

  3. I stole Loitering with Intent (without intent). I happened upon it in a library of which I am a member and said to myself: at last I will read Loitering with Intent! To have borrowed it properly, the only requirement would have been to sign it out. But I must have had an unconscious premonition (or intent) that I would lose it, because I quietly slipped it into my bag, intending a long train journey in a place with few books in English. As far as I know, it’s still on the train, in a seatback flap, traveling 900 miles each way every day on the bullet train.

  4. One night during my study abroad program in Mexico, there was a blackout in school. I was at the library, it was 2am, it was exam week and everyone was dying (trying to formulate a scenario to make my action excusable). I was flipping “Le Corbusier: Moments in the Life”, which has amazing photography by René Burri. It was for an architecture assignment, and the book was too captivating. So we all had to go home when the entire library went pitch black: the security guard chased us out with his torchlight. And then I realised, if the lights are off, the alarm at the library exit must be off too.

    I walked home happily. It was cold, but the book was safely tucked under my sweater.

  5. I stole The Moth Diaries from my old local library. I’d borrowed it and kept renewing it and then I moved and I accidentally signed up with a different library (same local library, but different branch with my new address). I had fallen in love with the book. It made me realise what kind of novels I want to write; I’d fallen in love with the Epistolary format and I read it a few times a year, now.

    I also accidentally stole a few novels from my ex. when I kicked him out, but not sure that counts as I paid for them.

  6. I borrowed a book on Yeats from my college library in the mid 90’s with a vow to return the “favor” by making some kind of redeeming project from it. But still working on the vow, and still plan to return it afterwards. Maybe I should’ve just let it be.

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