The best books are the stolen ones.
Okay, not STOLEN, stolen. Please don’t go into Barnes and Noble and walk out with a copy of The Stand hidden in your pants because of me. But you know. The secondhand ones. The borrowed and not returned ones. The ones grabbed from the neighborhood book box, or pulled from a free bin in a college dorm.
I lived in an apartment complex for a time with a bookshelf in the lobby which you could take books from or add books to. Kind of like one of those old “need a penny take a penny, have a penny leave a penny” jars. I left many books on that shelf and traded them in for other resident’s old discarded books of every variety. It was an adventure, and there was something about taking people’s things that felt ever so sneaky.
One of my personal favorite “stolen” books is 1984.
I borrowed the aforementioned copy of 1984 when I was 19 from a friend I had grown up with. I had happened to run into him after not seeing him for a handful of years and we had dinner together. He was just home from his college adventure in Russia. Although we has been friends growing up, his life had taken a different and much more adventurous turn than my own as he got older and we had a fun evening of swapping stories and reminiscing about our shared childhood.
I spotted the book on his bookshelf and he, (in his very analytical tone) described the entire plot from beginning to end, then told me to take it. I told him I would give it back to him the next time I saw him, which we both knew wouldn’t be for a long, long time.
That was nearly 10 years ago, and I haven’t seen him since. Every time I see that white and blue book on the bookshelf shoved in next to its brother Animal Farm, I think of my old friend and our memories and hope he is well, wherever he may be.
My favorite books are ones such as these. The weird ones with special stories, crinkled covers and memories.
Of course, everyone loves Barnes and Noble, but I don’t think I’ve bought a full price book in many moons. Even when I buy books off Amazon I buy second hand, hoping I’ll find a little piece of someone’s story- be it hand scrawled notes, a bookmark, or a coffee stain, stuck between the pages.
What about you? What’s your favorite secondhand, special, or stolen book?