Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Book Thief is loosely based on my life. (Not really.)

When I was a kid I visited my local library very, very frequently. I searched high and low for each and every unicorn-adorned book I could find in the children’s section (fellow fantasy-lovers of my generation will remember these unicorn stickers well). When I ran out of unicorn books around age or nine or ten, I wandered over to the adult section to see what wonders it held. 

Unfortunately for me and my local librarian, while I loved taking books out of the library, I was not very good at giving them back. I would tear through them quickly, then get distracted by my ten thousand extracurricular activities—I was on student council, an orange-vested crossing guard, and pretty much always rehearsing for some community play or other—and forget to return the books.

As the months and fees piled up, I still refused to take these books back to the library. It’s not that I thought I deserved these books for free, or didn’t think I should have to pay the late fees. I was just so terrified of disappointing the sweet, plump librarian that I couldn’t stand the thought of facing her and admitting that I had fucked up. 

Eventually I stopped checking books out of the library altogether. Instead I put books in my coat and quite brazenly walked around the alarms by the exit. God bless libraries; their security doesn’t tend to be exactly airtight. I sailed into the worlds of I Capture the Castle and Brave New World on commandeered ships, all because I couldn’t bear the thought that if I officially took the books out of the library, I might end up returning them late and disappointing someone. 

In my ten-year-old mind, stealing books which countless others could have enjoyed seemed a far more logical option than simply, you know, maybe just trying harder to take books back to the library on time.

The moral of this story is that you should never, ever lend a book to me. For all we know that might be just the trigger I need to send me spiraling into a full-scale life of crime. 

P.S. I’ll see you in court, Markus Zusak. 

P.P.S. (Not really.)


  1. Not that I don't love Short Post and a Song, but damn I forgot how good you are in your more substantial posts. How long did this life of book crime go on, I wonder?

    1. Not long, thankfully. Brave New World and I Capture the Castle are actually the only ones that I remember, though I know there were a few others. The guilt ate away at me and I started buying books instead, beginning a lifelong obsession with bookstores. I still feel a creeping sense of guilt whenever I walk into a library.