Bookworms are an interesting sort. Some compulsively hoard literary nuggets until their shelves sag and creak, yet never bother to actually read their collection. Others can barely tear themselves away from the freshly-vacuumed bookstore corner in which they devour the newest Malcolm Gladwell for fear that the trip home will forever interrupt their cozy date. There are bookworms with Kindles, and bookworms juggling the four paperbacks they’re reading at once. There are bookworms who get turned on by first editions, and bookworms keen on newer, abstract renditions. There are bookworms who follow the Tao of Oprah, and others who only listen to Deepak Chopra.
But perhaps the most intriguing bookworm of all is the bibliokleptomaniac, or what we like to call the kleptobrainiac. These people are book thieves, the nerdiest outlaws this side of Hogwarts. Fascinated? Appalled? Exposed? Find out what the most shoplifted books of modern times are after the jump.
In Margo Rabb’s recent New York Times essay, we learn that only 40 percent of books that are read are paid for, and only 28 percent are purchased new. What about the rest? They’re shared, lent, given away or stealthily taken by a customer with a case of the happy hands.
Depending on who you ask, the number one shoplifted book of modern times is either The Bible or The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. After these two, (and like these two) the top 10 list is male-penned. In fact, according to store owners surveyed by Rabb, the most-nicked books share two things: fiction as a genre and a male author.
1. The Bible
In tough times, both religion and shoplifting spike in popularity.
2. The Virgin Suicides
A modern goth novel about suicide pacts. Another sign of the times? We hope not.
3. The works of Martin Amis
Dubbed “The New Unpleasantness” by the New York Times, English novelist Amis rails again the excesses of modern capitalism. A comfort read?
4. The works of Charles Bukowski
A “laureate of American lowlife” and prolific writer, Bukowski also knew how to stick it to the man.
5. The works of William S. Burroughs
A Harvard grad, heroin dealer, and seedy bar frequenter, Burroughs was still getting an allowance from his parents when he was in his forties.
6. The works of Raymond Carver
Oh, just another alcoholic genius with a knack for short stories. Sensing a trend here?
7. The works of Don DeLillo
Post-modern novelist who quit his fancy job at Ogilvy because he “just didn’t want to work anymore.”
8. The works of Jack Kerouac
“Great things are not accomplished by those who yield to trends and fads and popular opinion.” – Jack Kerouac …Like paying for books, right?
9. Steal This Book
Title says it all.
10. Travel guidebooks
The thieves seem to be directionally-challenged nomads.
Brooklyn store manager Zack Zook seems to think the reason for the apparent sexism exhibited by book thieves is just part of the bro-code. “It’s mostly younger men stealing the books,” he told Rabb, “They think it’s an existential rite of passage to steal their homeboy.”
Book theft is seen as the biggest form of sacrilege to some devout word-lovers (after burning/throwing them away, of course). Others, like the author from Boulder who got caught swiping his own book, feel entitled to the works. While we’ll never know how Kerouac would feel about someone shoving his book down their pants, we would like to know how you feel. Have you ever nabbed yourself a book? If not, which one tempts you?