Shoplifting Literature: The 5 Most Stolen Books by Publishers Weekly

July 17, 2011

Here’s an example of a link I just had to click on: Publishers Weekly’s list of the five most stolen books. In fact, except for two specific books on their list, the headline should read the five most stolen authors. The two books that make the top five are On the Road by Jack Kerouac and The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. The other three are really categories of books: anything by William S. Burroughs, Charles Bukowski and Martin Amis.

Honorable mentions went to  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, anything by Don DeLillo, The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides, the works of Raymond Chandler and (obviously, redundantly) Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman.

Is there something about outsider or outlaw status that unites this list? But then what is Paul Auster doing on it?  Author of the post Gabe Habash offers this analysis:

If there is one sociological conclusion we can draw from this list, it’s that the “type” of booklifter is likely young and male, and there’s probably a link between the draw of the content of these top books and the actual act of theft. In other words, someone who wants to commit a reckless act is most interested in reading about reckless acts.




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