No, this isn’t a post about the critically-acclaimed Markus Zusak book. More like an attempt to piggyback on that book’s popularity as I start this book blog. What this post is about is a book thief living in far less turbulent times and learning far less valuable lessons.
I started reading books at a very young age, mostly because my parents left me with relatives during the summer months and I had to make a choice between listening to “Matud Nila” or reading my cousin’s extensive collection of Sweet Valley High books.
I obviously chose Sweet Valley High over the siren call of Pilita Corrales, and therefore
spent five of my summers immersing myself in the world of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. I knew about Liz’ troubles with Todd Wilkins and Jeffrey French and was shocked all the way to my little seven-year-old toes when Regina Morrow died in “On the Edge”.
After that, I moved on to Greek mythology via Edith Hamilton, and would often find myself in the high school library of the Don Bosco Technical Institute in Makati, trying to will myself to become Athena because she had an awesome breastplate and was incredibly smart.
From mythology, the next logical jump for me was the world of fantasy, and Terry Brooks was my author of choice. I plowed through the first three Shannara books: “Sword”, “Elfstones”, and “Wishsong” and saved and scrimped to buy the books that followed.
It was during this particular time in my life that I began to show my penchant for thievery whenever books were involved. I had managed to get myself “The Scions of Shannara”, “The Druid of Shannara”, and “The Elf Queen of Shannara”, but just couldn’t afford to buy “The Talismans of Shannara”. So what I did was take P500 that was given to me by my cousins to give to my father to pay for their part of the rent and use it to buy the book.
Let’s pause for a moment here while you all clutch your pearls to your chest.
In my defense, I didn’t have the guts to push through with buying the book. Halfway to the bookstore I turned back and gave back the P500 and bawled my eyes out. Oh, those halcyon times.
When I was about 16 or so I took to shoplifting with gusto. Unlike my other classmates who favored restaurant trays, I took books. The first one I ever stole was an unauthorized biography of Ewan McGregor entitled “Shooting Star: The Ewan McGregor Story”. I had chosen to skip Citizen’s Army Training (CAT) and go to the mall instead in my CAT uniform. This proved to be a great decision because I was able to stuff the book in my rolled-up military jacket.
Because all of these acts were so easy to do, I just kept on doing them, especially when there was a book I really liked and I had no money to buy it. A few weeks after stealing “Shooting Star” I would steal Terry Brooks’ “Running with the Demon“, and about a couple of months after that I stole Anne Rice’s “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty“.
After that, my predilection towards shoplifting just died a natural death. I had started to work and was earning enough to buy the books that I wanted to, and stealing just seemed a needless risk.
Another far less noble reason was that my copies of “The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty” and “Beauty’s Punishment” were borrowed from me and never returned, so I guess I took that as a sign that karma was coming my way if I didn’t stop.