The book thief

He’s been at it again. The book thief has invaded my bookshelves, my piles and closets of books, sorting through the paperbacks and hard covers, quietly, unobtrusively shifting them from my pile to HIS.
I started so innocently.

I bought books at garage sales, book stores and through the mail. We read some, others were stuck on the shelves to be read in the future. I even gave some to him, shrugging away my ownership at the joy of seeing him read.

He started out so young, so innocent, so interested in biology. I still haven’t figured out what happened. I thought I bought the books about trees for my botany class. Somehow, they became his property.

The family subscription to National Geographic became his when everyone else only looked at the pictures. I actually read a couple articles in each Science News, but he read everything else and fussed when the pile was not in chronological order – in his cupboard.

“Take-em!” I thought, “I’m through with those college courses anyway.”
He became interested in religion: Historically, theologically and inspirationally. Whole shelves of my books disappeared only to reappear on his bookshelves.

I know I recommended the books to him. I know I hadn’t read them in years, but …

I went on the defensive and bought used books in subject I thought interested him. I left the new books near the books he owned, but stored at home.
He came home from college, quietly smiled his thanks at my finds and began cataloguing them. I relaxed until I noticed that the bottom shelf of my bookshelf was empty. The book thief had struck again.
I’ll ever know what ones he took. Some have sat there unread for years.
It’s that awful college’s fault; they made him buy his own books. They told him to make notes in his books, to underline important passages, to make the books his. He discovered the power, the joy of reading and owning a book.

He discovered a used book store in the college town with out-of-print books that intrigued him. He discovered a books-by-mail service and began buying books.

One day, after receiving his latest shipment of books, he called to proudly announce, “MY books take up seven feet of space!”
I deferred asking, “How many of those books began as MINE?”
Every time he comes home he brings more books that he has read and wants me and his brother to read. I’m only 43 inches of books behind him. (His brother is at least 50 inches behind.)

He pores over his books like a miser over his gold. He counts them. He writes down the titles, authors and synopsis of content. Then he puts them away in alphabetical order.

He knows what he has read. He knows which books he owns, but e can’t remember which ones came from my bookshelf.

He’s already promised to bring more when he comes back for Christmas.
I have a couple I think he ought to read himself, but he better give them back to me when he is through.