Around the World With a Vagabond

Is it Wrong to Steal Your Own Book Back? December 21, 2009

This is a question for which I don’t have an answer.

While lazily enjoying the hammocks draping from balconies in the Spanish courtyard of the Musicology hostel, I was thoroughly engaged in reading the final chapters of The Confessions of Max Tivoli. An English guy who covered the reception area had seen me with the book in my hand, and asked if he could borrow it when I finished.  I said sure, but was wondering if I really meant that.

Would I get it back? Probably not.  Would he trade me for another book? Maybe, but what if I don’t like his books?

Whatever. I spent hours finishing up my book. For the record, it’s a very good book. Anyway, the English guy harrassed me everytime I passed him, requesting the book when I finished.

Lying in the hammock, I read the final pages of the story – and I hated it. It was such an unexpected ending! Horrible in every way! (I enjoyed the book – don’t get me wrong.  It did what good books do, and completely aroused my emotions. But these were emotions of disgust and frustration and annoyance).

Anyway, I finished the book, and huffed out of the hammock and past the reception. The English guy was sitting at the desk, and I tossed the book rather harshly onto the desk at him and carried on out the door.

I regret doing this.  First of all, I lent the book to him the day before we had planned to leave the hostel, so there’s no way he could finish it and return it to me in time. Secondly, I didn’t get to exchange my book for one of his. Not even a crappy one.

This bothered me off and on for the next couple weeks. Why did I give this guy my book? I didn’t even really like him. I had enjoyed the book after all, despite the crushing way it ended, and I wanted it back. We didn’t even trade!

Two weeks later, we happened to be back in the same hostel. It was only a quick stop. We arrived after 11pm, and needed to be gone by 6:30 the next morning.  The English guy was upstairs tending bar.  I could easily have crept into his hostel room, and taken my book from the bookshelf I knew he used in there.  He would never know what happened to it, or that it was me who stole it.  Stole it back.

In the end, I was too exhausted to do it.  Too tired to put action to my criminal thoughts.  But I wish I had now.  It’s MY book and I want it back. Still.

Is that bad?