In 1971, American activist and poster boy for the counterculture movement Abbie Hoffman published Steal This Book. (For those who were not born before the 1970s, Hoffman was as famous as the Kardashians; he was one of the most well-known anti-Vietnam War protestors). And obliging teens and young adults did exactly that — thousands were stolen, but at least Hoffman sold more than 250,000 copies. The book was essentially a handbook for protesting against “the Pig Empire” and surviving on as little money as possible. There’s no crime in being frugal, right? To Hoffman, not stealing from the establishment was immoral. In contrast, today the establishment considers it immoral not to steal from the middle and lower class.
Since we are discussing Hoffman’s controversial book, it certainly invites the question: what is the most stolen book? And according to recent research, it seems there are really two questions to address: what is the most stolen book from libraries? and what is the most stolen book from bookstores?
The curious folks at TheStreet visited libraries and bookstores to addressed both of these questions. Librarians and booksellers had no problem listing all the books that seemed to grow legs and walk out the door. Ironically, the two most stolen books are The Guinness Book of Records and The Bible. So much for the 8th commandment: thous shall not steal. As one librarian noted: there is a special kind of hell for those who steal books, especially those that are quite rare. Here are the lists of the most commonly stolen books from libraries and bookstores:
The Most Stolen Books From Libraries:
The Guinness Book of Records
Test preparation books (SAT, ACT, GRE, etc)
Books of legal advice or forms
Sports Illustrated (Swimsuit Edition)
Books with nude photos or paintings; especially the Kama Sutra and erotica novels
Books on college reading lists
Books about the paranormal, witchcraft, etc.
Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series
The Most Stolen Books from Bookstores:
Anything by Charles Bukowski or William S. Burroughs
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
A Moveable Feast and The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
Naked and Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman (of course)
The Alchemist by Paul Coelho
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For further reading: https://www.thestreet.com/slideshow/12795590/1/most-stolen-library-books.html