BookRiot recently posted a list of 17 Books That Sell Way Too Fast at Used Bookstores, which I found fascinating. In particular, I found it curious that this list did not more closely overlap with another list I’d previously read, which contained the Most Frequently Stolen Books (this isn’t the list I read, but here’s a list of Most Commonly Stolen Books that includes both libraries and bookstores). I seem to recall this latter list included pretty much anything by Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, Hunter S. Thompson, and William Burroughs.
While these Most Stolen authors’ books are clearly coveted for their frank depictions of sex, drugs and life on the road (presumably as a precursor to the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle), I thought it was odd that there were no female authors on this list.
Therefore, I’ve decided to create my own list of the Top 10 Best Books to Stick It To The Man. You can decide for yourself whether or not to pay for the book or use the ol’ five-finger discount.* After all, why should you pay for a book that the patriarchy doesn’t even want you to know how to read?
10 – The SCUM Manifesto by Valerie Solanas
If you’re gonna start stealing books from bookstores – even evil chain bookstores run by soulless corporations – you’re gonna need Valerie Solanas’s timeless classic, The SCUM Manifesto, which revolves around the fictional (or is it?!) Society for Cutting Up Men. In fact, if you don’t already own this one, I dare you to walk into your nearest B&N and order it from the man at the help desk. If there’s a woman at the help desk, ask if you can speak to one of her male associates, as it’s an urgent matter only a person with a penis is truly equipped to handle. Be sure to give the nice lady a conspiratorial wink so she’ll get that you are totally not questioning her abilities as a bookseller; this is just business.
9 – Steal This Book by Abbie Hoffman
You’d like to think that’s my next suggestion, wouldn’t you? But you’d be wrong, because women don’t just do whatever some damn man’s book title tells them to! Nope, number 9 on my list of recommended book titles to steal is actually The Freedom Outlaw’s Handbook: 179 Things to Do ‘Til the Revolution by Claire Wolfe. Nevermind the fact that there’s a cartoon dude on the cover, this book is chock full of awesome ways to fly under the radar, lie, cheat and steal your way to happiness by gaming the American system. While some of Wolfe’s suggestions skew a bit Apocalypse Cuckoo (stockpiling gold and guns? not voting?), the book’s got plenty of suggestions for sticking it to The Man, just in case you’ve already run through your own checklist.
8 – The Diary of Frida Kahlo by Frida Kahlo
If you don’t already own this book, you’re clearly in need of some art therapy. What’s not to like about Frida, a woman who painted her dreams and sorrows, even while bedridden after a horrific accident? Her beautiful clothing and jewelry distracted the world from her crippled body, but it also represented her resilient artistic spirit, her culture, her refusal to be ignored or diminished as “just” a disabled woman – even as folks tried to push her back into the shadows cast by her famous husband, Diego. Frida was my first artistic hero, introduced by a grumpy middle-school art teacher, and I will love her always, unibrow and all.
7 – Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Spies never get caught. Are you a civilian or a spy? Pay a kid five bucks to steal this one for you so there’s no way to trace the crime back to you, and the kid will still be tried as a juvenile if push comes to shove. Be sure to coach them on denial before you send them in on their dangerous covert mission.
6 – Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Want some help with your writing? Want to know more about life? Biggity bam: you need Bird By Bird. Grab it from the shelf of your big-box bookstore and walk out, free as a jaybird.
5 – The Lover by Marguerite Duras
If you haven’t got anything steamy tucked into your purse, you’ll need to nick this quick. Hot enough to set your knickers on fire, forget that boring 50-something nonsense written by an illiterate urchin; this French tale of forbidden love in colonial-era Vietnam is the perfect bit of cross-cultural erotica to include on your To Steal list. For bonus points, read it in its original French, as L’Amant.
4 – The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Liberate this Chicago native from the shackles of the shelves! Grab a copy of The House on Mango Street to find out how the mean streets of the Second City’s past compare to their present.
3 – Sky Burial by Xue Xinran
Free Tibet, and free this book from the store if you dare! Xue Xinran’s blend of fiction and nonfiction will have you as lost in the clouds as a Tibetan living at the edge of the world. Learn more about average, everyday Tibetan society – not just His Holiness the Dalai Lama – through the lens of a Chinese reporter gathering this unusual story.
2 – Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson
Raised by obsessively religious adoptive parents, and discovering her sexuality – as well as her love of books – did not match up with the Biblical teachings she was meant to uphold, Jeanette Winterson was always destined to be different. Liberate this lyrical autobiography from the suffocating stacks, and do both literature and lesbians everywhere a favor by reading this fantastic coming-of-age story instead of that boring POS, The Catcher in the Rye. AGAIN.
1 – Cunt by Inga Muscio
Steal it because the cunt must be free. Steal it because the cunt is not for sale. Steal it because the cunt is the work of the goddess. Steal it because you can, because you must. Steal it because Inga would want you to.
If you were to turn to the dark side…
What books would you recommend readers
*NOTE: This blog obviously does not condone nor recommend stealing books. Any suggestions to the contrary should be considered satire, in the vein of Abie Hoffman’s Steal This Book. Do not try this at home. All other typical conditions and disclaimers apply.