Tuesday, 5 June 2007

A "reader" confesses

I have a confession to make. And I'm asking for your help in deciding what I should do.

Some time last year, I can't remember exactly when, I was in a book shop. That's not the confession by the way. I'm not confessing to being a "reader". Otherwise, it would be me and you both. No, I haven't got to the confession bit yet. Around that time I was going to quite a few book shops and buying books. Mainly these were secondhand book shops and charity shops (Cancer Research shops seem to have the best selection if you're interested).

This particular shop was neither a secondhand shop, nor a charity shop. It was a branch of The Works, a large chain of stores that sell reduced price books alongside toys and craft materials. At the back of this particular store were a selection of books in the area of 'mind, body, spirit'... you know, the usual stuff: astrology, dream interpretation, that kind of thing. The book that caught my attention was a book on "cosmic ordering" called The Complete Guide to Cosmic Ordering: Make Your Dreams Become Reality by A. Moore. Now I've been fascinated by this notion of placing orders with the cosmos to get what you want in life since I read Barbel Mohr's book, The Cosmic Ordering Service. In fact I had read Mohr's book just a few months earlier so the idea was still fairly new to me and why I guess Moore's book caught my eye. (A future post will deal with cosmic ordering in more depth, but for now you can click here to see what Wikipedia has to say about it.)

Anyway, I flicked through a few pages and thought it would be an easy read and at only £3, reduced from £7.99, it was a bit of a bargain (or as the sticker announced “fantastic value!”). I carried it with me as I browsed round the shop a little further.

And then, as I neared the shop entrance, something happened. I suddenly realized that it would be oh so very easy to just walk out with the book in my hand. That’s right, my friend, I entertained the possibility of walking out of the shop without paying for it! I believe the technical term is “shoplifting”. Then, before I knew it, I was over the threshold of the door and out into the rest of the shopping centre with the book (technical term “stolen goods”) still in my clammy hand. I kind of reasoned that if I were caught then I would look down at the book I was holding and suddenly “remember” I had it in my hands and that I must have absent-mindedly wandered out of the shop without paying for it. An honest mistake anyone could make. I would then simply pay the £3 (“fantastic value!”) and be on my way. As it turned out I didn’t get caught. I carried on walking through the shopping centre and I was soon out of sight of the shop (technical term “scene of the crime”).

And that is my confession. In short, last year I nicked a book. Now, almost a year has passed and I have still not yet read the book. I find it interesting that for some reason I haven’t got round to at least scanning this book that I thought would be an easy read. It has sat quietly minding its own business on the bookshelf in between Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (that would explain a lot!) and a book called Angels Do Exist (don't ask). It’s as though deep inside I realized that the book shouldn’t really be on that bookshelf. It wasn't mine to read. But every so often I have glanced up at it and thought to myself that I should at least read it, or take it back to the shop, or do something to appease my guilt. Perhaps I should add the book to those at our local Cancer Research shop or give the £3 I should have paid for the book to a suitable charity.

So here is where I need your help. What do you think I should do? Should I take the book back? Should I send The Works £3? Should I pass the book on to a charity? Or can you think of a more creative way of making good my misdemeanor? Please fellow “reader”, please help one of your own and post a comment to help me with my quandary! (It will also help me to see if anyone actually reads this stuff!) Thanks.


  1. I think you should donate more than the book price to charity. Say round the original price up to £10? Thats only fair for the crime of shoplifting!

  2. You should donate the full book price to charity. Or give the book away. Or do both of these things.

    Actually, i'd do both - if you are feeling that guilty giving money to the charity will help, plus you won't have to look at the book and remember what you did!

  3. I wouldn't have taken the book in the first place, but having done so you need to attone for your crime. Gift Aid £10 to charity as they will then receive £12.20 - £20.20 being the tax that you have (hopefully) paid on the £10. You should also give the book away as it will hold negative karma.

  4. Whoops £2.20 is the tax you will have paid on the £10 not £20.20 as I stated in error.

  5. I would steer clear of the shop you acquired it from. Your punishment is that you haven't been able to read the book.
    I say make yourself read it then give it away to a charity shop.
    If it was something you would want to keep then buy another copy from a different shop and forgive thyself!

  6. You should return the book to the shop where you didn't buy it and tell them that you stole it from them last year and that you are sorry for the delay but you are now returning it.

    I would be interested to hear what happens and how this gesture is recieved?

  7. I fear it may lead to a police cell and a criminal record!

  8. Don't return the book. And I'm not just saying that to be different. Seriously, what will returning the book achieve? You accept that what you did was slightly immoral (but you haven't murdered anyone here, so we should all stop with the confessional) and you're beating yourself up about it. Returning it might mean a police record, because the system doesn't accept a simple 'sorry'. Better to accept it as a mistake and move on. But don't read it. Because any book that that claims to be able to change your reality by thinking about it is going to crap anyway.

  9. p.s. your RSS feed doesn't work... any chance of take care of that?

  10. Shem wrote: "any book that that claims to be able to change your reality by thinking about it is going to crap anyway."

    Your thinking IS your reality full-stop.

  11. Thank you for your help fellow readers! So far there seems to be some consensus to give at least the price of the book to charity.

    But there seems to be less agreement about what to do with the book itself. My original feeling was to take the book back and either return it quietly to the shelf or admit to 'accidentally' taking the book without paying for it and offer to pay either the £3 or the original £7.99.

    If I take the book back (or donate it to charity) should I read the book first?

  12. Shem wrote "p.s. your RSS feed doesn't work... any chance of take care of that?"

    If I knew how to, then yes. I have noticed that the option to subscribe shows up in the URL window if you are looking at spiritualjunkie.blogspot.com but not if you are looking via www.spiritualjunkie.co.uk which points to the blogger page. Any suggestions how I may ensure this is working?

  13. I would send the book back to the shop ..anonymously with the full payment and an apology.

    I say anonymously since you could still be prosecuted for it.....to be honest...wouldn't blame them if they did.

    What compelled you to do that I dont know...only you know and you need to address why to ensure it does not happen again.

    I would not read the book.If you want to read it go out and buy another one.

    I would also suggest you bring your target of £1000 up yourself.
    A lot of money for a book but at least then you might feel you have atoned.

    Lastly..forgive yourself.We all make mistakes.

  14. Blimey Cam, do you really think that much money is neccesary? Yes, shoplifting is bad, but it was only a cheap book so i'm sure The Works isn't really going to miss it.

    Give a little money to charity, get rid of the book, and think again before walking out of a shop without paying!

    There, job done.

  15. Timesofhope.

    Why not?
    The price of the book is not the issue...he stole it and it matters not how much its worth.

    I have no idea what would happen if Spiritual Junkie was taken to court but I imagine he would get a fine as well as a criminal record which could ruin his life.
    I think this way he gets off lightly..no offence SJ.

  16. Having thought more about what to do, and bearing in mind your comments, my feeling is that I should go back to the shop with the book and explain, suitably apologetically, that I took it without paying and that I am back to pay for it.

    At this point I am at the mercy of the person who happens to be behind the cash desk...

  17. Who will then go and get the manager, who will most likely phone the police.

    I really think thats the worst thing you could do. If you do go ahead with it, I wish you luck! You're going to need it!

  18. if you feel you should go into the store, might i suggest you don't say anything about the fact you kind of stole the book, just make sure the shop is busy, and join the queue and pay for the book like you had just picked it up off the shelf. I just fear that it will open a whole can of worms if you make any suggestion that you took the book without paying, and could hurt any job prospects if you were to move on to pastures new, as you will have to disclose any form of criminal record (thats if the shop were to look to prosecute)

  19. Sorry but bad idea to join the queue and pay as if he has just bought it.
    They might not stock the book now and will instantly know.eek!!

    Bad idea SJ to confess.I agree with timesofhope..they will probably prosecute.

  20. Right I have some concrete advice for you now - I know someone who works for the police and they said that if you did take the book back and they called the police, the value of the book is too little to even bother about. The most that will happen is oyu get a fixed penalty fine of about £80.

    I still wouldn't do it though!

  21. Thanks for the info... Your police friend suggests that the most that will happen is to receive a fixed penalty fine of £80. Did he/she think even this was likely?

  22. Depends on the manager and the police really, if they feel that strongly about it you will probably get a fine or worse! Its only a £3 book so they might not feel its worth the effort going through the whole process of pressing charges and doing all that paperwork.

    Obviously, do you feel is best, but don't blame me if it all goes wrong!

  23. Haven't we all had those moments when we think about doing something we should not. Not all of us act on them but some do and usually only one occasion. Perhaps its the rebellious child in us the one that doesn't think about the consequences. Don't feel quilty do what you think is best then forget about it. My advice sendhalf the money to the shop and the other half to he writer (anonymously).

  24. If you really felt that guilty about it you would have walked straight back in to the shop and returned it there and then, but you didn't. You even planned what you would say if you got caught! My advice is read the book, put it on your shelf and every time you look at it you will remember that bit of excitement in an otherwise dull shopping trip. If the book is rubbish write to the author and make him donate money to charity!

  25. Well, I finally got round to going back to the bookshop last week. I decided to pay for the book (as I do want to read it!) but I chose not to say anything about me having walked out with it previously. I don't think the guy behind the cash desk would have been that interested if I had... he was only about 18.

    When he scanned the barcode, the price was only £1.99 and not even the £3 it said on the reduced price sticker. So it really was fantastic value! I now have a pound and a penny that I shouldn't really have, which will go to charity.

    Now I feel I can read the book at last. I'll let you know if it's any good!

  26. This is an experiment to gauge peoples reactions,yes?
    If not then I am amazed at how proud you seem of your achievement.
    How fantastic that you came out of the shop you originally stole from a pound and penny in.
    How wonderful of you to donate that to charity.I am sure they will really appreciate it.
    Enjoy your book.

  27. You really took the book back and paid for it?!

    You are very lucky no questions were raised about the price sticker, I would have thought they might wonder why it had an old price on it.

    I don't really think it redeems you though. You did still steal it in the first place.

  28. Ah, you seem to have returned it. Fair play.

    I would have suggested that you also purchase something you want from that shop, then demand they not let you have it for [duration of how long you pilfered the book].

    Never mind.