I committed another book crime today.
I was at the library and really wanted to take out a few novels. But I don’t have a card, nor am I eligible for one — only affiliated students are allowed to check out books. I begged the librarian (“I really really really love to read and am desperate for new books…”), but to no avail. Finally I asked her if I could check out the books on the card of a friend of mine, and she conceded. The only problem was that I didn’t really have any such friend in mind. I racked my brain and finally thought of someone I know who would probably have a library card at this institution. I gave the librarian his name, and sure enough, he came up on the screen. And, rather sheepishly and somewhat guiltily, I proceeded to check out three books on his card, unbeknownst to him…
I know, I know. You don’t need to be Randy Cohen to tell me that this was not quite ethically above-board. But I so wanted those books….
I have noticed that this is a theme in my life: I am willing to take liberties in situations that involve books and reading that I would never otherwise take. I will carry books on Shabbat in places without eruvim because I’m convinced that books were not really meant to be physical objects and therefore should be considered massless. I will turn on a light on Shabbat if it is the only way that I can read (though I won’t then turn it off). And I’ll walk in the middle of the street with my head in a book and not look up, convinced that traffic will stop while I finish the paragraph. And this too: I’ll read an entire novel in the bookstore if I really don’t want to spend the money on it.
This al chet list could go on until my chest is sore. And I do feel bad about it, even if I’m not likely to mend my ways. Though perhaps today was a step in the right direction: As soon as I left the library, I called up my friend and confessed that there were three books checked out in his name. “I don’t usually do this kind of thing…I’m sorry….”
He forgave me. In truth, I think he was kind of amused.