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A young man from Nanjing, China, has been arrested after stealing more than 800 social science textbooks, history compendiums and poetry books from a book shop in the town. When questioned by police, the young man maintained that he was searching for ‘the meaning of life’ within the books’ pages.

Noticing that an unusually large amount of highbrow reading material was going unaccounted for, the owner of the book shop contacted the local authorities, wherein plain-clothes officers were sent to keep an eye out for the thief or thieves. Midway through their investigation, officers spotted a young man who would always arrive at the book shop on an electric bicycle that had ample storage space. Whenever he left the store, the same young man always appeared to be carrying several brand-new books, which he quickly stowed in his bike before riding off.

Having repeatedly observed the young man’s suspicious behaviour, police contacted the store owner again and asked that they run a stock take. Sure enough, some 30 more books had vanished. Confident that they had their man, police moved to catch the thief red-handed.

Upon his arrest, the young man, who is known simply as ‘Mr. Lee’, admitted that he had been swiping books from the store since February this year, and had amassed a collection of more than 800 titles in less than six months, hitting the same shop three or four times a week. After reading the books, he would sell them on, using whatever money he made for day-to-day expenses.

Somewhat tragically, the man claimed to have taken the books in an effort to find some form of meaning in his existence, but, having devoured more literature than most full-time college students would during their entire time in tertiary education, he was still none the wiser as to why we are here.

“I couldn’t comprehend the meaning of life,” the thief confessed. “I was hoping to find the answer by reading those books.”

We’re not sure whether to laugh or cry right now…

Source: NariNari (Japanese)
Title image: MPS Novel Database