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Posted on: December 5, 2022

Library Book Returned After 37 Years

37 Years Late!

“I ‘borrowed’ this book in 1985 from the Chester, VA library” said the note in a book mailed from Alameda, California to Chester Library in June. Jeff Atwood, a former Chester resident, returned the book “Gene Wolfe’s Book of Days” by Gene Wolfe thirty-seven years after borrowing it.

The staff at Chesterfield County Public Library had questions and contacted Atwood, a successful web developer, to hear the story behind the book and why it took him so long to return it.  

Jeff Atwood confessed that he had taken the book from the Chester Library without checking it out. “I was stealing things from the library, which is not the behavior that you want to encourage, nor would I encourage anyone (to do it).” he said. Atwood used to spend hours reading when he was younger, it was his own version of a good time. He even says that the library was his “safe haven”. He did normally check out materials from the library.  In 2022, Atwood found the book while he was moving and decided to return it where it belonged. 


Surprisingly, after all this time, Atwood had not read the book until just before he mailed it back. “Gene Wolfe’s Book of Days” is a collection of science fiction stories linked to holidays like Labor Day, Mother’s Day, Halloween, and others. Coincidentally, the first short story is about a person stealing books from the library.

Atwood is a Thomas Dale High School graduate and lives in California with his family.  “One of the pieces of advice I give people, it's really boring advice because it seems really straightforward. It's just read everything, read voraciously, and that's what I was doing,” he mentions while remembering his years as a teenager who loved reading. 

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