Great Falls Library Patron Returns Book he Took in 1982, Plus $200

Patron stole a book from a Montana library in 1982 and returned it after reading it at least 25 times

By Dillon Tabish

GREAT FALLS — A patron who stole a book from a Montana library in 1982 has returned it after reading it at least 25 times, having it restored and having the author sign it.

The man said having the stolen copy of Richard Matheson’s 1975 novel “Bid Time Return” had been bugging him. He included a $200 donation to the Great Falls Public Library while asking “for a chance at redemption here.”

The man called the book fascinating and said he considered it one of the greatest sci-fi/romance stories ever written, the Great Falls Tribune reported Tuesday. It is the story of a dying man who falls in love with a portrait and wills himself back in time to meet the woman.

“This is not my book, it belongs in the Great Falls Public Library — wrongfully taken, yes, but if you can, kindly take into consideration it has been loved and cared for all these years and know I am sorry for taking it,” the man wrote. Library officials did not release his name.

Library Director Kathy Mora recently told trustees that while she didn’t condone the theft, “the effort and funds he put into caring for the book are remarkable.”

Matheson, who died in 2013, is best known for his 1954 novel “I Am Legend” which was made into a movie starring Will Smith in 2007. Other books include “The Shrinking Man,” ”Hell House” and “What Dreams May Come,” all of which were made into movies.

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