I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
Published by Penguin on 2009-09-17
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Criminals & Outlaws, Nonfiction
Buy on Amazon
In the tradition of The Orchid Thief, a compelling narrative set within the strange and genteel world of rare-book collecting: the true story of an infamous book thief, his victims, and the man determined to catch him. Rare-book theft is even more widespread than fine-art theft. Most thieves, of course, steal for profit. John Charles Gilkey steals purely for the love of books. In an attempt to understand him better, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged herself into the world of book lust and discovered just how dangerous it can be. John Gilkey is an obsessed, unrepentant book thief who has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of rare books from book fairs, stores, and libraries around the country. Ken Sanders is the self-appointed
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett is a work of narrative non-fiction. This means it’s most likely not going to be a snooze like your earth science textbook! I think that anybody reading this review most likely loves books. If you don’t love books, why oh why are you on a book review blog?
To introduce the synopsis of The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, I just want to ask a few questions. What lengths would you to in order to obtains books? Would you steal? I know most of you would not, we love books too much to violate them like that. The main person profiled in this book is John Gilkey. Gilkey was so obsessed with books, he would go to incredible lengths to steal them.
To me, Gilkey was reprehensible. I felt he was something of a sociopath, in that he had no remorse about his actions. He felt the rare book dealers were out to get him, because they had all of the rare books he wanted. Honestly, that’s messed up. To me, stealing books is just wrong.
I felt this was a fascinating read. It started off pretty slowly, but as soon as we meet Sanders, the literary “detective” who was after Gilkey, the book got interesting. It was pretty hard to put down. I know, that’s a surprise and all, since this was non-fiction, but it was pretty decent non-fiction. I thought it was interesting that she placed books in the context of objects, and not as stories or ideas. Personally, I like the idea of books as sentimental objects, we all have that one tattered copy of a childhood favorite hovering on our bookcases, don’t pretend you don’t, either. However, I don’t think I would purchase a book just to own it, with no intention of ever reading it (reading it when I’m 30 does count). I thought it was pretty pathetic that Gilkey only cared about his library to impress others. I feel like books are meant to be read, not meant for objects of display or to impress people. Certainly, I understand collecting books, because you love reading. I have a few antique books myself (1916 edition of Treasure Island; 1906 edition of A Tale of Two Cities), collecting is wonderful. But stealing rare books to impress someone, that’s just wrong!
I know, with that rant you probably think I didn’t enjoy this book, but I really actually did. I loved learning about rare book collectors and Sanders. While reading this book, I suggest you retire to the library with some brandy and cigars, ha ha. Not the public library mind you, do not walk in there with brandy and cigars.