The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Barlett

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession

I give this book 4 Stars!

Description: John Charles Gilkey is an obsessed, unrepentant book thief who has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of rare books from book fairs, stories, and libraries around the country. Ken Sanders is the self-appointed “bibliodick” (book dealer with a penchant for detective work) driven to catch him.
Journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett befriended both eccentric characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, she not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes and how Sanders ultimately caught him, but also explores the romance of books, the lure to collect them, and the temptation to steal them.
Immersing the reader in a rich, wide world of literary obsession, Bartlett looks at the history of book passion, collection, and theft through the ages, to examine the craving that makes some people willing to stop at nothing to possess the books they love.

I wasn’t sure I would like this book at first for a couple reasons. First, I don’t normally read nonfiction. Second, it read kind of like a paper for school at first. But, it didn’t take me long to get wrapped up in the world of rare books and book theft.
I’ve never given much thought to rare books. Sure, I collect books but that’s about it. I was completely amazed at some of the books and the stores/dealers that carry them in this story. In fact I might make a trip to Salt Lake City to see Ken Sanders store sometime in the future (it’s only 2 1/2 hours from me so why not!). It actually made me want to find out more information on rare book (not that I plan on collecting lol!)
I’ve also never thought about book theft. I know about the destruction of books throughout history. But, people actually going out of their way to steal one…wow. I was enthralled with how Gilkey would research out a book and then go about adding it to his “collection”. I was even more amazed at how he never felt remorse or that what was doing was wrong. If anything he almost felt it was the dealers fault for putting his beloved books out of reach.
The only thing that bothered me was at times I wasn’t sure whose side the author was on. She does mention taking to lawyers about legal responsibility in reporting Gilkey, but I never felt like it really bothered her. And I’m pretty sure she should have reported when he admitted he was violating his parole.
Overall, it was an interesting and enlightening read!

*I want to thank Lydia Hirt from G.P. Putnam’s Sons / Riverhead for the chance to review this book.

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Published in: on September 18, 2009 at 1:26 pm  Comments (1)  
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  1. Hi Page:

    Thanks for such a wonderful review! I’m glad you enjoyed this as much as I did. Since reading it, I’ve found it impossible to walk past one of those street stands selling used books without searching for that elusive first edition… or walking past an antique store, and looking for that “secret” first collection published by an anonymous Poe.

    Like you, I’m not typically a huge nonfiction fan, Bartlett drew me in the story so well I kept on having to remind myself Gilkey is a deplorable thief and not just the result of the author’s imagination and talented hand!

    If you do make it to the store of Ken Sanders I would love to see pictures and a review! Please let me know if you decide to make the trek. I wish I could, but think it’s a little out of my range!

    Best,
    Lydia

    PS I’m trying to do my first giveaway on my blog, I’d love it if you stopped by! http://novelwhore.wordpress.com/2009/09/16/according-to-jane-review-giveaway/


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