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

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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 bIn 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.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 "bibliodick" (book dealer with a penchant for detective work) driven to catch him. Bartlett befriended both outlandish characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, she has woven this entertaining cat-and-mouse chase into a narrative that not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes, where he stashed the loot, 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....

Title : The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781594488917
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 274 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

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

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2019-03-20 11:26

    This book belongs to none but me For there's my name inside to see. To steal this book, if you should try. It's by the throat that you'll hang high. And ravens then will gather 'bout To find your eyes and pull them out. And when you're screaming "Oh, Oh, Oh!" Remember, you deserved this woe. ---Warning written by medieval German scribeFortunately for me I live in the part of the world where people can not conceive of a book being of a value worth stealing. Thieves here are more interested in cash, and flat screen televisions than say a first edition of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy. This is the story of the rare book dealer, Ken Sanders and his search for the book thief John Gilkey. I have issue with the title The Man Who Loved Books Too Much. I'm a bibliophile and suffer from bibliomania, but I would never, ever steal a book because for me ownership is directly tied to the fact that I paid for the book. There is no ownership, merely possession if an object is stolen. Gilkey felt that because he could not afford the books that he was justified in not only stealing the books, but stealing credit cards to use to purchase the books. The only victims as he saw it were the "rich" rare book dealers. He came up with elaborate schemes to put booksellers at ease enough to filch their books, and at the same time went to great lengths to not be recognized. Ken Sanders, a collector and rare book dealer out of Salt Lake City, started to notice a pattern in book thefts across the country, and put together a network through the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America to try and warn dealers about the rash of stolen rare books and thus the first biblodick was born. This story is about John Gilkey and Ken Sander's detective work in bringing him to justice. It is too bad that John Gilkey, to some degree, achieved the fame he wanted through the writing of this book, but without him the efforts of Ken Sanders could not be lauded. I have some respect for those book thieves that steal because they have a love of rare books. John Gilkey stole rare books because he perceived the ownership of rare volumes to equate with the respect he craved. He wanted people to come over and be impressed by the rare books on his shelves and see him as an educated, smoking jacket wearing, bourbon drinking, blue blood aristocrat. He was never any of those things. He was just a man who did not want to work for a living and yet wanted to own the finer things in life, not because he loved those items, but because he wanted to be perceived as someone who owned those fine objects. The moments when the author stepped into the book annoyed me. In fact if she had not done such a wonderful job of interviewing the rare book dealers and conveying their views and life, I would have rated this book much lower. When she would sit around and whine about not really understanding book collecting, I would find myself grinding my teeth. I was starting to question if she was really the right person to tell this story. Luckily those moments involving the author were few and far between, and frankly could have been left out of the book. It has been many years now since I used to work a booth at the San Francisco Book Fair, but it brought a smile to my face whenever she would mention a name of a rare book dealer that I had the pleasure to meet. This is a book for book people, but also those that enjoy a real life detective story.If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.comI also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten

  • Stephen
    2019-03-02 09:59

    Ahhhh...books. They are wonderful...especially books about other books. Even better are books about books that are rare and valuable. These books give methe happies. There were chunks of this story that serenaded my growing bibliomania off its feet like Cyrano de Bergerac beneath Roxane’s window. I love books. I love them for their minds and I love them for their bodies and over the past few years, I’ve begun collecting first editions of my favorite novels. I get tremendous enjoyment from it as I am a collector at heart, like my recent acquisition of a signed, 1st of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and Perdido Street Station (both on my all time favorite list). *does quick happy dance while thinking of them*So when the true-crime story, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, details the book thief, John Gilkey, walking through rare book shows (something I have yet to do) and describing beautiful first editions of works like: H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror, H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Vladimir Nabakov’s Lolita, and even Dr. Suess’ The Cat in the Hat (worth over $8500 by the way), my collecting cockles warmed and my chops salivated as my insides revved up and headed for an earth-shattering bibliogasm. Yeah...its a problem. There were definite waves of envy and lust that washed over me and I can certainly understand the tug of need for acquiring such rarities. Heaven for me would certainly include a number of large buildings filled withThat’s the good part of this story.However, apart from the incredibly compelling and O-O O-face causing recitation of rare first editions and their stratospheric prices, the balance of the book was really Meh to average at best. The writing isn’t bad, but it comes across like by the numbers journalism, which decently conveys information but very little else. It’s all surface. No emotion, no insight, no depth...just the facts ma’am. That was not my biggest problem, however. For me, that dubious honor goes to the main character, John Gilkey. This waste of breath is a scummy, narcissistic sociopath who defines the term disprickable asstard. He is as unlikeable and repugnant a non-violent criminal as you are likely to come across. This guy remorselessly steals valuable rare books from mom and pop book dealers who can barely make ends meet and considers it his right to do so because “it is unfair that I can’t afford them on my own.” Are you kidding me, you psychotic nutbag? He continuously points the finger at everyone but himself and says that he is forced to steal because the mean dealers make the book “too expensive” for him to afford otherwise. Now, being so smitten with rare books (as I’m sure many reading this are as well), you might think that John would find a sympathetic ear was those who “share his love” for books. No, he’s an asshole. A major asshole. A Major General asshole in the Army of Assholes. He steals things and he hurts good people in the process. He’s a worthless human stain.Even his love of books is deformed. He doesn’t even read them or have any interest in reading them. They are just some twisted “self-centered” mechanism to make himself feel more refined and classy. His reason for “owning” them is to be able to appear as a gentlemen. “Hey, I own a rare book, aren’t I cultured.” The guy makes my stomach turn like a pinwheel in a hurricane and all I could think was how violated I would feel if any of my favorite books were stolen. Okay, let me briefly summarize the book before my rant against Gilkey goes nuclear (sorry if I’m too late for that). The story details the author’s interviews with Gilkey who, for some reason or another, opens up and describes his history of book theft. He explains how most of his crimes were perpetrated using bad checks and stolen credit card numbers that he obtained working retail. We learn of his childhood and how his family were a bunch a thieving scumbags as well and how it was his love of comic-books that got him interested in books and book collecting. One other thread of the book follows Ken Sanders, a rare book dealer and amateur detective who is the volunteer security chief for the ABAA (the Antiquarian Booksellers of America). Ken knows Gilkey is scum and is trying to bring him back to justice when he steals again. Overall, if you are fascinated by the rare book world and love to read about valuable editions, this is worth a read. It’s for that reason that I am calling this an “I like it” though just barely. If it wasn’t for that, this would be just another two star earning mild disappointment. 2.5 to 3.0 stars. Recommended (for bibliophiles and bibliomaniacs).

  • Diane S ☔
    2019-03-04 09:03

    It is always hard for me to not find something fascinating in a book about books. This was a whole new world of books in which I was introduced. Those who collect, sell and yes steal them. A completely different mindset they have, collectors and thieves. I love books but except for a few gorgeous old copies of a few, I am a reader, not a collector. Neither have the time, passion nor money. We are introduced to Sanders, an avid collector, owns a book store that sells regular fiction as well as first editions and other rarities in this rarefied book world. We are also introduced to Gilkey, a man who is knowledgeable about books, loves them, wants them and will do anything to aquire them. These two men are opposite end of the book collecting spectrum, or are they? Gilkey basically steals his books, using whatever means are available to him, has spent months in jail for theft, but seems to be unable to stop. Actually seems to feel he is entitled to these books, he is obsessed and obtuse. As I said a whole new mindset is what I discovered within, passion and entitlement.I did enjoy reading this but there was quite a bit of repetition, felt some points were belabored, again and again. It was, however, a good introduction into a world I had little previous knowledge of, though I do believe this would have made a better long magazine article, rather than a book.

  • astried
    2019-03-04 05:57

    I wanted to like this book, but I can't. I thought it would be a story about a man who loved book too much, but it wasn't. Sure, he wanted books so much that he stole it, but not because a book contains story. He only stole it because he thought wealthy people should have an imposing library, because first print books have high monetary value. It's like treating book like Prada bags or whatever other silly wealth symbols. I never could understand the power or need of marked merchandise and it annoyed me seeing books, a thing I love, treated as one. Of course this is not the author's fault, after all she was only stating the fact. However how she presented her story bothered me too. For the whole span of the book she was so bewildered that this man has so little moral in him to steal *gasp* books! She couldn't grasp this idea of immorality and kept on pushing forward people who also loved books but didn't steal, which gets pretty stale midway of the book. On the other hand she didn't have any problem understanding that Gilkey used stolen money for a nice high-life holiday or two, which led me to believe that what Bartlett couldn't grasp was not his lack of moral but his target, books instead of jewel or sport cars. I could've told her not to bother thinking about it so much, obviously Gilkey treated books as monetary valuable goods and source of prestige, so why not books? He would've done the same had his fancy was taken by jewelry or cars. So, my last grudge with this book is his method of stealing. I was imagining a daring operation involving breaking in a shop, library, highly secured museum... He could've at least stole it during open hours right in front of shop owner's nose hiding it inside his sweater... But no,it was credit card fraud *yawn* (I'm sorry, does this count as a spoiler?) I'd rather read more about this other guy who burnt down a house and killed 4 people to have the book he wanted. This book is truly a let down and dissapointment for me.

  • Forrest
    2019-02-20 12:16

    As both an undergraduate and graduate student, I had a penchant for spending time in the rare manuscripts rooms at both BYU and University of Wisconsin-Madison. While my studies in African History did require me to spend time there to peruse books for research, I enjoyed taking time to thumb through (with gloved hands, of course) everything from medieval manuscripts to pioneer journals to (my favorite) the entire selection of Yellow Book Quarterly, which had nothing at all to do with my research. But hey, I paid tuition (still am, thank you student loans), so I figured I could go in and read what I liked, so long as I left things undamaged and unsoiled by my grubby hands (hence the gloves). But I never once thought of stealing any of these books. Part of it was my conscience (I consider myself an honest person and I hate, hate, hate people who lie a lot), and part of it was security measures put in place to discourage temptation and crimes of opportunity. Now, having done a little writing myself, I know how much work goes into writing a book, let alone the outrageous consumption of time and materials that must have gone into books in the early modern era. Old books are treasures. They should be kept that way: safe and secure.But there are people out there who will steal such books, usually, I am told, to resell them for profit.But John Gilkey was is not such a man. The title The Man Who Loved Books too Much would lead you to believe that Gilkey bought rare books with other people's credit card information because . . . well, he loved them. But the author shows that Gilkey stole rare books because he loved himself too much. A few reviewers have rated this book poorly because they find Gilkey's acts reprehensible. Yes, they are. The man is a selfish slouch with a sense of entitlement that would give Ronald Reagan heart attacks. But I rate books solely on the book and whether or not it was successful. And here, I have to say . . . "meh". Bartlett is a journalist. I'll admit to not having a very high opinion of most journalists (especially since I ran for local political office years ago and saw, firsthand, how they distort people's words to suit their own need for "the story"), but I thought I'd give her the benefit of the doubt. The whole schtick of the book - book thief, book detective, literary obsession - seemed very interesting. And it was . . . until Bartlett decided to put herself in the book. I found the story of the book thief and his pursuit compelling reading. I was fascinated by the internal workings of the rare book industry. But then . . . well, Allison, things got weird between us. You started wondering if you could get into the thief's head and went on and on about your involvement with the case. You forgot that there needs to be some element of objectivity in a journalistic piece and you questioned this very simple assumption. You did a layman's psychological self-examination of yourself and laid it all out for the reader. Only this reader didn't want it. The story was enough in itself. I loved the story. I don't know if the editor applied pressure, thinking it would sell more books or if you just needed the filler or what, exactly. But sometimes it's best to quit while your still ahead. Or, better yet, quit before you inadvertently shine the spotlight on yourself.*sigh*

  • Lisa Vegan
    2019-03-18 06:20

    I’d wanted to read this book since it was first published (I first learned of it, and Gilkey, from one of my local independent bookstores), and so I was grateful when my real world book club decided to read it.It was not exactly what I’d expected, a book about a man who loves books, and happens to steal them. The man in question is less a book lover and more a narcissist, sociopath and thief, primarily but not exclusively stealing books.I was not as enthralled as I’d expected to be. I was appalled and I did remain interested, but not quite as fascinated as I’d expected to be, given how much I like books and given how owning/losing books has been such an important influence in my life, and given that this is a true story with a focus on San Francisco. I tend to be especially interested in San Francisco themed books. I did find this man’s family history very intriguing. I also enjoyed the information about rare book collectors and dealers, and some of the history about books in various cultures.I know this is irrational but at times as I read I felt like a guilty witness.I was particularly infuriated about the stealing from libraries, including my (SFPL) public library. I do often see the only copy/all the copies listed as “missing” in the online catalog. I’d known some of those books might have been stolen but always assumed they were more likely to have been lost. I wish the footnotes that contain additional stories and text had been incorporated into the book proper because they were distracting as footnotes and the ones with extra stories could just have easily been included in the main part of the book.What I enjoyed most was recognizing so many of the San Francisco settings. One thing I learned is that, despite owning so many books, I am not a book collector, as the term is used here. I don’t aim to acquire valuable or rare books, not even signed first editions. And I have to say I’m grateful I’m a heavy duty user of the library. I don’t want people like Gilkey coming into my place to steal anything.I’d recommend this book less for bibliophiles and more for readers interested in psychopathology.3 to 3 ½ stars, which means it was a bit of a disappointment, but I still liked it.

  • Nikki
    2019-02-21 07:58

    The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is definitely the wrong title for this book, because that's really not what this book is about. The love of stories is something I can relate to, easily -- or even the love of beautiful first editions. The amoral antics of a thief who wants to have books as a status symbol, and the wishy-washy morals of the story-hungry writer, are not something I can sympathise with as much. And I increasingly worried about the latter. She could have reported thefts of books worth thousands and thousands of dollars; she could have reported credit card fraud; she could have helped to discover where Gilkey hid the books.By the end of the book, I wasn't sure that she would do that last -- and I knew she didn't report the thefts or the fraud. She becomes an unreliable narrator, I think. I mean, humans already tend to be, because even the most honest of us have fallible memories. I was almost more interested in that increasing swing to being on Gilkey's side.In any case, as a book, it's easy to read, though not exactly glittering prose. It's a collection of recollections and personal musings, none of which I found particularly interesting. The more interesting figure of Ken Sanders, the "bibliodick", was rapidly written out as he began to notice the author's growing bias and unethical practices.

  • Diana
    2019-02-28 11:19

    For the most part I enjoyed this book. It was a ripping yarn, well researched and well written however a disappointing ending prevented this from being a 5 star book. As a collector I could relate to some of the madness but the complete lack of morality of the thief left me stumped. Could someone be so full of guile, a rat cunning genius or were they mentally impaired and dead lucky? It did make me wonder. The book provided wonderful insights into the history and personalities of rare book collectors and dealers. I was a little disappointed that many collectors have no interest in actually reading their quarry but then I don't collect rare books and see books as an opportunity to immerse myself in other worlds through the stories within. I don't need first editions or even ownership to enjoy books. Parts of this book were excerpted in a Best American Crime Anthology and the author's tactful and remarkable access to a criminal was amazing. The author walked a tightrope between being a reporter or being an accessory to crime. A very interesting book, recommended for book lovers.

  • miaaa
    2019-02-28 07:20

    I think life's an irrational obsession.Sean Penn And I solemnly think this book is about obsession, which has a shallow and fragile border with insanity. A man with disturbed upbringings, John Gilkey, sets the world to his own rules of fairness and rights. Whatever impacts his conducts may have caused to others would never bother him, or he simply pretends not to. And somehow whilst reading this magnificent journal, I can't divert my mind from Carlos María Domínguez's The Paper House. Prior reading the book, I'll buy book randomly and mostly ended up disappointed -although of course there's a chance of a gem to dozens of craps. But then somehow, slowly but sure, I'm forging my path to be a bibliophile. Ever since the encounter with Gabriel García Márquez's Memories My Melancholy Whore, I listed all his books into the so-called a wishlist and stockpiling them one by one: - The second in the collection would be two copies of Love in the Time of Cholera -the Vintage 2007 edition is somewhere out there and Pra sent me another 2003 Vintage edition. - Aldo one night gave me the Indonesian edition of Clandestine in Chile -I might bring this for the coming up trip.- I got Of Love and Other Demons from Ronny, along with one Llosa's book. - Gieb and Roos bought the Indonesian copy of the Bon Voyage Mr. President and Other Stories for me.- When I went to Malang for an annual homecoming hehe, I found -well actually bought it unlike Gilkey's term of 'found'- the 2006 Harper Perennial's edition of The Autumn of the Patriarch. - Around November 2009 Grace, my sister, gave me three vouchers and I used them to buy 2007 Penguin edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude and News of Kidnapping -I extremely fall in love with the edition's cover designs. - Then Panda bought me the Indonesian version of Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor a swap for Goenawan Mohamad's Demokrasi dan Kekecewaan.- The latest addition would be the old Indonesian edition of One Hundred of Solitude published by Benteng (note: long before Bentang Pustaka published their own edition I reckon). As you can witness, there are more to be added -not just Gabo's but books by Saramago, Allende, Llosa, Budi Darma, Shusaku Endo, Neil Gaiman, and more- but I would not push myself off the limits as I believe when the time is right I'll persuade them one by one and at the end of the rainbow they're all would be mine. And I wouldn't care whether they're first edition, rare or simply brand new as what I like to do is to have and to read them so one day I can recite my story finding all these books to my children and grandchildren. And they would do the same to theirs. A family heritage, the books and the story that comes along with them. Like Domínguez quoted in his book:"To build up a library is to create a life. It's never just a random collections of books."I'll build my life with books that represent my soul within their stories no matter in what shapes or genre they are: memoirs, biography, novels, graphic novels, essays, journals, short stories etc. ***Hidup itu sebuah obsesi irasionalSean PennDan menurutku buku ini mengisahkan sebuah obsesi yang sangat tipis batas pemisahnya dengan kegilaan. John Gilkey melihat dunia dengan aturan dan cara main yang dia buat sendiri, peduli setan dengan dampaknya pada orang lain. Aku kagum pada kemampuan penulis menempatkan dirinya di antara dua kunci utama kisah, semua emosi yang dia rasakan terutama keingintahuannya akan perilaku Gilkey (aku sendiri masih menganggap manusia merupakan subjek yang paling menarik). Sulit untuk tidak mengingat buku Carlos María Domínguez yang berjudul The Paper House saat membaca buku ini. Sama-sama berkisah tentang tingkat obsesi manusia atas buku hingga ke tahap paling akut. Dan The Paper House adalah buku yang mengubah cara pandangku akan buku itu sendiri. Sebelumnya aku membeli dan membaca buku secara acak, dan seringnya sih kecewa. Kini aku memulai perjalananku menjadi seorang Bibliophile. Mengumpulkan satu demi satu karya Gabriel García Márquez, José Saramago, Isabel Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa, Budi Darma, Neil Gaiman dan karya penulis lain. Tentu saja proses ini pasti membutuhkan waktu dan dana. Tapi aku tidak memaksakan diri mendapatkan semua karya mereka sekaligus. Aku juga tidak peduli tentang edisi pertama, langka atau edisi terbaru karena bagiku kisah di dalamnya, proses mendapatkan, serta cerita yang melatarbelakanginya itu yang terpenting sehingga satu saat nanti aku bisa mengisahkannya kembali pada anak dan cucuku. Lalu mereka bisa mengisahkannya kepada anak dan cucu mereka. Sebuah warisan keluarga. Seperti kata Domínguez:"Membangun perpustakaan sama halnya dengan menciptakan sebuah kehidupan. Lebih dari sekedar mengkoleksi sejumlah buku."

  • Mike (the Paladin)
    2019-03-16 04:27

    I'm afraid I must admit to a bit of judgmentalism here. I was very annoyed at this book and skimmed a lot. I know a lot of people enjoyed it...but I couldn't help but feel that the author was just too "understanding" of the book thief. I mean we get all this "explanation" on how he dreamed of having this extensive valuable library, of collecting books (and also other things) so, he stole them.Okay, I dream of $1000 suites, $100,000 cars and multimillion dollar houses...maybe plus of course, books. Should I just steal them? Start my own Ponzi Scheme? Rip off some one or some ones who have what I want? I mean, it's okay to just rip off someone who has something you want, right?No, the book follows the "exploits" of our thief and his would be Nemesis, but I couldn't really get into it. It may be more interesting when I'm not so swamped I suppose, but mostly I just skimmed through this one. I'll mention a couple of other things below the "spoiler line" but bottom line, not my choice...2 stars as I skipped along just to get through it. (view spoiler)[There is a telling story from our book thief here, when he was a child he stole a catcher's mitt from the store, upon showing his "new acquisition" to his parents, nothing was ever said. It seems his family "stole" from each other all the time. A lesson to all the parents out there.Maybe this puts this story under the "to understand all is to forgive all" heading, but still it doesn't give carte blanche to our co-protagonist (antagonist?) to continue being a thief. I have screwed up in my life, when I was younger I got into trouble.... I have also had thousands of dollars worth of goods stolen from me in a burglary that (of course) no insurance policy covered. (Vehicle burglarized and tools taken, business ins. didn't cover didn't have the right renters or owners ins. to cover either.) I never got my tools back, I had to start over. You know what, I'm really sorry if the thieves had a traumatic childhood, but it doesn't make up for the loss and I'm really not willing to suffer another loss if they "haven't gotten over it yet".The writer found the thief likable, maybe he is. But I'd have felt better if the guy had managed to have one epiphany. That stealing other people's belongings isn't nice and he ought to stop. I think what pushed me over the edge a bit was when the writer went on a "scouting expedition" with the thief. I mean come on. Our thief even talked about how he "didn't like being in prison" and intimated he had to fight off sexual assault... this was after he'd been inside (and sent back after release) at least a couple of times, you know, there is a way he could stay out of prison...stop stealing. Don't get me wrong, I believe in total forgiveness, it's just that the guy seems to show no remorse at all. Don't let him near your books, or for that matter, trading cards, coins, stamps or any other collectibles. So, 2 stars, just my take on it...if it's your cup of tea, enjoy.(hide spoiler)]

  • colleen the convivial curmudgeon
    2019-03-22 09:22

    The book has a cool premise - following a book thief, trying to understand his motivations and whatnot, and also following the man whose quest it is to stop the thief.And yet... I think it could've been cool as a sort of "based on true story" kind of fiction. I think it could've even worked better if the author wrote it focusing on the people in the story more than herself.See, she spoke a lot about what she did to get the story. The interviews she did, the research she undertook, her ethical dilemmas when the book thief started telling her of some of his crimes... It felt like the book was often more about her and her search than it was about the thief and the "detective". More than that, the writing was circular and repetitive. She would talk about the 'world of literary obsession', give examples of different people's interactions in the world, go on about how she didn't entirely understand it, and a chapter or so later we'd go through the same routine with maybe a few different examples.Similarly with Gilkey, in trying to 'understand his motives'. He didn't seem all that complex - he has a huge entitlement issue, thinks the world owes him, thinks that the world would think highly of him if he had a massive rare book collection, doesn't have the means to do so and, because of his sense of entitlement, rationalizes his thefts as his dues.I mean, Bartlett would pretty much say this in so many words, and then still act like he was this hard to understand figure, and continue to explore his psyche in ever more elaborate circles which all amounted to the same thing.And she seemed to give our detective the short shrift, in general.Overall, very disappointing reading on what could've been an interesting story/topic. I'm only giving it 2 stars instead of 1 because there were some interesting tidbits here and there and I didn't hate it - which is what I usually reserve 1 stars for.

  • Rissa
    2019-03-01 12:11

    This is book porn. Literally the description of books and bindings, first edition and fonts is enough to make a book lover fall even deeped in love with books (which FYI i didnt think was possible).

  • Ann
    2019-02-23 11:09

    Narrative nonfiction books that deal with the more rarified forms of theft (books, art, orchids...) seem to follow a certain template. The author, usually a journalist, describes how he/she first of heard of "the story". He (let's make it a "he" for practical purposes) starts pursuing it with the zeal of Woodward and Bernstein tracking down the Watergate story. The author takes frequent pauses from the story to reflect on his own attitude towards the coveted objects, his tireless pursuit of truth, and the strange way reality and story begin to blend while he struggles to maintain the most stringent journalistic standards. He meets the protagonist (extra points are apparently awarded if interviews take place in jail) and discovers that every villain is being pursued, Javert-like, by a dedicated and usually somewhat maverick avenger. And so it goes here. The story can be resumed in a few lines. A man named John Gilkey stole numerous rare books in the early 2000s by the simple expedient of ordering them over the phone with stolen credit card numbers. His nemesis was Ken Sanders, seller of rare books and head of security of Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, who alerted other booksellers of the thief's characteristic modus operandi. One day, while picking up a fraudulent order, John Gilkey was arrested. The author interviewed him multiple times and came to the conclusions that 1. Gilkey stole rare books because he wanted the patina of elegance, refinement and erudition that a well-stocked library bestows and 2. Gilkey felt no scruples about stealing the books he coveted. Gilkey was eventually released from prison and one wonders whether he will be able to stay on the straight and narrow.That's about it. There's really not enough material here to fill an entire book with. So the author gives us a lot of anecdotes about her own favorite books, some thumbnail descriptions of the book sellers she meets, a handful of historical tidbits about famous booklovers and book thieves, and some musings about ethics (what should she do if Gilkey reveals an hitherto unrecognized theft to her?!). Altogether too thin a story with too much padding.

  • Mahlon
    2019-03-03 08:19

    Allison Hoover Bartlett's The Man Who Loved Books too Much tells the story of John Gilkey, a Narcissistic book thief who uses his job at Saks Fifth Avenue in SF to steal credit card numbers so that he can finance the library to which he believes he's entitled, and Ken Sanders, a rare book dealer turned detective, who is determined to catch him. Gilkey's story is merely a jumping off point for Bartlett however, she uses it to take the reader on a fascinating tour of the world of rare book collecting. Most importantly, she delves into the psychology of collecting, what drives us to collect? why do we collect certain books over others? I felt the weakest part of the book was when Bartlett becomes an actress in her own drama, at one point she accompanies Gilkey back to the scene of one of his crimes to learn how he scouts for books first-hand. She then spends the next few pages wondering whether the trip was ethical. Luckily these ethical dilemma's are only a small distraction in an otherwise strong book.Every Goodreads user will recognize themselves somewhere in these pages, this book makes the perfect gift for all your bibliophile friends :)One of the best books of 2009!

  •  Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ
    2019-03-11 08:24

    edited review:1. I want to apologize for the all the recommendations from me yesterday. I only pressed the send button once--I'm not sure what happened. Urggghh...this is so terrible...Again, I'm very sorry. [image error]Sprange Ben Lend Splotches Abruptly2. gini nih kalo baca ulang. bintangnya harus turun satu. terjemahannya bikin deg-degan. rating tepatnya seh 3¼ [image error]jadi penasaran sama bahasa Inggrisnya [image error]______________________________________________________________Jika Anda pernah mengeluh bahwa sebuah buku pernah membuat Anda rela bergadang semalam suntuk demi membacanya tuntas, menguras semua tabungan masa depan dengan menimbun buku di rak lemari yang bahkan tak mungkin dibaca ulang, atau bermusuhan dengan kawan dekat Anda karena dia merusak/menghilangkan buku favorit Anda, sebaiknya Anda masih harus bersyukur. Daya tarik aneh buku setidaknya belum menjerumuskan Anda pada kegilaan fatal, melakukan tindak kriminal.Seperti halnya buku The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession (kisah tentang seorang pencuri anggrek gila), buku ini juga menceritakan tentang seorang pencuri. Tapi bukan sembarang pencuri... karena ini adalah kisah seorang pencuri buku. Kisah yang dramatis, gila, dan absurd ini bertutur tentang obsesi seseorang yang begitu tergila-gila mengumpulkan buku bahkan dengan cara mencuri, bahkan dari seluruh pelosok negeri... juga ada kisah tentang ambisi nekat seorang kolektor buku yang membanting profesi menjadi detektif amatir untuk menangkap si pencuri.... semua kisah rumit dan aneh ini, akan mempertemukan Anda dengan si tokoh pencuri yang mengundang simpati, dan sang tokoh detektif yang mengundang decak kagum. Bagaimana jerat tipuan dilakukan untuk menipu sang penipu dibuat cermat dan mengejutkan...Dengan detail yang memikat dan riset yang kuat, para pecinta buku akan terjerat dalam sebuah dunia penuh teka-teki yang jenaka, getir, dan pelik, bagaimana sebuah buku bisa menimbulkan ketagihan tak terelakkan dan membangkitkan jiwa kegilaan fatal pada para pembacanya.Anda mungkin menganggap gila si pencuri karena dia nekat mencuri barang "sepele". Tapi begitu Anda melihat buku apa saja yang ia curi--jelas dia tak mencuri buku tulis 2 pack atau novel picisan dari obralan--Anda hanya akan bisa ternganga, kagum sekaligus iri. mungkin dari segi ini Anda bisa memahami, mengapa mencuri hanya satu-satunya cara untuk mendapatkan koleksi buku amat luar biasa ini.Begitu Anda mulai membaca buku ini, Anda tak akan pernah bisa meletakkan buku ini begitu saja... karena siapa tau... ketika lengah, buku Anda dicuri [image error]PS:Saya pernah "mencuri" buku pas masih SD, alias tidak mengembalikan buku perpustakaan, dengan asumsi bahwa saia sangat suka buku ituh dan di perpus pun orang gak membacanya. tapi setelah menemukan kopian aslinya di toko buku, akhirnya dikembalikan... dengan pura2 menemukan buku itu terselip di meja salah seorang siswa [image error]

  • April
    2019-03-22 06:23

    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 here?Read the rest of my review here

  • Truly
    2019-03-10 10:13

    Semua pencuri buku adalah pembohong sejati!Baru kali ini saya menyesal bisa membaca dengan cepat! Walau setiap hari memaksa membaca hanya sekian halaman, tetap saja buku ini selesai dalam hitungan hari. Ceritanya sungguh sayang untuk ditamatkan dalam waktu singkat. Apa boleh buat, lain kali ini ini pasti saya baca lagi, lagi dan lagi. Bagi kolektor buku, buku dinilai bukan dari isinya. Bahkan banyak diantara mereka yang tidak membaca buku koleksinya. Mereka menilai buku dari bentuk fisik, saat penerbitan dan kesulitan mendapatkannya. Sungguh berbeda dengan mereka yang suka membaca, isi adalah segalanya. Gilkey sangat mencintai buku hingga bersedia masuk penjara demi buku. Ketertarikannya lebih karena apa yang disimbolkan oleh sebuah buku alih-alih ceritanya. Gilkey bukan saja tergerak hatinya untuk mencuri karena perasaan cinta terhadap buku. Namun juga karena menikmati rasa kekaguman orang terhadap koleksi bukunya, itulah inti hasrat Gilkey. Baginya buku adalah benda visual, yang tanpak menarik ketika berjajar di rak. Ia memperlakukan buku dengan sangat lembut penuh dengan kehati-hatian. Bagi Gilkey, sebanyak apapun uang yang dimiliknya, jumlah itu tak akan pernah cukup untuk semua buku yang diinginkannya. Kebanyakan buku yang diinginkannya merupakan buku yang masuk dalam daftar seratus novel berbahasa Inggris terbaik abad kedua puluh (novel yang diterbitkan sejak 1990) yang disusun oleh para anggota dewan editor Moderen Library pada tahun 1998Hal ini mungkin juga dialami oleh diri kita masing-masing tanpa kita sadari. Saya pribadi, kadang lebih mementingkan membeli buku, menghadiri bedah buku atau pergi ke toko buku dibandingkan acara lain. Walau keuangan sedang defisit,namun mengetahui ada diskon disebuah toko buku saya langsung bergegas menuju toko buku itu. Setelah pulang dari toko buku, sudah bisa dipastikan keuangan saya kian defisit. Namun rasanya sepadan. Baru belakangan saya lebih bisa menahan diri.Atau cerita sahabat karib saya yang saya temui lewat salah satu milis penerbit. Tagihan kartu kreditnya sebagian besar adalah dari toko buku. Ia seakan meletakkan langit sebagai batasan belanja buku, namun untuk urusan yang lain ia akan meletakkan tanah sebagai batasannya. Ia bahkan mau berbaik hati membuka “Rekening” bagi sahabat seperti saya, yang punya niat belanja buku besar tapi keuangan kecil. Dia bagai malaikat penolong bagi saya dan para sahabat.Kesukaannya membeli dan membaca buku serta lambatnya kecepatannya membaca merupakan keuntungan bagi saya. Saya bisa membaca buku terbaru gratis, tidak gratis juga sebenarnya, saya menunjukkan rasa terima kasih dengan menyampulkan buku yang saya pinjam.Tanpa sadar, saya jadi membenci sekaligus mengagumi Ken Sanders,orang yang bertanggung jawab mejegal sepak terjang Gilkey. Walau saya tahu bahwa yang dilakukan Gilkey adalah kesalahan besar, namun sebagai seseorang yang mencintai buku, saya bisa memahami mengapa ia berbuat begitu. Untuk itu saya membenci Sanders yang membuat hidup Gilkey menjadi merana. Di sisi lain, saya mengagumi kegigihannya membantu para pedagang buku antik menyelamatkan buku-buku mereka dari tangan yang tidak bertanggung jawab semacam Gilkey. kecintaannya terhadap buku, membuat Sanders merasa buku harus diperlakuan dengan istimewa, termasuk cara memperolehnya.Walau berkesan berat, namun buku ini juga memberikan banyak cerita-cerita segar. Misalnya saat Gilkey meminta ayahnya mengambilkan buku yang dibelinya, membayangkan ketegangan yang dialaminya serta kelakuan saat akhirnya sang ayah datang dengan membawa buku pesanan. Atau mendengar Gilkey menggerutu saat mengetahui banyak buku di perpustakaan yang hilang dicuri. Ia dengan marahnya mengomentari bahwa mencuri buku di perpustakaan adalah pencurian, sebuah kesalahan besar, lalu yang dilakukannya bagaimana?Membaca judul buku In Cold Blood dan The Profesor and The Mad-man yang tercantum dalam buku ini membuat saya meringis. Maklum kedua buku itu sudah saya jadikan modal saat mengikuti bookswap. Padahal edisi asli buku ini ternyata berharga cukup mahal. Memang yang saya punya adalah edisi terjemahan namun edisi terjemahan pertama. Siapa tahu beberapa tahun kedepan juga berharga mahal. Duh... jadi musti berhati-hati kalau ikutan bookswap.Buku ini juga memberikan tambahan pengetahuan seputar buku. Saya jadi tahu bahwa ”Papan” adalah istilah yang digunakan untuk menyebut sampul. Saya lebih mengerti kenapa banyak sahaabt saya yang menolak membeli buku dengan menggunakan kartu kredit Juga mengenai berbagai macam tipe pencuri buku. Dalam situs ABBA ( Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America), Asosiasi Pedagang Buku Antik Amerika disebutkan ada 5 tipe pencuri buku. Yaitu: Kleptomania yang tidak bias menahan diri untuk mencuri buku; pencuri yang mencuri demi meraih keuntungan, pencuri yang mencuri karena marah; pencuri biasa; pencuri yang mencuri untuk digunakan sendiri. Saya jadi berpikir, jangan-jangan tanpa sadar saya juga pernah “Mencuri” Masuk kategori yang mana yah….Paragraf yang paling saya sukai dari buku ini, merupakan ungkapan dari Winston S. Churchill. Tapi... berhubung terlalu panjang, silahkanc ek di halaman 105.

  • Anne
    2019-02-25 04:22

    The title of this book is a bit deceptive. I set my expectations very high for a book about, well, a man who loved books too much. The man in question, John Gilkey, is a narcissistic sociopath who doesn't read books other than those which teach him about rare books and how to steal them. He has no interest in books for the sake of any personal meaning they might have for him. "Collecting" books is Gilkey's means of feeling important in the world, for gaining self-esteem. For him, rare books equate wealth and high social status, neither of which he has. Since Gilkey's self-esteem is so poor, his remedy, stealing rare books, gives him only fleeting satisfaction and a boost to his self-esteem. Hence, he can never stop stealing.This analysis is what I gleaned from the book. The author sees Gilkey as akin to other collectors who actually pay for their books. This is true to some extent, but I would have appreciated a more thorough understanding of this man, with whom she spent hundreds of hours over the course of two years of research. In the end I was a bit underwhelmed by this book, but it is still a fun and informative read about the rare book trade and one man who preys upon it. The best parts of the book center on Gilkey who is a lesson in the audacity and self-delusion of narcissistic sociopaths. Because of the attention Ms. Bartlett pays him, he tells her details about his crimes, revealing also his self-serving rationalizations for stealing. His most common rationalization was that life was unfair - he had no books, while the rare book dealers had so many. By stealing he was only righting this wrong. He also believed that these dealers, whom he had stolen from, might want to give him books so that he wouldn't have to steal them. "It couldn't hurt to ask," he states. One of my favorite quotes from Gilkey comes towards the end of his association with Ms. Bartlett. He knows, of course, that she is writing a book and he makes a suggestion: "I was thinking maybe at the end of the book....and I think it's a perfect ending, if the people who read it want to donate a book to me to keep me out of jail or something."3 1/2 stars

  • Ali
    2019-03-18 04:17

    Disaster!...I gave up any hope to get through the debris of this book after about 20% of it.What a pity. What sounded like a brilliant idea, turned out to be quite a boring read...Random dropping of titles of the rare books and bits and bobs of history did not do any favours for the book.It is just not for me.

  • e.c.h.a
    2019-03-02 05:17

    OK...jadi begini ceritanya kenapa buku ini hanya cocok mendapatkan bintang 2 dari saya.Saat pertama memegang buku ini, jujur saya berharap lebih untuk buku ini. Ingin tahu seberapa besar tokoh-tokoh di buku ini mencintai buku. Tapi kok setelah membacanya, yang ada saya menangkap mereka semua ini tidak cinta buku yah? Atau....mereka mengartikan "cinta" terhadap buku dalam pandangan yang berbeda dengan saya yah?Saya melihat mereka semua seperti ter-obsesi, hanya mencari keuntungan dari sebuah buku-buku langka. Yah..setidaknya dari sini saya jadi paham kalau buku bisa jadi "aset" juga.Ada sisi baik dari buku ini buat saya yaitu buku ini memberikan banyak informasi mengenai dunia literatur yang notabene belum saya pahami sangat fasih. Saya dapat ilmu dari buku ini, pengetahuan yang tak ternilai di mata saya.Saya setuju dengan salah satu pernyataan di buku ini, bahwa seseorang mengoleksi buku karena membeli kenangan bukan cerita dalam buku itu. Yup, saya mengalami ini, mengoleksi beberapa buku hanya karena saya mempunyai kenangan indah terhadap buku tersebut. Kenangan itu lha yang membuat sebuah buku menjadi mahal..bukan ceritanya tetapi kisah yang mengiringi buku itu...

  • Sweetdhee
    2019-02-25 05:13

    Dia GAK CINTA buku sama sekali!! Huh!!! Apanya yang Loved the Books Too Much?Apa?Alasan Gilkey mencuri buku-buku itu cuma pengen pamer, cuma obsesi memiliki perpustakaan seperti orang-orang kayaDia baca ga tuh buku-buku?Cuma satu, Lolita!!Sisanya?Tapi suka banget sama narasi nya Allison (eh, ini bisa disebut sebagai narasi ga sih?).Gara-gara nemu buku langka Krautterbuch, Allison menelusuri jejak Ken Sanders sang bibliodick (penjual buku yang merangkap detekfif) dan John Gilkey, sang pencuri buku yang menurut saya GA CINTA buku sama sekali.Udah, gitu aja reviewnya.Masih sebel sama Gilkey dan judul buku ini.Juga sama kolektor-kolektor yang cuma beli buat dipajang.Cinta, katanya?Bah!PS: walaupun dulu saya dan keluarga tidak terlalu berkecukupan untuk bisa membeli buku-buku seperti yang saya ceritakan di sini, rasanya saya belum pernah ada keinginan mencuri buku. Mungkin karena saya ga tega mengambil sesuatu yang saya yakini berharga bagi pemiliknya.

  • Bill
    2019-03-21 10:26

    Fascinating book about the true story of John Gilkey who over a period of years stole many valuable books, mainly from rare book dealers, usually using stolen credit card numbers. In some ways he was quite ingenious, but the most amazing thing is he really felt no guilt at all.In fact he really deserved these books as far as he was concerned and actually felt the book dealers were to blame for him not being able to afford them. Quite a reprehensible character...in my opinion anybody who steals books should be shot...and at the end of the book he is out of prison and stealing books again.He didn't seem to realize, or care for that matter, that most book dealers, rare or otherwise, barely manage to make ends meet.You only have to look at the huge number of used book dealers who have gone out of business in the last 10 or 20 years. It's very sad.Everybody on Goodreads should read this book as it gives many insights into the rare book business.

  • Moira Russell
    2019-02-24 11:58

    Well, this guy didn't love books "too much," or indeed at all apparently; he didn't even like to read. He fastened on books purely as a cultural status symbol and that was it. Nevertheless, an interesting portrayal of a fascinating con man, even if told in near-enervating prose.

  • Amy
    2019-02-24 07:08

    My mother and I share and talk about Books. We like a lot of the same, and enjoy a great share and discussion. I love to be a mini eavesdropper on her book group and have never felt I have found quite the book group of my own. I talk about books with Melissa, who loves historical fiction, with Elizabeth who loves fiction, Betsy who loves good writing, and Samantha who loves a good story. I read some of Hoffman's Ritual and Spontaneity in the Psychoanalytic Process with Jane, and a book comes alive in a particular way when you read it together. With NECET, I read Winnecott's Playing with Reality, and Bromberg's Standing in the Spaces. I think this is why I love the fellowships I do so much, reading beloved articles together.Back to the book I am reviewing, I loved the line where she says that a collector says "I only collect books that have changed lives," referring to how rare is decided subjectively, and how collections are born, created and sustained. I loved that line, as I feel that way about the many books I have kept. If they kept me company, stimulated my imagination, touched me, or transported me to another place, I have kept them. Oddly enough, since my love affair with the library began, I now "keep' them through writing these reviews, my one public format blog offering to an otherwise private internet identity. As I've said, books are conversation, imagination, memory, history, and story - they are so much more to me. I read and thrive on reading, the way others do with exercise. Some say, I love to read, I just don't have the time. If you love something, I think you make time - truly. I vote with my feet, or my clicks as the case may be. I could as easily say, I love to exercise, but I don't have the time. And that is reflected in my body (of knowlegde too) as well as my library. One last idea, I wondered what each of us theive - the meaning of the man's choice of books nd of books themselves became revealed, but like we are collectors of so many things other than books, I wondered what we theive - treasure? Is it time, youth, trust? Can one argue that therapists are theives of stories, of souls? It made me think. We are defined by our stories, our collections, our myths, also our theivery, our secrets, and our fantasies. On pg 258 she answers this, however. She decides she is not a theif, she is a "borrower of a book or of a story." I guess with that, so am I. As a now library book borrower, and a therapist, in many ways, I am both too. My patients stories live within me, as they grow, touching me just as my precious books do. Funny that my clinical notes actually live in the same place. Tons of history of relationship, imagination, change, and love. Anyway, now reading next three, this tells you something about me - The Space Between Us, whuc Melissa lent me, my mother and Jennifer Harter loved, (she and I talk about books too.) Also, Jodi Piccoult's newest, House Rules which my mother is going to lend me for the exchange of the Wrong Mother, by Sophie Hannah, and a re-read of Harry Potter 7, so I can go see the movie, part one, at the IMAX with Elizabeth and our hubbies, with whom we saw the first three or four movies together. Happy Reading, and Happy New Year. With love and imagination, Amy

  • Lauren Stoolfire
    2019-03-08 05:05

    When it came time to choose a book about books for the third task of Book Riot's 2017 Read Harder Challenge, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett came to mind immediately. I've had my eye on this for a while since I started noticing it coming and going from the library quite a bit in the last few months. I have to say that this nonfiction book lived up to my expectations - it's tells the tale of John Charles Gilkey, a man who has stolen hundreds of thousand dollars worth of rare books from all around the country - not for the money, but for his love of books. It also features Ken Sanders, the bookseller who took on a detective-like role to catch the thief. My favorite aspect of this book is how the author went about putting together their story - in a way, she's right in the mix with Gilkey and Sanders in the middle of all of it. Honestly, as a book lover I might have been a smidgen jealous of Gilkey getting his hands on all of these. Me, though, I would never take it to such extremes!

  • David
    2019-03-09 09:25

    Generally I'm a sucker for books about books, so I expected to like this more than I actually did. But, although Allison Hoover Bartlett writes well, she never quite managed to convince me that this book was anything other than a magazine article that got out of hand. John Charles Gilkey, the serial book thief at the center of the story, is not completely dull, but he's not as interesting as the author seems to believe and certainly not interesting enough to warrant a 250+ page book. I think that the time and energy Bartlett spent in researching the topic caused her to overestimate its general appeal. She's not the first non-fiction writer to fall into that particular trap, and I'm sure she won't be the last. (A tip to all non-fiction authors: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. If you notice that you are starting to a take a prominent role in the story, it's a dead giveaway that your story may be getting away from you. In olden days there was this priesthood of people known as editors who would step in and point this out to you, to save you from yourself. Sadly, this kind of editor (intelligent, engaged, firm) appears to have gone extinct, so let me say this explicitly here. If you're writing non-fiction, please stay out of the picture. Repeatedly insinuating yourself into the narrative will not make me like you more - instead it's likely to reduce the quality of your reporting and irritate the hell out of most readers. So, unless you're Richard Feynman, resist the temptation to make yourself a character in the narrative. We all have a boundless need to be liked; please don't pander to yours by gatecrashing your narrative). Allison Hoover Bartlett's failure to resist this temptation weakens this book significantly, though not fatally. The failure of the book to ignite my interest stems from something that was essentially beyond the author's control. The problem is that John Charles Gilkey's kleptomania is the only faintly interesting thing about him, and it's not as fascinating as you might think. According to the jacket blurb, "Gilkey steals for love -- the love of books". This is accurate, strictly speaking, but it's also highly misleading. His obsession centers only on books as status objects and has nothing whatever to do with their intellectual content or with the joy of reading. He could just as well have focused his energy on stealing collectible paperweights. Or Pez dispensers. The realization that Gilkey steals books, not because he wants to read them, but because he thinks they will enhance his status, is ultimately what made this book fall flat for me. Despite Bartlett's borderline obsession with her subject, for me the book amounted to little more than a meandering account of the petty misdeeds of a small-time, singularly uncharismatic, drifter. When the account eventually just petered out, it came as a relief.I'm making it sound worse than it is. Bartlett writes fluidly and the story is not completely without interest. It was just far less interesting than I'd expected

  • Elizabeth (Alaska)
    2019-03-22 05:58

    I needed to read something completely different, and somehow stumbled across this title lurking on my shelves. By no means is it a perfect book. It is written in journalistic style and I wouldn't categorize it as either poorly- or well-written. It might easily have had other titles:The Obsessed: Rare Book Dealers, Collectors and ThievesThe World of Rare Books: Dealers, Collectors, ThievesI think the author might have organized it better. She sometimes lost the chronology of her story, and in doing so she wandered off into the wider world of rare book collecting. To me, this was both its weakness and its strength. Just past halfway was this quote which, though it wasn't a fair I came to see, matches my attraction for the book:I love to read books and I appreciate their aesthetic charms, but I don't collect them; I had come to this fair to understand what makes others do so. I wanted a close-up view into the rare book world, a place where the customs were utterly foreign to me.I found this world fascinating, as did the author. It was apparent she had done a lot of research and it's always possible I'll find myself reading about it again.

  • Anita Dalton
    2019-03-06 11:05

    This book engrossed me for reasons I did not anticipate when I started reading it. The story of this particular book thief is not as interesting as some other book thieves of whom I have read. John Gilkey, who remains unrepentant concerning his thefts of rare books from dealers, may one day become a man who steals rare books from libraries, as the book indicates he may be doing right now, but his thefts were more prosaic: He stole credit card numbers during his job as a retail clerk and used the stolen numbers to purchase books. He had an element of brazenness about him as he would go into the stores after calling in an order, posing as the “friend” of the purchaser, and pick up the books, but overall, his thefts lacked the sort of derring-do of those who steal from archives and libraries. How he did what he did and how he got caught are not the most interesting parts of this book. Read the entire review here.

  • Jason Pettus
    2019-02-21 05:15

    (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted illegally.)I've been wanting to read Allison Hoover Bartlett's 2009 The Man Who Loved Books Too Much for quite a while now, mostly because of its subject matter: a journalistic expose of John Charles Gilkey, a mentally ill obsessive who stole hundreds upon hundreds of rare books over a period of just a decade or two, not for monetary reasons but so he could build the most impressive private library in history, Bartlett's book switches effortlessly between his individual story and a larger look at the habit/profession of book collecting in general, a subject that regular readers know is dear to my heart. (My latest acquisition -- a first edition of Gore Vidal's 1973 Burr; paid two bucks, worth fifty!) And indeed, although you should keep my biases in mind, in my opinion this turned out to be one of the better "NPR-worthy" nonfiction books I've ever read; thrilling, informative, good for beginners but also for experts, Bartlett even pulls off the rare accomplishment of successfully enfolding her own personal issues into the overall narrative (that is, the issue of her subject confessing lots of crimes while in the process of compiling this book, and what her moral obligations were as far as alerting the victims of these crimes); and in fact, I think it's no coincidence that Bartlett specifically mentions both Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City and Susan Orleans' The Orchid Thief as two big influences on her own work, in that all three can be held up as shining examples of 21st-century long-form journalism at its best. A book that's hard to put down once you've started (so thank God it reads so easily and quickly), this comes with a huge recommendation to all kinds of people, from my fellow bibliophiles to true-crime fans, those fascinated with obsessive mental disorders, and more.Out of 10: 9.7

  • Andrei Tamaş
    2019-03-08 10:22

    O scriere infantila, imaginara si dusa intr-atat la extrem incat a devenit ridicola...Doua stelute pentru ca nu pot suferi dezamagirea Alexandrei, de la care am primit acest volum cadou.