In the High Peaks

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

What an arresting title! When I discovered Allison Hoover Bartlett's book on one of the "Best Books of 2009" lists, I immediately entered it in my "WannaRead" file on my computer.

I would describe The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession as a thoroughly delightful, yet cautionary romp through the world of rare books.

I've always enjoyed reading about rare book collectors and dealers. Although I own hundreds of books, less than a handful would be considered "rare" by book dealers. And that's fine with me.

That said, I do, however, have a fascination for books that reveal the mysterious and eccentric world that rare book aficionados inhabit. Another universe, indeed!

Bartlett provides a marvelous travelogue of her journey to this world and describes how it operates and its players. In addition to the background, she focuses on the story of one elusive book thief, John Gilkey, including his methods, his history, and the fact that despite multiple imprisonments, he's unrepentent and out there continuing his "lifestyle" today.

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