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 (Riverhead Books, September 17, 2009), 288 pages
The title of this book is great, isn’t it? We readers, we do love books.
I loved that for a book about rare books, obvious care was taken with details about the physical book — thick paper, the deckle edge of the pages (well, it might just be trimmed instead of cut, but there seems to be some gray area there).
I wish the writer wasn’t so involved in the story itself. It’s all academic in form — endnotes (I like footnotes so much better, am I alone in this?) and all, very formal — but the writer inserts herself into the pages. I can understand this later in the book, but I wonder why she didn’t at least open the book with herself outside the story. I felt like this took away from the main characters she was trying to portray. As she inserted herself and her thought process into the book’s pages, I also felt like she over elucidated. When there’s a logical progression of thought, I, the reader, can follow those steps. I don’t need someone to spell it all out for me. And sometimes I actually get frustrated by the speller — it takes a lot of time, when I could otherwise be moving forward.
I did learn a lot from this book. I learned about the world of rare books. I learned about collecting and collectors.
As much as I say I love books — and get excited when I get bookish packages in the mail and am sometimes disheartened by a lack thereof — I can’t imagine stealing books. Or even collecting rare books. I’m in it much more for the stories. To have books I felt like I couldn’t read? Heartbreaking. As much as books are tangible objects, and I love their physical form, they’re still, first and foremost, vehicles for story to me.
Allison Hoover Bartlett works at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, a collective studio. Bartlett has a bachelor’s in English literature and lives in San Francisco with her husband and two children. Her original article on John Gilkey was included in the Best American Crime Reporting 2007.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave me a link and I’ll add it here.
I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.