The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett

man who loved books too muchThe 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.

Read an excerpt of The Man Who Loved Books Too Much.

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.

Read about how she got her start.

Other reviews:
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12 responses to “The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett

  1. The footnotes/endnotes thing is a knotty problem. I like footnotes better in that they’re easier to read quickly – because I can’t see a note and not track it down – but they also take up a lot of the page sometimes and make it less aesthetically pleasing.

    I really want to read this!

  2. I do love those books with the special paper! I can see your issues with author insertion. It’s distracting even when you understand the motivation.

  3. I keep going back and forth about whether or not I want to read this one. I’m sure I’ll pick it up eventually, but I don’t think I’m going to make it a priority quite yet.

  4. I’m so with you on the footnotes/endnotes thing.

  5. I’ve read several reviews of this book and I’m on the fence about it. I don’t like endnotes either.

  6. I have this one on the TBR shelf.

  7. I don’t get attached to books at all…I’ve moved too much to want to continue packing them up!

    Still, I love books about books, so I might have to give this one a try.

  8. Love the title. Sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the review, I’m going to check it out.

  9. I totally agree about endnotes. I want to read the note without flipping pages. I certainly collect a lot of books but I plan to read every last one of them. I can’t imagine using up shelf space for a book you don’t want to read.

  10. I’m with you about endnotes vs. footnotes!

  11. I have this one on the shelf and havent read it yet. Of course the title is what sold me….LOL

  12. Pingback: Review: The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

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