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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Book Review: The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

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
Genre: Non-Fiction
Release Date: September 17, 2009
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover
Pages: 288
From: Publisher

Summary: 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 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.

My Review: When I was first contacted to review The Man Who Loved Books Too Much I was really excited. The summary seemed action packed and I could relate to the love of books. However, this book just fell short for me. I enjoyed the narrator, but I hated the constant mention of literature. Almost every page had at least 2-3 mentions of books, where's the bottom footnotes when I actually need them? I didn't enjoy looking for the notes in the back every time they mention a book in italics. However, the storyline was interesting and sometimes I'd forget this was a true story. Gilkey was one smart thief and I enjoyed picking his mind and the chase to catch him. Overall, this book reminded me why I don't read non-fiction, but, if you do like reading that type of genre, then this book would make a good read.
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Author's Info:
Allison Hoover Bartlett is the author of The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession (Riverhead Books, September 2009). She has written on a variety of topics, including travel, art, science and education, for the New York Times, the Washington Post,, San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, San Francisco Magazine, and other publications. Her original article on John Gilkey was included in the Best American Crime Reporting 2007. Bartlett is a founding member of the writing group North 24th and works at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto, a collective studio. Bartlett has a B.A. in English literature from UC Santa Barbara and lives in San Francisco with her husband and two children.

For more info on Allison, visit her website:


Falling Off The Shelf said...

I was contacted about reviewing this one, but I have so many others to read that I turned it down. It also didn't sound like something that I'd be interested in reading, and from the looks of your review I was pretty right!

Thanks for the wonderful review!

Mariah said...

This book sounds really interesting. I have heard the same things you said about it on other blogs but it still intrigues me!

Sarbear said...

That's too bad -- sounds like it's still worth a read though.

austenfan said...

The concept sounds good but I don't think I'd enjoy this one. Thanks for the review! :)

Sassy Brit said...

This is another one I keep looking at, and I am interested to see how it works for me, it is rather alternative, after all :)

Raspberry said...

Thanks - this looks like my kind of deal. :)

dentistry in Sydney said...

Its nice review. This sounds very interesting. Wanna to read this.

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