BOOK: The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession
AUTHOR: Allison Hoover Bartlett
First of all, I can't think of a more appropriate title for me (as someone who has been accused on a number of occasions of loving books too much). I saw it and immediately had to have it. And thank God I did.
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is simultaneously a deliciously captivating caper and a meticulously researched exploration into the obsessive world of the rare book market. Bartlett's tale is ripe with examples of what happens when a love of books takes a sinister turn. In The Man Who Loves Books, we follow the unrepentant book thief Gilkey around the world as he steals thousands upon thousands of books. Over the course of the book we follow Gilkey in and out of jail (a consequence he sees as a minor roadblock and does not phase him in the least) and listen as he lets us into his world - where everything he does not only makes sense, but is completely justified. Perhaps, the most interesting facet of Gilkey's personality is that he does not steal these books for profit; he cringes at the very thought of parting with his finds. He simply Loved Books Too Much.
While following Gilkey, we gain access into a section of the population mostly unheard of: Bibliophiles. I personally had no idea that a whole world of literary obsession existed all over the nation. Through fascinating interviews and first hand experience, Bartlett takes us into the hard of rare book trading. We learn how to tell an original from a first edition. We learn the importance of book covers and the ways the less scrupulous taint with them to fool perspective buyers. We see that this is not simply a minor subset of nation, but a market that is taken very seriously and is highly profitable. I know that I walked away vastly more educated and dying for more information.
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is a immensely entertaining look into a market most are unaware of. I would recommend it to all - but especially to those who understand on the visceral level the true love of books.