Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett

I just finished reading The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession on the Bookophile's recommendation (Oddly, it isn't one of the book's she's reviewed yet).

I find we disagree on it.

I liked it and thought it well-written; certainly it withstood the inevitable comparison to Orchid Thief considerably better than I had expected. It does a superb job of showing the author's growing fascination with and involvement in the story. It also does a credible job of portraying the various people involved in the rare book world, particularly Sanders, the book store owner and bibliodick and Gilkey, the con man and book thief.

What it never quite did, despite the title and despite Bartlett's statements, was convince me that Gilkey loves books. He loves the good life, he's quite oblivious to any reason why he should not steal to have it, and he steals books as one part of that desire--books, but not only books; he also steals rooms in hotels, meals at restaurants, and a number of other luxury items. So, where Orchid Thief convinced that Larouche, however, briefly, truly did love orchids, this book is about a thief, not a bibliophile.

The world of the book-sellers was more interesting, but much less explored.

So--a good book, but not a great one.

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