Saturday, February 13, 2010

Book Review: The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett

"For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner...let him be struck with palsy, and all his members blasted...Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, and when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him forever."
                    -Anathema in a medieval manuscript from the Monastery of San Pedro in Barcelona

I work in the local county library, and whenever there is a new book that's about books, it usually catches my eye and I can't help but want to read it. So when a co-worker told me about this one, I was hooked.

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary ObsessionThe book is about a man who steals books from rare book dealers. He is pursued by one of those dealers who considers himself to be a literary detective of sorts. A magazine writer gets involved and many interesting things happen as they try to track down the thief and retrieve the stolen books. At one point, the man actually confesses his crimes to the reporter (who is also the author of this book), which puts the reporter in quite a moral dilemma: should she keep the confession to herself, or call the police and turn the crook in?

Full of stories about the rare book trade and those who are obsessed with collecting them, this book will enthrall many readers who love books and understand the compelling "need" to own them. I highly recommend The Man Who Loved Books Too Much.

Someone once questioned Winston Churchill: "What shall I do with all my books?" He replied: "Read them. But if you cannot read them, at any rate handle them, and, as it were, fondle them. Peer into them. Let them fall open where they will. Read on from the first sentence that arrests the eye. Then turn to another. Make a voyage of discovery, taking soundings of uncharted seas. Set them back on their shelves with your own hands. Arrange them on your own plan, so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are. If they cannot be your friends, let them at any rate be your acquaintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition."

Now, THAT's a bibliophile!


Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict said...

Adding to my tbr list now....sounds like a book I would really enjoy!

hopeinbrazil said...

Sounds like a fascinating book. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.