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A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict

3.52  ·  Rating Details  ·  461 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
Enter the totally addictive world of book-collecting.

Welcome to the gimlet-eyed, detail-crazed world of the fanatical book collector -- not just the kind who buys at auction or from catalogues -- but also the sleuth, the type who uses bluff and guile to hunt down his quarry.

Meet a cast of eccentric collectors such as the one who only collects books about suicide or by writ
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Hardcover, 417 pages
Published January 28th 2003 by Doubleday (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,338)
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Al Bità
I think a number of people (myself included!) might have thought that this would be a book about literature — but then I also later realised that the title (A Pound of Paper) and its subtitle (Confessions of a Book Addict) did not really promise that at all. Instead, what we have here is a kind of biography by ex-patriate Australian John Baxter, which deals specifically with the author’s addiction to book collecting! And what a strange and disturbing world it is! Anyone interested in this subjec ...more
Elizabeth
Oct 11, 2009 Elizabeth rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
Though chock-full of entertaining anecdotes, this book never successfully got past the somewhat pretentious and egotistical personality of its author. In fiction (or even more "objective" non-fiction) this might fly, but when you're reading a memoir of sorts, it's always equally important to like the writer as much as his subject. As for his subject, when Baxter stuck to talking about books and his collecting hobby, he was at his best. It was both entertaining and informative to hear about his c ...more
Gerry
Feb 26, 2009 Gerry rated it it was ok
Seduced by the exotic sub-title 'Confessions of a Book Addict', I fully expected a book crammed with stories of book buying, book collecting and reading so it was disappointing to find all sorts of other less interesting reminiscences filling the pages. Rather like the curate's egg, I therefore found it 'good in parts' but pretty ordinary in others. The blurb on the dustwrapper is also somewhat misleading because that indicates that the subject matter is primarily book related - not so! The end ...more
Tim Weakley
This was a far more interesting read than I thought it was going to be. A meandering look at the seamy underbelly of the book collecting world. It was a lark to read some of the descriptions of the ways in which he would get inscriptions for his collection. I also really enjoyed the descriptions of the characters he came in contact with. Maybe I enjoyed this more than some of the reviewers because of my part time job in a used bookstore. It gave me a little bit of empathy.

Good all around for me.
Cailean McBride
I'm not sure why this book gets such a lot of negative reviews. Yes, it gets rambling towards the end. I wasn't that interested in the writer's domestic bliss in France and I suppose there is an element of hubris in the fact that Baxter thought his life was so fascinating that it merited this volume.

However, there's lots to like here. It's on the whole well written and there are lots of interesting anecdotes contained within. I could have quite happily done with a bit more of the ins and outs of
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Rob Neyer
This book isn't really about an addiction to books; rather, it's the memoir of an Australian with literary ambitions who wound up London and Virginia and Ireland and Los Angeles and Australia again and finally Paris ... with bibliophilia as a touchstone throughout.

Baxter is articulate and literate and met any number of interesting writers over the years, but this isn't really that sort of book, either.

Which leaves one to wonder just what sort of a book it is. And I suppose it's all of the above
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Evan
May 02, 2014 Evan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although rambling and repetitive at several moments, this memoir flows well from topic to topic in what clearly is the style of life from the author, full of many passions that are come and go in enthusiasm or concentration. Written full of facts and fun without demeaning readers and writers different than the author, this memoir has successfully managed to make literary obsessions a pleasant read. The difference between this memoir and those of Adam Gopnik is a lack of self-importance and a lac ...more
Hulananni
Had to plow through this. The title intrigued but the minutiae slowed me down.
Bess Eckstein
Let me start off by saying 2 things - 1) I *love* books about books, and 2) I did finish the book.

However... I was disappointed. I was really looking forward to reading about the author's travels as a collector - books he coveted and how he got them, the personalities he met along the way. This was much more autobiographical than I expected, and quite honestly, I could have cared less about his childhood in Australia, his work with the railroad, etc.

Gave it 3 stars because I did finish the damn
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Bev
John Baxter's A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict is a deceptive little thing. I went in expecting a book about books and about someone with an all-consuming passion for books. Which this is...more or less. Actually more less than more. This is a far cry from 84, Charing Cross Road or The Yellow-Lighted Book both books that wonderfully represent the book lover and collector and their relationship to the printed page.

Baxter takes us on a meandering tour of his life--long, boring bit on
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Kiwiflora
The dictionary very simply sums up a bibliophile as someone who likes reading and/or collecting books. But as any serious reader/book person will tell you, that word sums up so much more - mooching around in bookshops both old and new, finding 'finds' again old and new, stacking them on the shelf read or unread in a certain order peculiar to only you, or occasionally discarding. Then there are those who buy and sell books - old, new, rare, out of print, autographed, penned, dedicated, good or ba ...more
Ciara
Jan 25, 2009 Ciara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: science fiction super-nerds, swotty book collectors, guys in ascots who claim to have read "ulysses"
this john baxter character grew up in australia & got really into sci-fi in the 40s, when he was still a kid. & true to the form of just about every nerdy kid who gets into sci-fi, he becomes a book-ish type who is really obsessed with the minutiae of his particular interest. he grows up & spends some time working on the railroad in australia, bringing books with him to various rural outposts, trying to find the time to visit his local sci-fi discussion club, penning the occasional s ...more
Sillyhuron
Sep 30, 2012 Sillyhuron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh how I loved this one...
On collecting - "It's not enough to succeed; your best friend must fail"
On Brian Aldiss - "An H.G Wellsian visionary reborn as a modern Peter the Hermit on speed"
On American TV and Radio book presenters - "The stock phrase "I haven't had a chance to finish your book' means they haven't read it or, probably, seen a copy. Possibly they may not know how to read".

John Baxter's wild and wooly life story zooms from lending libraries in 1950's Australia ("the old joke 'Let's
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Cathy (Ms. Sweeney)
I truly enjoyed the first third or so of this book. I enjoyed the end of this book. Which does leave a portion of the book that just came across as a bit much when it came to name dropping and certain life experiences that might have been better shared in a different memoir. Which made it a somewhat disappointing read by the end.

Reading about the author's discovery of a stack of scifi magazines in a friend's garage in Australia when he was a boy was fascinating and reminded me of my joy at first
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Jennifer (JC-S)
Feb 05, 2011 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Books are forever, but book people change and none more so than the London runners and dealers who became my friends.’

John Baxter grew up in rural Australia during the 1950s, and found that reading books was not highly regarded. Owning and collecting books was by no means a common pursuit then either, but this didn’t stop John from developing a passion for books, and their ownership, which has grown through obsession into a major collection.

I don’t completely share the obsession, but I love rea
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S.
As a lazy bibliophile, I’m sucker for books about book collecting because it’s easier to read than do it. So I read John Baxter’s A Pound of Paper. I think I prefer Larry McMurtry’s Books, but Baxter’s book has a nice light conversational tone and a European/Australian angle that’s worth the reading…if you care about those rectangle things that used to be all the rage with readers.

I say that I’m a lazy lover of books and not just reading. In fact I don’t care much for reading. But books as arti
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Dale Houstman
Jul 22, 2013 Dale Houstman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, memoir
I've read several of John Baxter's books now, and find them enjoyable and intelligent journeys through several subjects: Paris, film, science fiction, and here through the world of the book collector - AND Paris, AND film, AND science fiction. I have read many books on the subject of books themselves, and on the very act of reading, and did not expect one on collecting to be of remarkable interest. However, as we experience the eccentrics that dot the field, and stray amiably and effortlessly in ...more
Edwin
Nov 04, 2013 Edwin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, books
An interesting read. It's a sort of memoir by an Australian who's saved from suburban drudgery working as a railway clerk by his love of writing science fiction and collecting SF magazines. After ten years on the railways, he chucks it in and moves to London where he becomes involved with the bizarre (and frankly shady) world of book collecting. He becomes a broadcaster, spends a year teaching in an American college, and ends up in Hollywood. At the end of the book, he's moved to Paris with a ne ...more
Denise
Feb 06, 2010 Denise rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I almost quit reading this a couple of times but then I would give it a few more pages and it would get kind of interesting again so I plodded through to the end. The beginning of the book was interesting and the end of the book was interesting, it lagged for me in the middle. (And since it is a 416 page book there is a lot of middle!) I really like books about books and books about people who love books. This book doesn't even compare to 84, Charing Cross Road or The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop, bo ...more
Kirsty
Jul 15, 2007 Kirsty rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I don't understand the collecting mentality because I don't understand the point of owning objects for the sake of it. why have a book if you're not going to read it? parts of this book were confusing to me, as I just didn't understand the logic behind the collecting mania.

I found Baxter irritating. perhaps he's a big name in the book-collecting world, and feels he can be as conceited as he likes. I am unfamiliar with the book-collecting world, so wasn't impressed by his name-dropping.

despite th
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Voss
Dec 17, 2014 Voss rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Le eroicomiche avventure di uno schiavo del collezionismo e dei libri :) e di altri che frequentano i bassifondi della lettura
Kathleen Dixon
Aug 20, 2014 Kathleen Dixon marked it as didn-t-finish  ·  review of another edition
I found this well-written and entertaining but not compelling enough when I have a lot of other books to read.
Mary Kenyon
Nope, this book did not live up to either the beautiful cover or title. I love books and I love paper, so I was drawn to this book, but very disappointed. There are very few books I do not finish, but this is one.
Marg
Jan 09, 2011 Marg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a book lover, it was a trip down a familiar path. Where not all of us obsess and track a particular copy of a particular title, the passion he has for the printed word - and the tactile pleasure of holding a book previously held by the author - is something most passionate readers can understand. The serendipity of finding a treasure in an unsuspecting place is an all too human pleasure and who doesn't enjoy the "find" every so often? The name-dropping was not intrusive for me and, all-in-al ...more
Maggie
Feb 15, 2015 Maggie rated it it was amazing
The book that made me love reading about books. I originally borrowed it from the library and was so happy to find it in a used bookstore 4000 miles away and 6 years later. I really enjoyed it this time too although the people who collect books as objects rather than those who collect them to read do baffle me. Maybe it's my lack of shelf space or funds. Anyway, even if I don't care to own modern firsts and instead but penguin paperbacks of the same books, I love reading about how collectors fin ...more
Rebecca
This was interesting. The things I didn't know about books...

He talks about fiction, non fiction, collections, erotica, and skin covered books. It was basically the story of his life, intertwined with different books and different book focuses.

You can tell he is pasionate about the subject, but at times it could drag out a fair bit.

If you like to read and have always had books in your life give it a go.

SBC = Audio book
Barbara
Jul 27, 2015 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in one day. If you like digging through dusty boxes of books in independent book stores then you will love this. I kept a notepad near me to jot down some "oldies but goodies" because Baxter is a treasure!

I definitely recommend this if you like to read older books (by older I mean anything from the 1800's to 1969) or so.

enjoy!
Frankie
May 24, 2008 Frankie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: book collectors, or those who want to be...
I really did enjoy this book. It teaches the reader a lot about book collecting. The plot development is weak, but the few digressions are forgivably brief. The blur between nonfiction and fiction is mildly disconcerting, if that sort of thing bothers you.

Overall, it made me wish I had the inclination and money to take up rare book collecting.
Jack Coleman
Mar 09, 2011 Jack Coleman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Biography of a life in books,collecting,writing and critique of film.
Interesting insites about growing up in Australia.
Library read.
The cover page induced me to pick this book up.
Quote from Groucho Marx: "Outside a dog, a book is man's best friend.
Inside a dog its too dark to read."
Patrick
Jul 21, 2007 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like this, I also recommend Nicholas Basbanes's AMONG THE GENTLY MAD, both of which I picked up at the Huntington Library in Pasadena.
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What's The Name o...: memoir about book collecting [s] 4 31 Nov 25, 2011 02:34PM  
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John Baxter (born 1939 in Randwick, New South Wales) is an Australian-born writer, journalist, and film-maker.

Baxter has lived in Britain and the United States as well as in his native Sydney, but has made his home in Paris since 1989, where he is married to the film-maker Marie-Dominique Montel. They have one daughter, Louise.

He began writing science fiction in the early 1960s for New Worlds, Sci
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More about John Baxter...

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“Having access to the library was all well and good, but as a collector you had to own the book.” 1 likes
“The whole point of collecting is the thrill of acquisition, which must be maximized, and maintained at all costs.” 0 likes
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