A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict
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A Pound of Paper: Confessions of a Book Addict

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  351 ratings  ·  47 reviews
In the rural Australia of the fifties where John Baxter grew up, reading books was disregarded with suspicion, owning and collecting them with utter incomprehension. Despite this, by the age of eleven Baxter had 'collected' his first book - The Poems of Rupert Brooke. He'd read the volume often, but now he had to own it. This was the beginning of what would become a major...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 1st 2005 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 2002)
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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
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
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.
Evan
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.
Maggie
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
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 2 of 5 stars
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
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...more
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...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘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...more
S.
Jul 27, 2011 S. added it
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...more
Dale Houstman
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
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
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
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...more
Voss
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
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
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
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
Frankie
May 24, 2008 Frankie rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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
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.
Harlan Wolff
If you love books, especially old ones, this is a book for you. John Baxter takes the reader back to the beginnings of what can only be described as a fetish for old sci-fi printed matter. As a compulsive buyer of books I enjoyed sharing the author's journey. Maybe not for everybody but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Sarah
I quit because Sara Nelson's So Many Books, So Little Time was so catastrophically much better that Baxter should start researching traditional methods of honor preservation through death or mutilation. I'm not even going to address the possible gender bugabear here, except to say chalk one up for our side.
Susan
Some very interesting stories about book collectors and the author's own experiences with collectors and dealers. Criticism: too much discussion of films and film making; he, after all, claims to be a book addict right in the title. I expected to read about books!
Amanda
Another book lover's memoir of books! Baxter's is an interesting read not because of his thoughts on particular books, but because of the insight he gives on the book collecting world and the random stories he tells of people he's met in the book world.
Mike
Aug 21, 2007 Mike rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Booklovers
John Baxter grew up in out back New South Wales in the 1950's. He tells in a most entertaining way how outback boredom led him to read and collect science fiction comics and started him on a journey around the world following his pasion, books.
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What's The Name o...: memoir about book collecting [s] 4 30 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...more
More about John Baxter...
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