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Books: A Memoir

3.14  ·  Rating Details ·  1,437 Ratings  ·  343 Reviews
"In a prolific life of singular literary achievement, Larry McMurtry has succeeded in a variety of genres: in coming-of-age novels like The Last Picture Show; in collections of essays like In a Narrow Grave; and in the reinvention of the Western on a grand scale in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Lonesome Dove. Now, in Books: A Memoir, McMurtry writes about his endless p ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Simon & Schuster (first published 2008)
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This is another book that I wanted to love, but it disappointed me. It started off promising enough, with McMurtry waxing nostalgic about the books he read as a kid in the 1940s and 50s, but it quickly devolved into bland stories of name-dropping in the bookseller business and listing how many thousands of dollars of books he bought from so-and-so. (In addition to being a prolific novelist, he also owned a bookstore for many years.)

While there were a few fun anecdotes and I gathered a sizable li
A scattered set of essays about books, how the author learned to love books, but also about book collecting and book-selling.

Now I can't say I disapprove of the topic, just the execution. Many of the essays are scattered and wander off. He doesn't even bother to look up details or even check his own library for citations. I'd feel skittish even if I wrote a Goodreads review with that sloth.

I can't fault him too terribly, though. There's too much to write, or even just to read.
for some reason, this book got quite a few poor reviews and ratings on goodreads. i, on the other hand, thought it was great. there is nothing i like reading better than memoirs, anecdotes etc. about book selling and book buying. and this book is literally full of them. mcmurtry has spent almost 50 years in the book business, and although he is mainly famous to most people for his writing, he considers the book business to be his primary occupation.

probably the most amazing thing is that his own
This is kind of a stream-of-consciousness memoir about McMurtry's bookselling career; it's choppy and fragmented (some of the chapters are half a page long) and feels like it was typed up and taken directly to the printer. The early chapters covering his life in Texas and various antiquarian booksellers he did business with in California were rather boring, but I became interested when he began discussing the bookstore he co-owned in D.C., which oddly enough I had never been to, though I have sh ...more
Jul 25, 2008 Nick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Without having read a review of this book, I expected it to be an intellectual autobiography in which McMurtry discussed the books he loved, hated, was influenced by, could never finish, and so on. Instead it was about McMurtry's book business: the buying and selling of books that he's done for decades as the owner of a bookstore. If you want to read about characters in the book trade, professional and nonprofessional buyers of books, some great purchases and sales that McMurtry's experienced al ...more
Jacki Leach
Jul 13, 2008 Jacki Leach rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Book lovers and book sellers
Recommended to Jacki by: I found it on my own!
I love Larry McMurtry's stories (especially the westerns), but it's always nice to learn about what makes the author 'tick'. 'Books' is interesting, and the reader learns a great deal about bookselling (not the typical retail type of bookselling), bookdealing, and bookscouting. If you don't have a great love of books (I don't mean just the contents), some of the chapters might go over your head. He writes about the deals he's made, the people he sells to, the whole operation of the used book tra ...more
Dec 06, 2009 Erik rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Books: A Memoir, by Larry McMurtry

Being a bit of an amateur bibliophile – I would never deign to put myself in the same class with folks like McMurtry and his wife, who together have owned several bookstores in their time – I jumped at the chance to immerse myself in McMurtry’s book lust. The best chapters are in the beginning, where he recounts his childhood in the waning years of the Great Depression and with the onslaught of WWII. Perhaps it is just the poignant childhood nostalgia that sucke
Nov 03, 2011 Bill marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
A book for book lovers written by a book lover

Books is a memoir that traces McMurtry's life stages through his relationship with books--thousands and thousands of them, those in the library of the university he attended, those in his personal library (upwards of 30,000 volumes) McMurtry's Books uses stories about book-collecting, book-selling, and book-enjoying as milestones for his autobiography. His memoir not only tells us something about his own life,. In "Books: A Memoir" (259 pages), McMu
I really wanted to love this book. This started so promising, explaining how the author fell in love with books. But then it turn in some sort of business description and it lost me.
Larry McMurtry is known for his novels Terms of Endearment and his 1985 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove, among many other things. But what people might not know about Larry McMurtry is he is also a rare-book scout. Owning many second hand bookstores called Booked Up, McMurtry is always on the hunt for good books. Book is a memoir of adventures as a book seller.

Let’s face it, I love a good book memoir so I thought I had to check this one out, but I’m a little disappointed. At times in
May 01, 2010 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010-reads
I went through a Larry McMurtry phase when I was in early adolescence, so I was kind of absently stoked to read this. Then I read it, and let me say this: I've not had a reading experience like it. If you'd like to be bored to a point where it almost becomes interesting again -- fixed with a boredom that is nearly awe -- you may want to think about reading about McMurtry's life not as a writer (or even, really, as a person per se) but as an antiquarian "bookman" (the title becomes a lot less nea ...more
You will never guess what this book is about! Okay, fine, it’s about McMurtry’s second career as a bookseller and book scout. The emphasis is really on the minutiae of the bookselling biz—details about McMurtry’s life or his writing are scarce. He skips around a lot, too, both in time and in subject, so one short chapter may follow on another short chapter about something completely different. Thus it is not a particularly focused or well-organized book, though I still found it a charming one. B ...more
Suzzanne Kelley
Jan 24, 2015 Suzzanne Kelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-publishing
Subtitled as a memoir, Books (Simon and Schuster, 2008), is about McMurtry's love of all things book. He tells of his first book collection (19 titles in a cardboard box, gifted to him as a youngster) and the impact it had on him as a reader and later collector. As an editor and publisher and McMurtry fan, I found his book about books most interesting. McMurtry is a self-taught expert in the business of being an antiquarian bookman. His narrative--delivered in brief chapter spurts of sometimes l ...more
Jun 30, 2010 Richard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Possibly entertaining mostly to people who love books, bookstores, and booksellers. I love all three (well, books, and bookstores more than booksellers.) It's really a collection of anecdotes about finding, buying, and selling with a look at the eccentrics and eccentricities of the trade. I have to add, I really love Larry McMurtry, and re-read Lonesome Dove every five years or so - same with watching the mini-series which I consider the best thing ever made for TV.

Here's one reason why I love M
Jun 30, 2016 Becky rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I did not finish this and I was disappointed. Although the author talked a little bit about how books influenced his life since he was young, I felt like it was more about his book buying habits and book businesses. He threw some names here and some names there without elaborating much, then suddenly began a new chapter. Each chapter in this book is around 1.5-2 pages long (my copy was library hard cover) - weird!
Mar 10, 2015 Alline rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
OMG. What the heck is this god-awful piece of drek? Did aliens kidnap Larry McMurtry and channel a bunch of nonsense through him? This book is just an unreadable mess - jumps from one thing/time to another for no reason, and is so arrogant and oh, I don't even know what else to write. I am SO disappointed. I love Larry McMurtry, I love books, and I love his store in Archer City. But this book? Nope. It's a leaky vessel...
Mar 04, 2010 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting something very different than what I got from Larry McMurtry’s BOOKS. I was expecting a memoir chronicling his love of books. And, to some extent, this was provided – but it was too personal. McMurtry’s love of books rests mostly in his love of being a book collector/buyer/trader. In addition to his professions as author and teacher, he was also a book buyer, venturing around the nation, and even the world, to find collectible books. In theory, this would make an exciting memoir. ...more
Jan 17, 2013 Gregory rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I suspect that most readers of this book will come to it through the author's fiction writing. His fans will be interested in McMurtry’s "other life" as a book scout and bookstore owner. Perhaps such fans will be interested into this window on the author's thoughts and experiences. I came to the book through a different route, as a consumer of biographies and memoirs of book people and tales of the book trade (yes, there is such a literature). From this perspective, I found the book to be very p ...more
Oct 01, 2008 Shivesh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: book fans, collectors, antiquarians
Larry McMurtry is one of those rare authors that snatch your eyes whenever you pass his books in the library or bookshop, because you will always remember one of this works fondly. I read 'Lonesome Dove' earlier this summer and watched the miniseries too. The book has ranked in my top 5 ever since I finished it and I doubt it will be displaced any time soon. So when I saw 'Books: a Memoir', it was worth a read, just out of respect for the guy, a true legend in American literature.

Well, needless
Jun 12, 2011 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This simply-written book discusses Larry McMurtry's complusion to own books. It is a fun read and a gold-mine of information about the antiquarian book trade; people who have owned fabulous collections of books; being a book scout; bookstores and McMurtry's creation of a "book town" in Archer City, Texas. (Plus some tidbits about Ken Kesey.) In Archer City, McMurtry has bought several old buildings and houses to display/honor his vast book collection. He still trades, buys and sells books, from ...more
Aug 27, 2016 Bookworm rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Of interest if you're a book shop owner/book buyer. Perhaps better known for his other works of 'Lonesome Dove', co-authoring the screenplay for 'Brokeback Mountain', McMurtry tells the tale of his relationship to books. Specifically, his years as a book buyer/scout, bookshop owner, how he came to love books, etc. We get a short overview of his early years when he learned to read, grew to love stories and books, his education, etc. The book is mostly about his career regarding the purchase or bu ...more
Aug 10, 2016 Steven rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Begins well—story of country boy without access to books, and who made it to the age of eight or ten before realizing there was such a thing as stories that were not “true.” That is, the future Pulitzer-prize winning novelist was able to read for years before he wrapped his mind around the idea of fiction. But once he discovered books, novels, cheap cowboy thrillers and the like, he was hooked, obsessed even.

McMurtry’s story as an adult held less interest for me. I just could not appreciate the
Ambrose Miles
Jan 18, 2015 Ambrose Miles rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Books is a book about books, book stores, dealers, buyers, scouts, occasionally writers and a little about Larry McMurtry. The book gives me a bit of book fever, makes me want to run out to every yard sale and book store within a hundred mile radius. However today is Sunday, late afternoon. It is raining, but it is about to turn to snow. So here I am listening to Neil Young's Storytone and writing a review about Books. Did I mention this was an excellent book? It is.
I enjoyed this series of short little essays and remembrances by author and bookseller Larry McMurtry on his relationship with books. This book is less about his reading and more about a memoir on his career as an antiquarian collector and bookseller. But I do like in his introductory chapters he explains how he had no books as a child until a cousin dropped off a box on his way to enlist in WWII. (So important--make sure the children have access to books!)

Some have said this book was disjointed
Derrick Jeter
Larry McMurtry is known as a novelist, most notable for his Pulitzer Prize winning novel "Lonesome Dove." What many don't know is that he is also a bookman -- an acquirer (not collector, in his own words), reader, and seller of books. His Book Up in Archer City, Texas (his home town) carries over a hundred thousand volumes ... all for sale. His love of books is behind his book "Books" -- a book about books.

The subtitle, "A Memoir" is a bit misleading. Many may think this volume is a memoir of a
Setting aside the decidedly not SEO-friendly title of this book ("What are you getting at the library?" my boyfriend asked me. "Books," I replied. "Well of course you're getting books!" "No, I'm getting a book called Books!") the actual content of the book is all over the place. It is written in a stream of consciousness style, with very short chapters (none more than 4 pages that I saw, which is why there are 109 of them), and at some places seems poorly edited. It is a fast read; I finished it ...more
Jul 10, 2014 Coyle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In McMurtry's hands, "Books" takes a subject that most people care absolutely nothing about--that is, the selling of rare and expensive books--and turns it into a fairly quick and innocuous read.

And, well, that's the best that can be said about it. Lucidly written with short chapters, other than the occasional personal reflection or comment about a usually-not-very-well-known personage, there really isn't much here of interest. Again, it is well written and by no means painful to read. I just ca
BJ Rose
This was not at all what I was expecting, but I learned several interesting things I did not know before, so that made this a worthwhile read. I did not know that McMurtry was an antiquarian book lover who spent decades buying & selling and collecting rare and unusual books - this is a guy who loves books! And I did not know, for example, that McMurtry's first book - Horseman, Pass By - became the movie Hud, starring Paul Newman.
Paula Dembeck
Larry McMurtry is a man fascinated with books, but this wasn’t always so. He grew up in what he calls a “bookless home” in rural Texas and was never read to as a child. The stories he heard as he sat on the front porch in the evening, were just the casual bits about the family or the neighbours. Despite the references of visiting cousins to characters such as Mopsy, Flopsy and Cottontail, McMurtry was only just beginning to understand that stories could be about things that were not real. It was ...more
What a fun read. The acclaimed author of "The Last Picture Show" and "Terms of Endearment" has written a fun account of his life in the world of books. He tells interesting tales of book reading, book collection and book stories, in addition to taking the reader along as he revisits favorite bookstores and book sellers. A wealth of great anecdotes and experiences. A must for book lovers of all stripes.
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Larry McMurtry is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two collections of essays, and more than thirty screenplays.

Among many other accolades he was the co-winner of an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for Brokeback Mountain in 2006.

Larry McMurty was born in Wichita Falls Texas in 1936. His first published book Horseman, Pass By was
More about Larry McMurtry...

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“Most young dealers of the Silicon Chip Era regard a reference library as merely a waste of space. Old Timers on the West Coast seem to retain a fondness for reference books that goes beyond the practical. Everything there is to know about a given volume may be only a click away, but there are still a few of us who'd rather have the book than the click. A bookman's love of books is a love of books, not merely of the information in them.” 5 likes
“Today the sight that discourages book people most is to walk into a public library and see computers where books used to be. In many cases not even the librarians want books to be there. What consumers want now is information, and information increasingly comes from computers.
That is a preference I can’t grasp, much less share, though I’m well aware that computers have many valid uses. They save lives, and they make research in most cases a thing that’s almost instantaneous.
They do many good things.
But they don’t really do what books do, and why should they usurp the chief function of a public library, which is to provide readers access to books? Books can accommodate the proximity of computers but it doesn’t seem to work the other way around. Computers now literally drive out books from the place that should, by definition, be books’ own home: the library.”
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