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Books

3.19  ·  Rating details ·  2,013 ratings  ·  463 reviews
McMurtry, who wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for Brokeback Mountain, returns with a fascinating and surprisingly intimate memoir of his lifelong passion of buying, selling, and collecting rare and antiquarian books.
Hardcover, 259 pages
Published July 8th 2008 by Simon & Schuster
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Christine Jeffords No, mainly it's about his experiences as what we used to call an "antiquarian bookman"--a buyer and seller of rare books. However, I did come across a…moreNo, mainly it's about his experiences as what we used to call an "antiquarian bookman"--a buyer and seller of rare books. However, I did come across a few titles that I might *want* to read. And, as with every book in the known universe, your mileage may vary.(less)

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Average rating 3.19  · 
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 ·  2,013 ratings  ·  463 reviews


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Diane
Mar 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
...more
Bill
Apr 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Lobstergirl
Dec 19, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Erik
Dec 06, 2009 rated it liked it
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
...more
Nick
Jul 04, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Michael
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
...more
Noninuna
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.8 🌟

I found this book accidentally when I was browsing my library for a memoir to complete a reading challenge. I was intrigued by the description. Well, it's titled Books: A memoir, I couldn't simply put it back on the shelf! The opening lines pulled me in and I was hooked.

I don't remember my parents reading me a story - perhaps that's why I've made up so many. They were good parents, but just not story reader."

The author tells the story how he got his first book and what it meant to him. He

...more
Jacki Leach
Jul 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Simon Robs
May 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Larry McMurtry author of some thirty or so novels, 10-15 non-fiction and a handful of memoirs (one of which is this book) WAS for most of his writing life a committed "book scout" and antiquarian bookseller. This book chronicles THAT, his book scouting/buying/selling years which, sadly it seems mostly come to its conclusion, though some semblance of "Booked Up" his final destination bookstore still exists in my [greater] backyard of Archer City, Texas. I need to nip out an have a look-see at wha ...more
Jim
Nov 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
While McMurty is one of my favorite writers (especially for his Lonesome Dove), this volume was not as enjoyable as expected, though there are nuggets that interested me, probably because I am a bookseller too, and love books besides. Basically a collection of casual vignettes concerning his lifelong passion for bookselling and scouting. It was somewhat "off-the-top-of-the-head" remembrances of specific purchases and insider commentary on other notable booksellers. It certainly will not appeal t ...more
Ambrose Miles
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
BAM the enigma “Ask me if you need help with a book”
You know, I hate you, McMurtry. You can buy ALL DA BOOKS and I have to go to the library. I give you a raspberry. Shut it! I don't want to hear about your 28,000 book collection or your constant acquisitions anymore. ...more
Cathy
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.
Gregory
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Suzzanne Kelley
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 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
Richard
Jun 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
...more
Trin
Sep 06, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Bill
Jul 10, 2008 marked it as to-read
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
...more
tortoise dreams
I've never read McMurtry's books but picked this one up because ... y'know, books. Subtitled "A Memoir" it rambles and wanders as he relates a life in the book buying and selling business. He seems a little melancholic and enervated. He was 72 when it was published and it feels like an end of life work (though he's still living). He describes his early introduction to reading in a non-reading family and his early days as a writer, but mostly it's anecdotes about buying and selling antiquarian an ...more
Sarah
Apr 27, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Becky
Jun 30, 2016 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!
Charlsa
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a memoir of Larry McMurtry's life primarily as a seller and collector of books. He weaves in his experiences as a writer of both books and a adapter screenplay writer. He intertwines the stories of the characters, locations, and events in his life that ended up in his books.

It's also interesting to read about how serious book collectors and booksellers curate their collections. I came away with a list of books I now want to read based on his discussion of them in this book.
...more
Shivesh
Sep 17, 2008 rated it liked it
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
...more
Juliana
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
...more
Katie
Feb 26, 2010 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
Jeffrey
Sep 14, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Living in New York City, you wouldn't think that I would have to cross the Hudson River to visit my favorite second hand bookshop, but in fact I do. Nor would you think that that same used book store happens to be a large suburban Barnes and Noble. Many a crusty bookseller will, of course, consider such a confession something of a sacrilege, while for the more casual bibliophile there may be some confusion: about six Barnes and Noble stores around the country, an employee at their headquarters t ...more
Edwin Arnaudin
Aug 06, 2008 rated it liked it
More like "Bookdealing: A Memoir." In what was hyped by Entertainment Weekly's summer book preview as the author reminiscing about the books that influenced him most, McMurtry instead spends the majority of this text writing about his experience as a antiquated book dealer.

These memories are often esoteric and dull, since the names of his acquaintances mean little to the reader. Only occasionally does McMurtry make his occupation sound appealing enough to pursue (or even listen to someone talk a
...more
Linda
Jul 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Kelly
Nov 14, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: memoir
Larry McMurtry is one of my all-time favorite authors, but Books: A Memoir was pointless and just plain awful. I picked up the book thinking that it would be about books that influenced him or the books he has written, but instead it is almost entirely about his work as a scout, purchasing books and searching for rare editions of books. It was like reading a book about someone else's flea market trips. ...more
BJ Rose
Oct 10, 2010 rated it liked it
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. ...more
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Larry McMurtry was born in Wichita Falls, Texas on June 3, 1936. He is the author of twenty-nine novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove, three memoirs, two essay collections, and more than thirty screenplays.

His first published book, Horseman, Pass By, was adapted into the film "Hud." A number of his other novels also were adapted into movies as well as a television mini-serie
...more

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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.” 10 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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