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The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession

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Set within the world of rare-book collecting: the true story of an infamous book thief, his victims, and the man determined to catch him.

Rare-book theft is even more widespread than fine-art theft. Most thieves, of course, steal for profit. John Charles Gilkey steals purely for the love of books. In an attempt to understand him better, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged herself into the world of book lust and discovered just how dangerous it can be.

John Gilkey is an obsessed, unrepentant book thief who has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of rare books from book fairs, stores, and libraries around the country. Ken Sanders is the self-appointed "bibliodick" (book dealer with a penchant for detective work) driven to catch him. Bartlett befriended both outlandish characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure. A cat-and-mouse chase that not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes, where he stashed the loot, and how Sanders ultimately caught him but also explores the romance of books, the lure to collect them, and the temptation to steal them. Bartlett looks at the history of book passion, collection, and theft through the ages, to examine the craving that makes some people willing to stop at nothing to possess the books they love.

274 pages, Hardcover

First published August 1, 2009

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About the author

Allison Hoover Bartlett

1 book112 followers
Allison Hoover Bartlett is the author of the national bestseller, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession. She has written on a variety of topics, including travel, art, science and education, for the New York Times, the Washington Post, San Francisco Magazine, and other publications. Her original article on book thief John Gilkey was included in the Best American Crime Reporting 2007, and the book was selected for Barnes and Noble's "Discover Great New Writers" program. Bartlett was named a San Francisco Library Laureate in 2010 and is a founding member of North 24th Writers. She and her husband have two children and live in San Francisco.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,204 reviews
Profile Image for Jeffrey Keeten.
Author 2 books247k followers
May 31, 2019
This book belongs to none but me
For there's my name inside to see.
To steal this book, if you should try.
It's by the throat that you'll hang high.
And ravens then will gather 'bout
To find your eyes and pull them out.
And when you're screaming
"Oh, Oh, Oh!"
Remember, you deserved this woe.
---Warning written by medieval German scribe


Fortunately for me I live in the part of the world where people can not conceive of a book being of a value worth stealing. Thieves here are more interested in cash, and flat screen televisions than say a first edition of Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.

This is the story of the rare book dealer, Ken Sanders and his search for the book thief John Gilkey. I have issue with the title The Man Who Loved Books Too Much. I'm a bibliophile and suffer from bibliomania, but I would never, ever steal a book because for me ownership is directly tied to the fact that I paid for the book. There is no ownership, merely possession if an object is stolen. Gilkey felt that because he could not afford the books that he was justified in not only stealing the books, but stealing credit cards to use to purchase the books. The only victims as he saw it were the "rich" rare book dealers. He came up with elaborate schemes to put booksellers at ease enough to filch their books, and at the same time went to great lengths to not be recognized.

 photo KenSanders.jpg

Ken Sanders, a collector and rare book dealer out of Salt Lake City, started to notice a pattern in book thefts across the country, and put together a network through the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America to try and warn dealers about the rash of stolen rare books and thus the first biblodick was born. This story is about John Gilkey and Ken Sander's detective work in bringing him to justice. It is too bad that John Gilkey, to some degree, achieved the fame he wanted through the writing of this book, but without him the efforts of Ken Sanders could not be lauded.

I have some respect for those book thieves that steal because they have a love of rare books. John Gilkey stole rare books because he perceived the ownership of rare volumes to equate with the respect he craved. He wanted people to come over and be impressed by the rare books on his shelves and see him as an educated, smoking jacket wearing, bourbon drinking, blue blood aristocrat. He was never any of those things. He was just a man who did not want to work for a living and yet wanted to own the finer things in life, not because he loved those items, but because he wanted to be perceived as someone who owned those fine objects.

The moments when the author stepped into the book annoyed me. In fact if she had not done such a wonderful job of interviewing the rare book dealers and conveying their views and life, I would have rated this book much lower. When she would sit around and whine about not really understanding book collecting, I would find myself grinding my teeth. I was starting to question if she was really the right person to tell this story. Luckily those moments involving the author were few and far between, and frankly could have been left out of the book.

It has been many years now since I used to work a booth at the San Francisco Book Fair, but it brought a smile to my face whenever she would mention a name of a rare book dealer that I had the pleasure to meet. This is a book for book people, but also those that enjoy a real life detective story.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,517 reviews10.8k followers
November 14, 2011

Ahhhh...books. They are wonderful...especially books about other books. Even better are books about books that are rare and valuable. These books give me the happies.

There were chunks of this story that serenaded my growing bibliomania off its feet like Cyrano de Bergerac beneath Roxane’s window. I love books. I love them for their minds and I love them for their bodies and over the past few years, I’ve begun collecting first editions of my favorite novels. I get tremendous enjoyment from it as I am a collector at heart, like my recent acquisition of a signed, 1st of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter and Perdido Street Station (both on my all time favorite list). *does quick happy dance while thinking of them*

So when the true-crime story, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, details the book thief, John Gilkey, walking through rare book shows (something I have yet to do) and describing beautiful first editions of works like:
H.P. Lovecraft’s The Dunwich Horror,
H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds,
John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath,
Vladimir Nabakov’s Lolita, and even
Dr. Suess’ The Cat in the Hat (worth over $8500 by the way), my collecting cockles warmed and my chops salivated as my insides revved up and headed for an earth-shattering bibliogasm.

Yeah...its a problem. There were definite waves of envy and lust that washed over me and I can certainly understand the tug of need for acquiring such rarities. Heaven for me would certainly include a number of large buildings filled with

That’s the good part of this story.

However, apart from the incredibly compelling and O-O O-face causing recitation of rare first editions and their stratospheric prices, the balance of the book was really Meh to average at best. The writing isn’t bad, but it comes across like by the numbers journalism, which decently conveys information but very little else. It’s all surface. No emotion, no insight, no depth...just the facts ma’am.

That was not my biggest problem, however. For me, that dubious honor goes to the main character, John Gilkey. This waste of breath is a scummy, narcissistic sociopath who defines the term disprickable asstard. He is as unlikeable and repugnant a non-violent criminal as you are likely to come across.

This guy remorselessly steals valuable rare books from mom and pop book dealers who can barely make ends meet and considers it his right to do so because “it is unfair that I can’t afford them on my own.” Are you kidding me, you psychotic nutbag? He continuously points the finger at everyone but himself and says that he is forced to steal because the mean dealers make the book “too expensive” for him to afford otherwise.

Now, being so smitten with rare books (as I’m sure many reading this are as well), you might think that John would find a sympathetic ear was those who “share his love” for books. No, he’s an asshole. A major asshole. A Major General asshole in the Army of Assholes. He steals things and he hurts good people in the process.

He’s a worthless human stain.

Even his love of books is deformed. He doesn’t even read them or have any interest in reading them. They are just some twisted “self-centered” mechanism to make himself feel more refined and classy. His reason for “owning” them is to be able to appear as a gentlemen. “Hey, I own a rare book, aren’t I cultured.” The guy makes my stomach turn like a pinwheel in a hurricane and all I could think was how violated I would feel if any of my favorite books were stolen.

Okay, let me briefly summarize the book before my rant against Gilkey goes nuclear (sorry if I’m too late for that). The story details the author’s interviews with Gilkey who, for some reason or another, opens up and describes his history of book theft. He explains how most of his crimes were perpetrated using bad checks and stolen credit card numbers that he obtained working retail.

We learn of his childhood and how his family were a bunch a thieving scumbags as well and how it was his love of comic-books that got him interested in books and book collecting. One other thread of the book follows Ken Sanders, a rare book dealer and amateur detective who is the volunteer security chief for the ABAA (the Antiquarian Booksellers of America). Ken knows Gilkey is scum and is trying to bring him back to justice when he steals again.

Overall, if you are fascinated by the rare book world and love to read about valuable editions, this is worth a read. It’s for that reason that I am calling this an “I like it” though just barely. If it wasn’t for that, this would be just another two star earning mild disappointment.

2.5 to 3.0 stars. Recommended (for bibliophiles and bibliomaniacs).
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,686 reviews14k followers
February 27, 2018
It is always hard for me to not find something fascinating in a book about books. This was a whole new world of books in which I was introduced. Those who collect, sell and yes steal them. A completely different mindset they have, collectors and thieves. I love books but except for a few gorgeous old copies of a few, I am a reader, not a collector. Neither have the time, passion nor money.

We are introduced to Sanders, an avid collector, owns a book store that sells regular fiction as well as first editions and other rarities in this rarefied book world. We are also introduced to Gilkey, a man who is knowledgeable about books, loves them, wants them and will do anything to aquire them. These two men are opposite end of the book collecting spectrum, or are they? Gilkey basically steals his books, using whatever means are available to him, has spent months in jail for theft, but seems to be unable to stop. Actually seems to feel he is entitled to these books, he is obsessed and obtuse. As I said a whole new mindset is what I discovered within, passion and entitlement.

I did enjoy reading this but there was quite a bit of repetition, felt some points were belabored, again and again. It was, however, a good introduction into a world I had little previous knowledge of, though I do believe this would have made a better long magazine article, rather than a book.
Profile Image for astried.
699 reviews83 followers
May 19, 2010
I wanted to like this book, but I can't. I thought it would be a story about a man who loved book too much, but it wasn't. Sure, he wanted books so much that he stole it, but not because a book contains story. He only stole it because he thought wealthy people should have an imposing library, because first print books have high monetary value. It's like treating book like Prada bags or whatever other silly wealth symbols. I never could understand the power or need of marked merchandise and it annoyed me seeing books, a thing I love, treated as one.

Of course this is not the author's fault, after all she was only stating the fact. However how she presented her story bothered me too. For the whole span of the book she was so bewildered that this man has so little moral in him to steal *gasp* books! She couldn't grasp this idea of immorality and kept on pushing forward people who also loved books but didn't steal, which gets pretty stale midway of the book. On the other hand she didn't have any problem understanding that Gilkey used stolen money for a nice high-life holiday or two, which led me to believe that what Bartlett couldn't grasp was not his lack of moral but his target, books instead of jewel or sport cars. I could've told her not to bother thinking about it so much, obviously Gilkey treated books as monetary valuable goods and source of prestige, so why not books? He would've done the same had his fancy was taken by jewelry or cars.

So, my last grudge with this book is his method of stealing. I was imagining a daring operation involving breaking in a shop, library, highly secured museum... He could've at least stole it during open hours right in front of shop owner's nose hiding it inside his sweater... But no,it was credit card fraud *yawn* (I'm sorry, does this count as a spoiler?) I'd rather read more about this other guy who burnt down a house and killed 4 people to have the book he wanted. This book is truly a let down and dissapointment for me.
Profile Image for Forrest.
Author 46 books693 followers
April 11, 2014
As both an undergraduate and graduate student, I had a penchant for spending time in the rare manuscripts rooms at both BYU and University of Wisconsin-Madison. While my studies in African History did require me to spend time there to peruse books for research, I enjoyed taking time to thumb through (with gloved hands, of course) everything from medieval manuscripts to pioneer journals to (my favorite) the entire selection of Yellow Book Quarterly, which had nothing at all to do with my research. But hey, I paid tuition (still am, thank you student loans), so I figured I could go in and read what I liked, so long as I left things undamaged and unsoiled by my grubby hands (hence the gloves). But I never once thought of stealing any of these books. Part of it was my conscience (I consider myself an honest person and I hate, hate, hate people who lie a lot), and part of it was security measures put in place to discourage temptation and crimes of opportunity. Now, having done a little writing myself, I know how much work goes into writing a book, let alone the outrageous consumption of time and materials that must have gone into books in the early modern era. Old books are treasures. They should be kept that way: safe and secure.

But there are people out there who will steal such books, usually, I am told, to resell them for profit.

But John Gilkey was is not such a man.

The title The Man Who Loved Books too Much would lead you to believe that Gilkey bought rare books with other people's credit card information because . . . well, he loved them. But the author shows that Gilkey stole rare books because he loved himself too much.

A few reviewers have rated this book poorly because they find Gilkey's acts reprehensible. Yes, they are. The man is a selfish slouch with a sense of entitlement that would give Ronald Reagan heart attacks. But I rate books solely on the book and whether or not it was successful. And here, I have to say . . . "meh".

Bartlett is a journalist. I'll admit to not having a very high opinion of most journalists (especially since I ran for local political office years ago and saw, firsthand, how they distort people's words to suit their own need for "the story"), but I thought I'd give her the benefit of the doubt. The whole schtick of the book - book thief, book detective, literary obsession - seemed very interesting.

And it was . . . until Bartlett decided to put herself in the book. I found the story of the book thief and his pursuit compelling reading. I was fascinated by the internal workings of the rare book industry.

But then . . . well, Allison, things got weird between us. You started wondering if you could get into the thief's head and went on and on about your involvement with the case. You forgot that there needs to be some element of objectivity in a journalistic piece and you questioned this very simple assumption. You did a layman's psychological self-examination of yourself and laid it all out for the reader. Only this reader didn't want it. The story was enough in itself. I loved the story. I don't know if the editor applied pressure, thinking it would sell more books or if you just needed the filler or what, exactly. But sometimes it's best to quit while your still ahead. Or, better yet, quit before you inadvertently shine the spotlight on yourself.

Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,026 followers
November 25, 2018
"Collecting is like a hunger, and having one more book doesn't quench the longing for another."

I rediscovered this book on my shelves when I reorganized everything and thought it would be a good choice for the "true crime" part of the Reading Women Challenge. It is an interesting peek into the world of book collectors and book thieves, and the author had a lot of face time with a notorious thief who never stays incarcerated for long.
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,734 reviews1,200 followers
May 12, 2013
I’d wanted to read this book since it was first published (I first learned of it, and Gilkey, from one of my local independent bookstores), and so I was grateful when my real world book club decided to read it.

It was not exactly what I’d expected, a book about a man who loves books, and happens to steal them. The man in question is less a book lover and more a narcissist, sociopath and thief, primarily but not exclusively stealing books.

I was not as enthralled as I’d expected to be. I was appalled and I did remain interested, but not quite as fascinated as I’d expected to be, given how much I like books and given how owning/losing books has been such an important influence in my life, and given that this is a true story with a focus on San Francisco. I tend to be especially interested in San Francisco themed books. I did find this man’s family history very intriguing. I also enjoyed the information about rare book collectors and dealers, and some of the history about books in various cultures.

I know this is irrational but at times as I read I felt like a guilty witness.

I was particularly infuriated about the stealing from libraries, including my (SFPL) public library. I do often see the only copy/all the copies listed as “missing” in the online catalog. I’d known some of those books might have been stolen but always assumed they were more likely to have been lost.

I wish the footnotes that contain additional stories and text had been incorporated into the book proper because they were distracting as footnotes and the ones with extra stories could just have easily been included in the main part of the book.

What I enjoyed most was recognizing so many of the San Francisco settings.

One thing I learned is that, despite owning so many books, I am not a book collector, as the term is used here. I don’t aim to acquire valuable or rare books, not even signed first editions. And I have to say I’m grateful I’m a heavy duty user of the library. I don’t want people like Gilkey coming into my place to steal anything.

I’d recommend this book less for bibliophiles and more for readers interested in psychopathology.

3 to 3 ½ stars, which means it was a bit of a disappointment, but I still liked it.
Profile Image for Parastoo.
153 reviews324 followers
August 13, 2021
این کتاب درباره ی «جان گیلکی» دزد ماهر کتاب های نایاب و عتیقه بود.
نویسنده ی این کتاب «الیسون بارتلر» خبرنگاری آمریکایی است که توی نیویورک تایمز کار کرده بود و یه کتاب گیاه شناسی آلمانی قدیمی جذب کتاب های نایاب و دزدی این کتاب ها میشه.

کلا ماجرای این کتاب درباره ی سرقت کتاب های نایاب و دزدی ماهر به نام «جان گیلکی» ست. که چجوری شروع به دزدی کرد، و چی شد این موضوع ادامه دار شد و ....

واقعیتش 10صفحه ی اول کتاب برام جذاب بود، رفته رفته کتاب برام مثل اخبار بی‌بی‌سی و اینترنشنال وخبر20:30 میشد!
توی هرفصل نویسنده از خیلی چیزای تکراری که توی فصل قبلی گفته بود استفاده میکرد و کسالت بار بود.
یک موضوعی رو که میتونست توی 1فصل تموم کنه 6 فصل ادامه میداد و خب جزئیات بی‌خودی رو هی دوباره و دوباره تکرار میکرد.
خیلی سخت تمومش کردم و میتونم بگم بعضی از پاراگراف هارو نخونده رها میکردم :(
دلم میخواست دوسش داشته باشم ولی لخن اخبارگویانه ی کتاب خیلی اذیتم کرد. 💔
Profile Image for Vikas Singh.
Author 4 books273 followers
August 6, 2019
A complete waste of time. It is a boring narrative of Allison's narrative of her discussions with a rare book thief. The book is such a drag that i could not even complete it. She just managed to pick up an uncommon topic with interesting idea but completely failed to make it an interesting read. Avoid..avoid...avoid
Profile Image for Nicky.
4,138 reviews1,003 followers
March 11, 2011
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is definitely the wrong title for this book, because that's really not what this book is about. The love of stories is something I can relate to, easily -- or even the love of beautiful first editions. The amoral antics of a thief who wants to have books as a status symbol, and the wishy-washy morals of the story-hungry writer, are not something I can sympathise with as much. And I increasingly worried about the latter. She could have reported thefts of books worth thousands and thousands of dollars; she could have reported credit card fraud; she could have helped to discover where Gilkey hid the books.

By the end of the book, I wasn't sure that she would do that last -- and I knew she didn't report the thefts or the fraud. She becomes an unreliable narrator, I think. I mean, humans already tend to be, because even the most honest of us have fallible memories. I was almost more interested in that increasing swing to being on Gilkey's side.

In any case, as a book, it's easy to read, though not exactly glittering prose. It's a collection of recollections and personal musings, none of which I found particularly interesting. The more interesting figure of Ken Sanders, the "bibliodick", was rapidly written out as he began to notice the author's growing bias and unethical practices.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,782 followers
April 19, 2012
I'm afraid I must admit to a bit of judgmentalism here. I was very annoyed at this book and skimmed a lot. I know a lot of people enjoyed it...but I couldn't help but feel that the author was just too "understanding" of the book thief.

I mean we get all this "explanation" on how he dreamed of having this extensive valuable library, of collecting books (and also other things) so, he stole them.

Okay, I dream of $1000 suites, $100,000 cars and multimillion dollar houses...maybe plus of course, books. Should I just steal them? Start my own Ponzi Scheme? Rip off some one or some ones who have what I want? I mean, it's okay to just rip off someone who has something you want, right?

No, the book follows the "exploits" of our thief and his would be Nemesis, but I couldn't really get into it. It may be more interesting when I'm not so swamped I suppose, but mostly I just skimmed through this one. I'll mention a couple of other things below the "spoiler line" but bottom line, not my choice...2 stars as I skipped along just to get through it.

Profile Image for colleen the convivial curmudgeon.
1,155 reviews285 followers
January 16, 2012
The book has a cool premise - following a book thief, trying to understand his motivations and whatnot, and also following the man whose quest it is to stop the thief.

And yet...

I think it could've been cool as a sort of "based on true story" kind of fiction. I think it could've even worked better if the author wrote it focusing on the people in the story more than herself.

See, she spoke a lot about what she did to get the story. The interviews she did, the research she undertook, her ethical dilemmas when the book thief started telling her of some of his crimes... It felt like the book was often more about her and her search than it was about the thief and the "detective".

More than that, the writing was circular and repetitive. She would talk about the 'world of literary obsession', give examples of different people's interactions in the world, go on about how she didn't entirely understand it, and a chapter or so later we'd go through the same routine with maybe a few different examples.

Similarly with Gilkey, in trying to 'understand his motives'. He didn't seem all that complex - he has a huge entitlement issue, thinks the world owes him, thinks that the world would think highly of him if he had a massive rare book collection, doesn't have the means to do so and, because of his sense of entitlement, rationalizes his thefts as his dues.

I mean, Bartlett would pretty much say this in so many words, and then still act like he was this hard to understand figure, and continue to explore his psyche in ever more elaborate circles which all amounted to the same thing.

And she seemed to give our detective the short shrift, in general.

Overall, very disappointing reading on what could've been an interesting story/topic. I'm only giving it 2 stars instead of 1 because there were some interesting tidbits here and there and I didn't hate it - which is what I usually reserve 1 stars for.
209 reviews41 followers
September 13, 2019
This book is partially about the notorious book thief John Gilkey, and the bookseller who became obsessed with catching him, Ken Sanders, and partially about the rare book industry in general.

Author Allison Bartlett manages to contact John and repeatedly interview him, exploring the mindset of someone who feels it's really not wrong to “acquire” books without paying for them, since he deserves them.

Ken Sanders has spent years trying to defeat book thieves in general, and John in particular. He has become an amateur detective and is able to implement safeguards industry wide to prevent theft, as well as alert booksellers all over to the cons practiced by John.

One of my favorite things is a book where I learn something—if it's new information that is presented in an engaging fashion, I am riveted—and this book is full of fascinating tidbits about the rare book industry. As a book lover who loves books for the stories and information within, it is engrossing to read about people who spend fortunes to acquire books that they will never read, or rarely even touch. This is the rare nonfiction book that reads like a detective story—and is just as hard to put down.

But you know, I think I'd still rather have 100 cheap books that were good reads, than one fancy collectable one that stood untouched in a display case!
1,440 reviews24 followers
January 26, 2012
Narrative nonfiction books that deal with the more rarified forms of theft (books, art, orchids...) seem to follow a certain template. The author, usually a journalist, describes how he/she first of heard of "the story". He (let's make it a "he" for practical purposes) starts pursuing it with the zeal of Woodward and Bernstein tracking down the Watergate story. The author takes frequent pauses from the story to reflect on his own attitude towards the coveted objects, his tireless pursuit of truth, and the strange way reality and story begin to blend while he struggles to maintain the most stringent journalistic standards. He meets the protagonist (extra points are apparently awarded if interviews take place in jail) and discovers that every villain is being pursued, Javert-like, by a dedicated and usually somewhat maverick avenger.

And so it goes here. The story can be resumed in a few lines. A man named John Gilkey stole numerous rare books in the early 2000s by the simple expedient of ordering them over the phone with stolen credit card numbers. His nemesis was Ken Sanders, seller of rare books and head of security of Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, who alerted other booksellers of the thief's characteristic modus operandi. One day, while picking up a fraudulent order, John Gilkey was arrested. The author interviewed him multiple times and came to the conclusions that 1. Gilkey stole rare books because he wanted the patina of elegance, refinement and erudition that a well-stocked library bestows and 2. Gilkey felt no scruples about stealing the books he coveted. Gilkey was eventually released from prison and one wonders whether he will be able to stay on the straight and narrow.

That's about it. There's really not enough material here to fill an entire book with. So the author gives us a lot of anecdotes about her own favorite books, some thumbnail descriptions of the book sellers she meets, a handful of historical tidbits about famous booklovers and book thieves, and some musings about ethics (what should she do if Gilkey reveals an hitherto unrecognized theft to her?!).

Altogether too thin a story with too much padding.

Profile Image for Diana.
474 reviews34 followers
October 2, 2017
For the most part I enjoyed this book. It was a ripping yarn, well researched and well written however a disappointing ending prevented this from being a 5 star book. As a collector I could relate to some of the madness but the complete lack of morality of the thief left me stumped. Could someone be so full of guile, a rat cunning genius or were they mentally impaired and dead lucky? It did make me wonder. The book provided wonderful insights into the history and personalities of rare book collectors and dealers. I was a little disappointed that many collectors have no interest in actually reading their quarry but then I don't collect rare books and see books as an opportunity to immerse myself in other worlds through the stories within. I don't need first editions or even ownership to enjoy books. Parts of this book were excerpted in a Best American Crime Anthology and the author's tactful and remarkable access to a criminal was amazing. The author walked a tightrope between being a reporter or being an accessory to crime. A very interesting book, recommended for book lovers.
Profile Image for Rissa.
1,380 reviews48 followers
November 24, 2017
This is book porn. Literally the description of books and bindings, first edition and fonts is enough to make a book lover fall even deeped in love with books (which FYI i didnt think was possible).
Profile Image for miaaa.
482 reviews405 followers
June 18, 2010
I think life's an irrational obsession.
Sean Penn

And I solemnly think this book is about obsession, which has a shallow and fragile border with insanity. A man with disturbed upbringings, John Gilkey, sets the world to his own rules of fairness and rights. Whatever impacts his conducts may have caused to others would never bother him, or he simply pretends not to. And somehow whilst reading this magnificent journal, I can't divert my mind from Carlos María Domínguez's The Paper House.

Prior reading the book, I'll buy book randomly and mostly ended up disappointed -although of course there's a chance of a gem to dozens of craps. But then somehow, slowly but sure, I'm forging my path to be a bibliophile.

Ever since the encounter with Gabriel García Márquez's Memories My Melancholy Whore, I listed all his books into the so-called a wishlist and stockpiling them one by one:
- The second in the collection would be two copies of Love in the Time of Cholera -the Vintage 2007 edition is somewhere out there and Pra sent me another 2003 Vintage edition.
- Aldo one night gave me the Indonesian edition of Clandestine in Chile -I might bring this for the coming up trip.
- I got Of Love and Other Demons from Ronny, along with one Llosa's book.
- Gieb and Roos bought the Indonesian copy of the Bon Voyage Mr. President and Other Stories for me.
- When I went to Malang for an annual homecoming hehe, I found -well actually bought it unlike Gilkey's term of 'found'- the 2006 Harper Perennial's edition of The Autumn of the Patriarch.
- Around November 2009 Grace, my sister, gave me three vouchers and I used them to buy 2007 Penguin edition of One Hundred Years of Solitude and News of Kidnapping -I extremely fall in love with the edition's cover designs.
- Then Panda bought me the Indonesian version of Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor a swap for Goenawan Mohamad's Demokrasi dan Kekecewaan.
- The latest addition would be the old Indonesian edition of One Hundred of Solitude published by Benteng (note: long before Bentang Pustaka published their own edition I reckon).

As you can witness, there are more to be added -not just Gabo's but books by Saramago, Allende, Llosa, Budi Darma, Shusaku Endo, Neil Gaiman, and more- but I would not push myself off the limits as I believe when the time is right I'll persuade them one by one and at the end of the rainbow they're all would be mine.

And I wouldn't care whether they're first edition, rare or simply brand new as what I like to do is to have and to read them so one day I can recite my story finding all these books to my children and grandchildren. And they would do the same to theirs. A family heritage, the books and the story that comes along with them. Like Domínguez quoted in his book:

"To build up a library is to create a life. It's never just a random collections of books."

I'll build my life with books that represent my soul within their stories no matter in what shapes or genre they are: memoirs, biography, novels, graphic novels, essays, journals, short stories etc.


Hidup itu sebuah obsesi irasional
Sean Penn

Dan menurutku buku ini mengisahkan sebuah obsesi yang sangat tipis batas pemisahnya dengan kegilaan. John Gilkey melihat dunia dengan aturan dan cara main yang dia buat sendiri, peduli setan dengan dampaknya pada orang lain.

Aku kagum pada kemampuan penulis menempatkan dirinya di antara dua kunci utama kisah, semua emosi yang dia rasakan terutama keingintahuannya akan perilaku Gilkey (aku sendiri masih menganggap manusia merupakan subjek yang paling menarik).

Sulit untuk tidak mengingat buku Carlos María Domínguez yang berjudul The Paper House saat membaca buku ini. Sama-sama berkisah tentang tingkat obsesi manusia atas buku hingga ke tahap paling akut. Dan The Paper House adalah buku yang mengubah cara pandangku akan buku itu sendiri. Sebelumnya aku membeli dan membaca buku secara acak, dan seringnya sih kecewa.

Kini aku memulai perjalananku menjadi seorang Bibliophile. Mengumpulkan satu demi satu karya Gabriel García Márquez, José Saramago, Isabel Allende, Mario Vargas Llosa, Budi Darma, Neil Gaiman dan karya penulis lain.

Tentu saja proses ini pasti membutuhkan waktu dan dana. Tapi aku tidak memaksakan diri mendapatkan semua karya mereka sekaligus. Aku juga tidak peduli tentang edisi pertama, langka atau edisi terbaru karena bagiku kisah di dalamnya, proses mendapatkan, serta cerita yang melatarbelakanginya itu yang terpenting sehingga satu saat nanti aku bisa mengisahkannya kembali pada anak dan cucuku. Lalu mereka bisa mengisahkannya kepada anak dan cucu mereka. Sebuah warisan keluarga. Seperti kata Domínguez:

"Membangun perpustakaan sama halnya dengan menciptakan sebuah kehidupan. Lebih dari sekedar mengkoleksi sejumlah buku."
Profile Image for Argos.
961 reviews277 followers
November 13, 2018
Bu kitap için roman diyemem, hem yazarın röportajlarının kitaptaki ağırlığı hem de yazarın dilinin edebi denilmesi güç bir yavanlıkta olması bu düşüncemin gerekçelerini oluşturdu. Gerçek ve ilginç bir kitap hırsızı öyküsünü anlatan yazar bu sıkı hikaye arasına iyi bir araştırma sonucu bulduğu “kitap hakkında” pek bilinmeyen konuları yerleştirmiş.
Bibliyofilden bibliyomaniye geçişi, kitap kolleksiyoncularının özellikle antik kitap kolleksiyoncularının renkli ve stresli dünyalarını anlatmış. Benim notum bir edebiyat kitabı için tek yıldız olurdu ancak içindeki bilgiler ve kitap dünyasına yapılan yolculuk keyfi dört yıldızı vermeme neden oldu. Kitabı okurken Umberto Eco keşke bu romanı yazsaydı dedim devamlı.
Profile Image for Najat Elmiftahy.
21 reviews6 followers
December 29, 2022
"إن الالحاح المريع لتدمير الكتب أو قمعها ما هو إلا اعتراف بقوتها، لا أقصد النصوص العلمية والسياسية والفلسفية المذهلة فحسب، بل النصوص القصيرة الوديعة كذلك، من كتب الشعر والأدب، والتي تحمل مع ذلك قدرة هائلة على إصابتنا بالتغيير".
Profile Image for Mahlon.
314 reviews125 followers
December 16, 2009
Allison Hoover Bartlett's The Man Who Loved Books too Much tells the story of John Gilkey, a Narcissistic book thief who uses his job at Saks Fifth Avenue in SF to steal credit card numbers so that he can finance the library to which he believes he's entitled, and Ken Sanders, a rare book dealer turned detective, who is determined to catch him. Gilkey's story is merely a jumping off point for Bartlett however, she uses it to take the reader on a fascinating tour of the world of rare book collecting. Most importantly, she delves into the psychology of collecting, what drives us to collect? why do we collect certain books over others?

I felt the weakest part of the book was when Bartlett becomes an actress in her own drama, at one point she accompanies Gilkey back to the scene of one of his crimes to learn how he scouts for books first-hand. She then spends the next few pages wondering whether the trip was ethical. Luckily these ethical dilemma's are only a small distraction in an otherwise strong book.

Every Goodreads user will recognize themselves somewhere in these pages, this book makes the perfect gift for all your bibliophile friends :)

One of the best books of 2009!
Profile Image for David.
865 reviews1,268 followers
November 1, 2010
Generally I'm a sucker for books about books, so I expected to like this more than I actually did. But, although Allison Hoover Bartlett writes well, she never quite managed to convince me that this book was anything other than a magazine article that got out of hand. John Charles Gilkey, the serial book thief at the center of the story, is not completely dull, but he's not as interesting as the author seems to believe and certainly not interesting enough to warrant a 250+ page book. I think that the time and energy Bartlett spent in researching the topic caused her to overestimate its general appeal. She's not the first non-fiction writer to fall into that particular trap, and I'm sure she won't be the last.

(A tip to all non-fiction authors: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. If you notice that you are starting to a take a prominent role in the story, it's a dead giveaway that your story may be getting away from you. In olden days there was this priesthood of people known as editors who would step in and point this out to you, to save you from yourself. Sadly, this kind of editor (intelligent, engaged, firm) appears to have gone extinct, so let me say this explicitly here. If you're writing non-fiction, please stay out of the picture. Repeatedly insinuating yourself into the narrative will not make me like you more - instead it's likely to reduce the quality of your reporting and irritate the hell out of most readers. So, unless you're Richard Feynman, resist the temptation to make yourself a character in the narrative. We all have a boundless need to be liked; please don't pander to yours by gatecrashing your narrative). Allison Hoover Bartlett's failure to resist this temptation weakens this book significantly, though not fatally.

The failure of the book to ignite my interest stems from something that was essentially beyond the author's control. The problem is that John Charles Gilkey's kleptomania is the only faintly interesting thing about him, and it's not as fascinating as you might think. According to the jacket blurb, "Gilkey steals for love -- the love of books". This is accurate, strictly speaking, but it's also highly misleading. His obsession centers only on books as status objects and has nothing whatever to do with their intellectual content or with the joy of reading. He could just as well have focused his energy on stealing collectible paperweights. Or Pez dispensers. The realization that Gilkey steals books, not because he wants to read them, but because he thinks they will enhance his status, is ultimately what made this book fall flat for me. Despite Bartlett's borderline obsession with her subject, for me the book amounted to little more than a meandering account of the petty misdeeds of a small-time, singularly uncharismatic, drifter. When the account eventually just petered out, it came as a relief.

I'm making it sound worse than it is. Bartlett writes fluidly and the story is not completely without interest. It was just far less interesting than I'd expected
Profile Image for Effie Saxioni.
544 reviews73 followers
August 5, 2020
Να ένα βιβλίο που εμπίπτει στην κατηγορία "μην κρίνεις από το εξώφυλλο"!Διότι περί εξωφυλλάρας πρόκειται 💛.
Έ��ει μια αληθινή ιστορία, έχει και λίγη φαντασία,αλλά, δεν έχει πένα. Δεν τα λέει καθόλου. Στο μεγαλύτερο μέρος του βιβλίου ένιωσα πως διαβάζω μια παράθεση σπάνιων πρώτων εκδόσεων,ονόματα συγγραφέων και χρονολογίες,σαν να τα ψάχνω σε ευρετήριο. Όσο για την υποτιθέμενη ανατροπή/αποκάλυψη του τέλους, τίποτα αξιόλογο.
Profile Image for Boghean Daniela.
117 reviews
September 29, 2022
A fost ca o vânătoare de comori. 🤍

Dacă simțiți că sunteți obsedați de cărți, acest volum vă va dovedi contrariul. Aici veți găsi definiția obsesiei în toate formele ei. Dibacitatea cu care o ființă umană poate duce de nas sute de alți oameni. Încrederea cu care își atribuie obiecte și patosul cu care născocește planuri.

Gilkey este persoana în cauză. Persoana căreia nu îi este frică să petreacă luni după gratii din pricina unui volum rafinat de colecție. Persoana față de care am ajuns să cresc admirație. O scenă (dintre multe) mi-a rămas în minte: interogarea acestuia în închisoare (într-una dintre multele dați în care a fost) de către Allison Bartlett. Mi s-a părut fascinantă! A relatat cu amănunte, entuziasm și sinceritate, motivele pentru care a furat cărți de-a lungul timpului, dar cu atâta nonșalanță de parcă i s-ar fi cuvenit acest drept. A fost spectaculos să citesc acele rânduri!

Mi-a dat impresia că citesc un studiu, dar, în același timp, o investigație a unor escroci. Conține detalii despre prețurile cărților de colecție și a edițiilor clasice a marilor scriitori mondiali.
A adus ceva nou în felul acesta și mi-a oferit și un mic roman polițist.

Pur și simplu, mi-a captivat atenția întru totul 🤍
Profile Image for  Δx Δp ≥ ½ ħ .
384 reviews150 followers
May 21, 2010
edited review:

1. I want to apologize for the all the recommendations from me yesterday. I only pressed the send button once--I'm not sure what happened. Urggghh...this is so terrible...
Again, I'm very sorry. [image error]
Sprange Ben Lend Splotches Abruptly

2. gini nih kalo baca ulang. bintangnya harus turun satu. terjemahannya bikin deg-degan. rating tepatnya seh 3¼ [image error]
jadi penasaran sama bahasa Inggrisnya [image error]


Jika Anda pernah mengeluh bahwa sebuah buku pernah membuat Anda rela bergadang semalam suntuk demi membacanya tuntas, menguras semua tabungan masa depan dengan menimbun buku di rak lemari yang bahkan tak mungkin dibaca ulang, atau bermusuhan dengan kawan dekat Anda karena dia merusak/menghilangkan buku favorit Anda, sebaiknya Anda masih harus bersyukur. Daya tarik aneh buku setidaknya belum menjerumuskan Anda pada kegilaan fatal, melakukan tindak kriminal.

Seperti halnya buku The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession (kisah tentang seorang pencuri anggrek gila), buku ini juga menceritakan tentang seorang pencuri. Tapi bukan sembarang pencuri... karena ini adalah kisah seorang pencuri buku. Kisah yang dramatis, gila, dan absurd ini bertutur tentang obsesi seseorang yang begitu tergila-gila mengumpulkan buku bahkan dengan cara mencuri, bahkan dari seluruh pelosok negeri... juga ada kisah tentang ambisi nekat seorang kolektor buku yang membanting profesi menjadi detektif amatir untuk menangkap si pencuri.... semua kisah rumit dan aneh ini, akan mempertemukan Anda dengan si tokoh pencuri yang mengundang simpati, dan sang tokoh detektif yang mengundang decak kagum. Bagaimana jerat tipuan dilakukan untuk menipu sang penipu dibuat cermat dan mengejutkan...

Dengan detail yang memikat dan riset yang kuat, para pecinta buku akan terjerat dalam sebuah dunia penuh teka-teki yang jenaka, getir, dan pelik, bagaimana sebuah buku bisa menimbulkan ketagihan tak terelakkan dan membangkitkan jiwa kegilaan fatal pada para pembacanya.

Anda mungkin menganggap gila si pencuri karena dia nekat mencuri barang "sepele". Tapi begitu Anda melihat buku apa saja yang ia curi--jelas dia tak mencuri buku tulis 2 pack atau novel picisan dari obralan--Anda hanya akan bisa ternganga, kagum sekaligus iri. mungkin dari segi ini Anda bisa memahami, mengapa mencuri hanya satu-satunya cara untuk mendapatkan koleksi buku amat luar biasa ini.

Begitu Anda mulai membaca buku ini, Anda tak akan pernah bisa meletakkan buku ini begitu saja... karena siapa tau... ketika lengah, buku Anda dicuri [image error]

Saya pernah "mencuri" buku pas masih SD, alias tidak mengembalikan buku perpustakaan, dengan asumsi bahwa saia sangat suka buku ituh dan di perpus pun orang gak membacanya. tapi setelah menemukan kopian aslinya di toko buku, akhirnya dikembalikan... dengan pura2 menemukan buku itu terselip di meja salah seorang siswa [image error]
Profile Image for Anne .
428 reviews336 followers
January 31, 2012
The title of this book is a bit deceptive. I set my expectations very high for a book about, well, a man who loved books too much. The man in question, John Gilkey, is a narcissistic sociopath who doesn't read books other than those which teach him about rare books and how to steal them. He has no interest in books for the sake of any personal meaning they might have for him. "Collecting" books is Gilkey's means of feeling important in the world, for gaining self-esteem. For him, rare books equate wealth and high social status, neither of which he has. Since Gilkey's self-esteem is so poor, his remedy, stealing rare books, gives him only fleeting satisfaction and a boost to his self-esteem. Hence, he can never stop stealing.

This analysis is what I gleaned from the book. The author sees Gilkey as akin to other collectors who actually pay for their books. This is true to some extent, but I would have appreciated a more thorough understanding of this man, with whom she spent hundreds of hours over the course of two years of research.

In the end I was a bit underwhelmed by this book, but it is still a fun and informative read about the rare book trade and one man who preys upon it. The best parts of the book center on Gilkey who is a lesson in the audacity and self-delusion of narcissistic sociopaths. Because of the attention Ms. Bartlett pays him, he tells her details about his crimes, revealing also his self-serving rationalizations for stealing. His most common rationalization was that life was unfair - he had no books, while the rare book dealers had so many. By stealing he was only righting this wrong. He also believed that these dealers, whom he had stolen from, might want to give him books so that he wouldn't have to steal them. "It couldn't hurt to ask," he states.

One of my favorite quotes from Gilkey comes towards the end of his association with Ms. Bartlett. He knows, of course, that she is writing a book and he makes a suggestion: "I was thinking maybe at the end of the book....and I think it's a perfect ending, if the people who read it want to donate a book to me to keep me out of jail or something."

3 1/2 stars
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Bill.
308 reviews315 followers
March 6, 2010
Fascinating book about the true story of John Gilkey who over a period of years stole many valuable books, mainly from rare book dealers, usually using stolen credit card numbers. In some ways he was quite ingenious, but the most amazing thing is he really felt no guilt at all.In fact he really deserved these books as far as he was concerned and actually felt the book dealers were to blame for him not being able to afford them. Quite a reprehensible character...in my opinion anybody who steals books should be shot...and at the end of the book he is out of prison and stealing books again.He didn't seem to realize, or care for that matter, that most book dealers, rare or otherwise, barely manage to make ends meet.You only have to look at the huge number of used book dealers who have gone out of business in the last 10 or 20 years. It's very sad.Everybody on Goodreads should read this book as it gives many insights into the rare book business.
Profile Image for Truly.
2,229 reviews
May 11, 2010
Semua pencuri buku adalah pembohong sejati!

Baru kali ini saya menyesal bisa membaca dengan cepat! Walau setiap hari memaksa membaca hanya sekian halaman, tetap saja buku ini selesai dalam hitungan hari. Ceritanya sungguh sayang untuk ditamatkan dalam waktu singkat. Apa boleh buat, lain kali ini ini pasti saya baca lagi, lagi dan lagi.

Bagi kolektor buku, buku dinilai bukan dari isinya. Bahkan banyak diantara mereka yang tidak membaca buku koleksinya. Mereka menilai buku dari bentuk fisik, saat penerbitan dan kesulitan mendapatkannya. Sungguh berbeda dengan mereka yang suka membaca, isi adalah segalanya.

Gilkey sangat mencintai buku hingga bersedia masuk penjara demi buku. Ketertarikannya lebih karena apa yang disimbolkan oleh sebuah buku alih-alih ceritanya. Gilkey bukan saja tergerak hatinya untuk mencuri karena perasaan cinta terhadap buku. Namun juga karena menikmati rasa kekaguman orang terhadap koleksi bukunya, itulah inti hasrat Gilkey. Baginya buku adalah benda visual, yang tanpak menarik ketika berjajar di rak. Ia memperlakukan buku dengan sangat lembut penuh dengan kehati-hatian.

Bagi Gilkey, sebanyak apapun uang yang dimiliknya, jumlah itu tak akan pernah cukup untuk semua buku yang diinginkannya. Kebanyakan buku yang diinginkannya merupakan buku yang masuk dalam daftar seratus novel berbahasa Inggris terbaik abad kedua puluh (novel yang diterbitkan sejak 1990) yang disusun oleh para anggota dewan editor Moderen Library pada tahun 1998

Hal ini mungkin juga dialami oleh diri kita masing-masing tanpa kita sadari. Saya pribadi, kadang lebih mementingkan membeli buku, menghadiri bedah buku atau pergi ke toko buku dibandingkan acara lain. Walau keuangan sedang defisit,namun mengetahui ada diskon disebuah toko buku saya langsung bergegas menuju toko buku itu. Setelah pulang dari toko buku, sudah bisa dipastikan keuangan saya kian defisit. Namun rasanya sepadan. Baru belakangan saya lebih bisa menahan diri.

Atau cerita sahabat karib saya yang saya temui lewat salah satu milis penerbit. Tagihan kartu kreditnya sebagian besar adalah dari toko buku. Ia seakan meletakkan langit sebagai batasan belanja buku, namun untuk urusan yang lain ia akan meletakkan tanah sebagai batasannya. Ia bahkan mau berbaik hati membuka “Rekening” bagi sahabat seperti saya, yang punya niat belanja buku besar tapi keuangan kecil. Dia bagai malaikat penolong bagi saya dan para sahabat.

Kesukaannya membeli dan membaca buku serta lambatnya kecepatannya membaca merupakan keuntungan bagi saya. Saya bisa membaca buku terbaru gratis, tidak gratis juga sebenarnya, saya menunjukkan rasa terima kasih dengan menyampulkan buku yang saya pinjam.

Tanpa sadar, saya jadi membenci sekaligus mengagumi Ken Sanders,orang yang bertanggung jawab mejegal sepak terjang Gilkey. Walau saya tahu bahwa yang dilakukan Gilkey adalah kesalahan besar, namun sebagai seseorang yang mencintai buku, saya bisa memahami mengapa ia berbuat begitu. Untuk itu saya membenci Sanders yang membuat hidup Gilkey menjadi merana. Di sisi lain, saya mengagumi kegigihannya membantu para pedagang buku antik menyelamatkan buku-buku mereka dari tangan yang tidak bertanggung jawab semacam Gilkey. kecintaannya terhadap buku, membuat Sanders merasa buku harus diperlakuan dengan istimewa, termasuk cara memperolehnya.

Walau berkesan berat, namun buku ini juga memberikan banyak cerita-cerita segar. Misalnya saat Gilkey meminta ayahnya mengambilkan buku yang dibelinya, membayangkan ketegangan yang dialaminya serta kelakuan saat akhirnya sang ayah datang dengan membawa buku pesanan. Atau mendengar Gilkey menggerutu saat mengetahui banyak buku di perpustakaan yang hilang dicuri. Ia dengan marahnya mengomentari bahwa mencuri buku di perpustakaan adalah pencurian, sebuah kesalahan besar, lalu yang dilakukannya bagaimana?

Membaca judul buku In Cold Blood dan The Profesor and The Mad-man yang tercantum dalam buku ini membuat saya meringis. Maklum kedua buku itu sudah saya jadikan modal saat mengikuti bookswap. Padahal edisi asli buku ini ternyata berharga cukup mahal. Memang yang saya punya adalah edisi terjemahan namun edisi terjemahan pertama. Siapa tahu beberapa tahun kedepan juga berharga mahal. Duh... jadi musti berhati-hati kalau ikutan bookswap.

Buku ini juga memberikan tambahan pengetahuan seputar buku. Saya jadi tahu bahwa ”Papan” adalah istilah yang digunakan untuk menyebut sampul. Saya lebih mengerti kenapa banyak sahaabt saya yang menolak membeli buku dengan menggunakan kartu kredit Juga mengenai berbagai macam tipe pencuri buku.

Dalam situs ABBA ( Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America), Asosiasi Pedagang Buku Antik Amerika disebutkan ada 5 tipe pencuri buku. Yaitu: Kleptomania yang tidak bias menahan diri untuk mencuri buku; pencuri yang mencuri demi meraih keuntungan, pencuri yang mencuri karena marah; pencuri biasa; pencuri yang mencuri untuk digunakan sendiri. Saya jadi berpikir, jangan-jangan tanpa sadar saya juga pernah “Mencuri” Masuk kategori yang mana yah….

Paragraf yang paling saya sukai dari buku ini, merupakan ungkapan dari Winston S. Churchill. Tapi... berhubung terlalu panjang, silahkanc ek di halaman 105.
Profile Image for ♥ Sandi ❣	.
1,215 reviews
December 8, 2021
3 stars

A book that gives great information about rare books and rare book collectors, but is top heavy with incidental information. The life of Charles Gilkey - the book thief - was interesting and worth the read. This book could have easily been cut down to about 180 pages and still relayed the meat of the thief and the detective.

Unless you are a rare book collector I would not recommend this book.
Profile Image for Amy.
892 reviews219 followers
July 27, 2016
My mother and I share and talk about Books. We like a lot of the same, and enjoy a great share and discussion. I love to be a mini eavesdropper on her book group and have never felt I have found quite the book group of my own. I talk about books with Melissa, who loves historical fiction, with Elizabeth who loves fiction, Betsy who loves good writing, and Samantha who loves a good story. I read some of Hoffman's Ritual and Spontaneity in the Psychoanalytic Process with Jane, and a book comes alive in a particular way when you read it together. With NECET, I read Winnecott's Playing with Reality, and Bromberg's Standing in the Spaces. I think this is why I love the fellowships I do so much, reading beloved articles together.

Back to the book I am reviewing, I loved the line where she says that a collector says "I only collect books that have changed lives," referring to how rare is decided subjectively, and how collections are born, created and sustained. I loved that line, as I feel that way about the many books I have kept. If they kept me company, stimulated my imagination, touched me, or transported me to another place, I have kept them. Oddly enough, since my love affair with the library began, I now "keep' them through writing these reviews, my one public format blog offering to an otherwise private internet identity. As I've said, books are conversation, imagination, memory, history, and story - they are so much more to me. I read and thrive on reading, the way others do with exercise. Some say, I love to read, I just don't have the time. If you love something, I think you make time - truly. I vote with my feet, or my clicks as the case may be. I could as easily say, I love to exercise, but I don't have the time. And that is reflected in my body (of knowlegde too) as well as my library.

One last idea, I wondered what each of us theive - the meaning of the man's choice of books nd of books themselves became revealed, but like we are collectors of so many things other than books, I wondered what we theive - treasure? Is it time, youth, trust? Can one argue that therapists are theives of stories, of souls? It made me think. We are defined by our stories, our collections, our myths, also our theivery, our secrets, and our fantasies. On pg 258 she answers this, however. She decides she is not a theif, she is a "borrower of a book or of a story." I guess with that, so am I. As a now library book borrower, and a therapist, in many ways, I am both too. My patients stories live within me, as they grow, touching me just as my precious books do. Funny that my clinical notes actually live in the same place. Tons of history of relationship, imagination, change, and love.

Anyway, now reading next three, this tells you something about me - The Space Between Us, whuc Melissa lent me, my mother and Jennifer Harter loved, (she and I talk about books too.) Also, Jodi Piccoult's newest, House Rules which my mother is going to lend me for the exchange of the Wrong Mother, by Sophie Hannah, and a re-read of Harry Potter 7, so I can go see the movie, part one, at the IMAX with Elizabeth and our hubbies, with whom we saw the first three or four movies together. Happy Reading, and Happy New Year. With love and imagination, Amy
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