I love books. I love their weight, their smell, feeling whether the edges are cut straight or deckle, and the mood of the font. But I am not a collectI love books. I love their weight, their smell, feeling whether the edges are cut straight or deckle, and the mood of the font. But I am not a collector. I can appreciate a beautiful book and give it back without too much regret. The subject of The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, a con man by the name John Gilkey, cannot.
The problem with John Gilkey is that he will collect at any cost…so long as the cost isn’t one that requires him to open his wallet. The book follows Gilkey through years of rare book theft, outlining his glee at ripping off booksellers with fake credit cards, stealing first editions from libraries, and using whatever means is necessary for him to create a “cultured” collection.
Also along the way we meet the men and women who Gilkey has stolen from, including “bibliodick” Ken Sanders, a rare book seller in Salt Lake City. Sanders pursued Gilkey for years, setting up stings and chasing down lost books (he is also an appraiser on Antiques Roadshow, if you happen to watch it).
Gilkey is not a likable character – how could he be? – and my disdain for him grew as he complained about what the world “owes” him and how it’s “unfair” that he doesn’t have the money for books. Yuck.
I am conflicted on this book. It was intriguing to catch a glimpse into book collecting and who is involved in that world. At the same time the author felt a bit too forgiving of Gilkey’s crimes....more
The Bones of Paris follows private detective Harris Stuyvesant through Paris as he tries to track down the whereabouts of his once-lover, Pip. Pip’s lThe Bones of Paris follows private detective Harris Stuyvesant through Paris as he tries to track down the whereabouts of his once-lover, Pip. Pip’s last known location was in the company of a handful of creepy artists obsessed with death and an aristocratic Parisian covering the wounds of war. Harris is an American, and even in a 1929 Paris filled with Americans he doesn’t quite fit in. The story also involves another former lover of Harris, her brother, and a few worn-down cameos of the era (Hemingway, Fitzgerald).
The book is a good read, but I suspect it’s an even better read after tackling Touchstone (which I mistakenly didn't read first). King references the book a lot – an overwhelming amount – and having not read it I eventually tired of the veiled hints at its story line. I kept going because I wanted to know “whodunnit,” but if it hadn’t been King (who I admire), I likely would have put this one aside....more
Last week I was cruising through the stacks of non-fiction books in my local library. I walked slowly, letting my eyes stop on any book binding that cLast week I was cruising through the stacks of non-fiction books in my local library. I walked slowly, letting my eyes stop on any book binding that caught my attention.
This unscientific method of book selection is how I came home with the beautifully designed Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color. My niece and I had a conversation about feminism this summer, and it has been composting through my brain ever since. All it took was the word “feminist” for me to add the book to the already large pile in my arms.
Dead Feminists is about, well, dead feminists, but it’s also about the two author’s popular letterpress series on the topic. The book dedicates a few pages to each profiled feminist, and a few pages to the letterpress process used to design that heroine’s poster.
I’m a fan of beautiful handcrafted art, but I’ll admit I was into this book for the feminists more than the posters. Fun to flip through? Totally. An in-depth look at historical feminists? Nope. Still, it’s a nice read, especially if you like print and design....more
I am, and have always been, a sucker for a good adventure tale. Fiction or non-fiction doesn’t matter much, though I’m impressed by writers who can tuI am, and have always been, a sucker for a good adventure tale. Fiction or non-fiction doesn’t matter much, though I’m impressed by writers who can turn a well researched true story into a compelling narrative.
Author Laurie Gwen Shapiro, in her first non-fiction book, almost does it. It’s so, so close.
The Stowaway is about a young Polish boy in New York City named Billy Gawronski who had a love, as I do, of adventure tales. He takes this love to extremes by stowing away on Admiral Richard Byrd’s expedition to Antartica in 1928. The story follows Billy’s journey across the globe while simultaneously sharing the ups and downs of the expedition as a whole.
Shapiro details the traceable parts of Billy’s life before, during, and after the expedition. There are enough gaps that he never came to feel like a friend, though I admired his pluck and was eager to continue reading each time I picked up the book....more
When mention of Tuck Everlasting crossed my path recently I became intrigued. I loved this book as a child but the specifics of why were muddied. AllWhen mention of Tuck Everlasting crossed my path recently I became intrigued. I loved this book as a child but the specifics of why were muddied. All I recall is a feeling of magic and young love. I couldn’t resist venturing into the children’s section of the library and picking up the 40th anniversary edition.
Author Natalie Babbitt had a gift for description that creates a pulsing, breathing story. The plot is simple – a sheltered girl discovers a boy whose entire family drank from an eternal spring and therefore have become immortal – but the way the tale is told takes the reader on a beautiful journey.
I was surprised to learn from the 40th edition introduction (by Wicked author Gregory Maguire) that the book was published in 1975. Reading it as a child I assumed it was a classic with its old-time language and timeless essence. Babbitt passed just last year after writing dozens of books in her lifetime. It’s Tuck Everlasting, though, that lives on in the dusty memories of those of us lucky enough to read it as children....more
Artemis is a story about a lifelong resident of the first city on the moon. Jazz lives just outside the law, though like all endearing criminals she sArtemis is a story about a lifelong resident of the first city on the moon. Jazz lives just outside the law, though like all endearing criminals she sticks to her word and has a heart of gold. Well, maybe not a heart of gold. But she has a heart.
Jazz is looking to repay a large debt and enters into an agreement with a wealthy businessman. Things go awry, as they always do, and the Jazz finds herself mixed up with an organized crime syndicate and running from a murderer.
Like The Martian, Artemis is a mix of science fiction storytelling and technical space details. Toward the middle of the book I found myself glazing over the technical pieces and refocusing my attention when the story picked up again. Science geeks may love all the detail, but it’s lost on me.
Also like The Martian, Artemis is a fast, entertaining read that kept me up a few minutes past when I normally crawl into bed, just to see what’s going to happen next. I didn’t connect deeply with the characters, and I wasn’t sad to say goodbye to them at the end. The book was fun, though not something I’d keep on my shelf to revisit in the future....more