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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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Archive: Other Books > The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett, 1 star (oh dear)

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message 1: by Sue (new) - rated it 1 star

Sue (mrskipling) This book irritated me. Its author irritated me. Yes the book thief irritated me, but you'd expect that. What I didn't expect was that I would despise the woman who wrote this. She knowingly accompanied Gilkey on a trip to one of the book shops from which he had previously stolen. She watched him talk to the owner who clearly recognised Gilkey. On another occasion she stood next to him while he called a different book shop and went through his routine of finding and buying a book, in order to demonstrate his method to her, only stopping right at the end before giving a stolen credit card to pay for it. He told her of other thefts, which had not been reported to the police, and she didn't pass that information on to the authorities. I could go on, but won't waste my breath. Throughout all of this she talked of how uncomfortable she felt, how she wondered(!!) if she was doing something wrong, if she was complicit in some way with his wrongdoings. Given that she kept a stolen book (a rare one) herself during the period she was writing this book, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised that she was unsure about the morality involved here!

Oh, and this man did not steal because he "loved books too much". That title is misleading. He stole because he dreamed of being a "gentleman", being worth something, being "somebody". He saw owning rare books as being a key element of that lifestyle. He couldn't afford them, so he stole them, and he saw nothing wrong with that.

Quite apart from all that, the book is poorly written. She opens with a visit to a book fair to meet another key character in this book. She uses her walk across the hall as a plot device to talk of various book sellers and collectors she saw there and to give some of their stories. Well, that walk must have taken a long time if she heard all those stories that day! It simply wasn't credible.

It is also repetitive. I don't know how many times she told the same story over and over, of how he managed to steal these books, repeatedly using broadly the same method. This book could have been half as long. And then I would have wasted only half as much time reading it.


message 2: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten | 29 comments This man was the subject of an episode of the podcast Criminal called "Ex Libris", which I listened to a couple months ago. The episode was interesting and sympathetic to the book shop owners who were victims of the crime. From your review, it sounds like a 20m podcast is a much better format to tell this story.


message 3: by Sue (new) - rated it 1 star

Sue (mrskipling) That sounds like an interesting podcast Kirsten, and yes I'd rather have spent 20 minutes on this chap than several hours!


message 4: by annapi (new)

annapi | 5069 comments Good to know what books to avoid!


message 5: by KateNZ (new)

KateNZ | 2504 comments Dang - this one sounded so interesting from the publisher's blurb. Guess that's one off the TBR!! Thanks for the review :)


message 6: by Sue (new) - rated it 1 star

Sue (mrskipling) Thanks annapi and Katenz!


message 7: by Amy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Amy | 8855 comments I must’ve reviewed this like 15 years ago. And I wrote such a long and lengthy review that I had to split it into two pieces, only 1/2 is with us on good reads I believe. If it’s there at all. But I actually remember liking the book a lot and feeling moved to write an intense amount. It feels like it was a 3.5 or 3.8 to me, but darn if I could tell you why. It was one of my first and earliest reviews. Wayback win when I wrote reviews on LinkedIn.


message 8: by Sue (new) - rated it 1 star

Sue (mrskipling) Amy wrote: "I must’ve reviewed this like 15 years ago. And I wrote such a long and lengthy review that I had to split it into two pieces, only 1/2 is with us on good reads I believe. If it’s there at all. But ..."

Yes I thought I was going to like it too Amy. It sounded promising. I've got a couple of other similar books on my tbr so perhaps I'll be luckier next time!


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