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The Man Who Loved Books Too Much (2009)

by Allison Hoover Bartlett

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
2,3101704,868 (3.43)1 / 167
Unrepentant book thief John Charles Gilkey has stolen a fortune in rare books from around the county. Yet unlike most thieves, who steal for profit, Gilkey steals for the love of the books. Perhaps equally obsessive, though, is Ken Sanders, the self-appointed "bibliodick" driven to catch him. Sanders, a lifelong rare book collector and dealer turned amateur detective, will stop at nothing to catch the thief plaguing his trade.… (more)
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English (166)  Dutch (3)  German (1)  All languages (170)
Showing 1-5 of 166 (next | show all)
A journalist's piece about the obsession of books. Its well written and a rare look into the underbelly of the first edition book trade. ( )
  illmunkeys | Apr 22, 2021 |
This is for the "Book of True Crime" challenge in the Book Riot Read Harder challenge. I didn't want to read anything about murder or kidnapping or, really, bad things happening to people, and this came up in the Get Booked podcast a few weeks ago.

I ended up really disliking the narrator, and I'm not sure why. It came to feel like she was fighting not to be taken in by Gilkey, when his faults were so obvious it would seem impossible to fall under his spell. ( )
  ssperson | Apr 3, 2021 |
from the book bookbox; the author chronicles the escapes of a rare book thief, who steals the books to amass his own personal collection. A rare book collector and books shop owner, Sanders, makes it his mission to thwart and catch Gilkey in quite the cat and mouse game. The author also introduces the reader to the word of rare books - what makes it worth so much? Is it really rare? What makes a first edition? etc, etc ( )
  nancynova | Mar 27, 2021 |
I enjoyed this book immensely, with a few caveats: 1) I'm not a fan of more traditional, sensational true crime, so I can't speak to how thrilling it would be in that regard. 2) I'm a librarian with a Bachelor's in psychology, so I feel this book was tailor-made for me and I'm not sure who else would enjoy it. 3) While I enjoyed reading the first 3/4 or so, I thought the ending was weak.

I spent most of this book watching in fascination and horror as he kept getting away with things, getting caught (or not), and on and on. I was really hoping for some closure by the end - it felt like the author was, too - but it never happened. I suppose that's the tricky thing about "true crime," that there isn't always a case closed at the end, but the last 50 pages or so were frustrating as I realized that it wasn't actually going anywhere. I'm giving it 4 stars because up to the last section, the experience of reading was quite fun.

Read Harder 2018: A book of true crime ( )
  AnnaWaffles | Aug 28, 2020 |
This book provides a glimpse into the world of rare books -- the sellers, the collectors, and the criminals. The book looks at John Gilkey, a man obsessed with stealing rare books and even more obsessed with his image as the kind of man who values them. The author is a reporter, and she interviews Mr. Gilkey several times, letting him talk and spin his story. She also accompanies him on scouting missions, thus entering the story herself rather than simply report it. Very interesting look at the rare book trade, as well as the psychology of a thief. ( )
  LynnB | Jul 26, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 166 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
For him that stealeth, or borroweth and returneth not, this book from its owner ... let him be struck with palsy, & all his members blasted ... Let bookworms gnaw his entrails in token of the Worm that dieth not, & when at last he goeth to his final punishment, let the flames of Hell consume him forever.
—Anathama in a medieval manuscripts from the Monastery of San Pedro in Barcelona
I have known men to hazard their fortunes, go long journeys half-way around the world, forget friendships, even lie, cheat, and steal, all for the gain of a book.
—A. S. W. Rosenbach, twentieth century book dealer
Dedication
For John, Julian, and Sonja
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Prologue
At one end of my desk sits a nearly four-hundred-year-old book cloaked in a tan linen sack and a good deal of mystery.
Chapter 1
April 28, 2005, was bright and mild, the kind of spring day in New York City that seems full of promise, and on the corner of Park Avenue and East Sixty-sixth Street a queue of optimistic people was growing.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Unrepentant book thief John Charles Gilkey has stolen a fortune in rare books from around the county. Yet unlike most thieves, who steal for profit, Gilkey steals for the love of the books. Perhaps equally obsessive, though, is Ken Sanders, the self-appointed "bibliodick" driven to catch him. Sanders, a lifelong rare book collector and dealer turned amateur detective, will stop at nothing to catch the thief plaguing his trade.

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Book description
Unrepentant book thief Gilkey has stolen a fortune in rare books from around the country. Yet unlike most thieves, who steal for profit, Gilkey steals for love--the love of books. Perhaps equally obsessive, though, is Ken Sanders, the self-appointed "bibliodick" driven to catch him. Sanders, a lifelong rare book collector and dealer turned amateur detective, will stop at nothing to catch the thief plaguing his trade.

In following both of these eccentric characters, journalist Allison Hoover Barlett plnged deep into a world of fanatical book lust, and ultimately found herself caught between the many people interested in finding Gilkey's stolen treasure, and the man who wanted to keep it hidden: the thief himself.

With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, Bartlett has woven this cat-and-mouse chase into a narrative that not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his crimes and how Sanders eventually caught him, but also explores the romance of books, the lure to collect them, and the temptation to steal them. All collectors have stories of what first made them fall in love, and Gilkey and Sanders are no different. Bartlett puts their stories into the larger context of book passion, collection, and theft through the ages. [from book jacket]
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Allison Hoover Bartlett chatted with LibraryThing members from Oct 22, 2009 to Oct 30, 2009. Read the chat.

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Tantor Media

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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