Review: 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

In the tradition of ‘The Orchid Thief’, a compelling narrative set within the strange and genteel 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.
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. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, she has woven this entertaining cat-and-mouse chase into a narrative 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.
Immersing the reader in a rich, wide world of literary obsession, 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.
– Goodreads
Release Date: 2009
Source: Purchased
I became slightly obsessed with this collection of memories of John Gilkey told by the author. His obsession of rare collectible books had surpassed my preconceived thoughts. I never knew people could be this determined to own, let alone steal and do anything they can to get their hands on these books.
This is a great, informative book of the, almost, underground thievery of rare books and the people who will do what they can to either protect the value or steal them away. A great read for a behind-the-scenes look of the extent people will go to collecting rare treasures.
In this biography we follow a journalist who investigates, interrogates and indulges in the rarity of books and a man, John Gilkey, as he tells her about how and why he does what he did without fully admitting that what he was doing was wrong, whether he acknowledged that it was wrong or not.
I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did, and possibly encouraged to go as far as wanting to start rummaging through somebody’s garage saled books or venturing into an estate sale to see what hidden gems you may find in the shelves.
4 Star
Let’s discuss, how far would you go to get something you really wanted?

About Black ' n Write Reviewer

Library Tech grad who is currently working on a BA in Political Science and filling all her time with books.
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