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About the Author

Obras de Allison Hoover Bartlett


2009 (15) 2010 (12) 2012 (9) 21st century (11) adult (11) ARC (14) audio (11) bibliomania (78) bibliophile (11) bibliophilia (24) biography (113) book collecting (70) book collectors (10) book theft (20) book thief (13) books (156) books about books (194) books and reading (9) collecting (24) crime (91) ebook (21) fiction (18) history (43) John Gilkey (12) Ken Sanders (9) Kindle (16) library (18) literature (13) mystery (30) non-fiction (374) own (9) rare books (57) read (25) reading (10) theft (36) thief (12) thieves (19) to-read (224) true crime (143) unread (12)

Conhecimento Comum

Data de nascimento
20th Century
Locais de residência
San Francisco, California, USA
University of California, Santa Barbara




A fairly bland, surface account of a rare book thief who doesn't particularly stand out in terms of methods, targets, motives, or psychology. He's a common-or-garden kleptomaniac with a sideline in narcissism. Why Allison Hoover Bartlett singled him out as worthy of a book's worth of attention remains somewhat of a mystery—is it too cynical of me to wonder if she focused on him because he lived (and was incarcerated) within easy distance of her? Hoover Bartlett doesn't bring much by way of interesting reflection to the topic of bibliomania (It takes her much of the book to reach the conclusion that print books persist even in the digital age because people have sentimental attachments to physical things. Fancy that), and her historical contextualisation is often weak or garbled ("After book burnings in the Middle Ages, knowledge of traditional medicine had been lost, so at the time of the Kräutterbuch's publication, in 1630, the book was a way to return to the old ways of healing, revolutionary for its time." Huh? There weren't mass burnings of herbals in the Middle Ages, we have many such manuscripts.)… (mais)
siriaeve | outras 180 resenhas | May 10, 2024 |
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 is unfortunately not the fascinating tale I was hoping for. I thought perhaps I was biased in my opinion because I had just finished Flawless, but then I read other reviews and found others who felt the same way.

I was hoping that this book would at least bring a glimpse of the not-so-nice side of the rare-book trade and collecting, but no, you didn't get that at all. Our main character, John Charles Gilkey is not as fascinating as Ms. Bartlett seems to find him. He's a thief. He's not noble thief; he steals simply because he wants the book. He's not a particularly smart thief either; he simply uses a stolen credit card or writes a bad check. He's just your run-of-the-mill thief.

Maybe I would have been okay with that portion of the tale if I really believed the man actually loved the books. He doesn't. He feels entitled to have them, so he steals them. It's not about the artwork on/in a first edition; it's about the prestige that comes from owning that first edition. It's not about the stories inside the covers either. He doesn't seem to care about that either. He simply feels like wealthy people should have a large library and therefore he's entitled to what he wants to have.

This book was unfortunately, totally disappointing and I do not recommend it.
… (mais)
Valerie.Michigan | outras 180 resenhas | May 1, 2024 |
This book is a great example of why "don't judge a book by it's cover" goes both ways. At first glance, everything about it appealed to me: the collection of antique books, the mystery man, the subtitle: "true story!" "detective!" "literary obsession!" The title was ridiculous, but I was willing to overlook that. Suffice it to say, I was disappointed.

In short, this book was rarely engaging.

In long, it could have been so much more. For starters, I found myself annoyed with the author at every turn. Part of this is personal---while she may like to read, she doesn't LOVE books. She doesn't understand the mind of a collector. She doesn't get why someone would forego decent groceries in order to keep themselves stocked in books. I suppose I shouldn't fault her for that...but I do. The other thing that bugged me the most was the constant switching between Gilkey's and Sanders's story lines, peppered with random pop-ups of random stories that didn't follow Gilkey or Sanders. It seems the author couldn't decide what kind of a book she wanted to write, but she knew she wanted it to be about book thieves. Oh, and book collecting. Oh yeah, and other bookish stuff to help fill space. This idea could possibly work somewhere in some book---but in this one, it's very choppy and convoluted.

I started this new paragraph to get away from picking on the author...but there's actually more. She's a mix of pushy, naive and flighty, in a senior-class-president sort of way. She comes across as super narrow-minded on page 112 when she says, "It occurred to me how unusual it is to see a person of color at a rare book fair or store. This has been an old-white-man's game for a long time, but it appeared, at that moment, that perhaps things were changing." First off, she makes it clear in other places that hanging out at rare book fairs and stores has never been her thing before researching this book so she's making dumb assumptions with no proof. Secondly, does she think 21st century San Francisco has been the book-buying hub of the universe for the last 500 years? Does she not realize that there are, and have been, rare books being bought, the world over, by people from all cultures---most of them NOT rich white guys from Cali? Ugh.

Moving on to the story...there were some interesting parts, for sure. I especially liked learning about the different amazing books that are out there and how much they're worth. It was crushing to hear how much theft goes on and goes unreported. I also found myself asking if I could ever bring myself to steal a book I desperately wanted. I decided that I wouldn't---but the desire would be there. Deeply.

I could relate to those who would pay a seemingly outrageous price for a coveted book---but I couldn't relate to Gilkey. His motives for stealing the books were never clearly laid out by the author, though I got the feeling that she was attempting to make them known. She threw in a mention once or twice that he enjoyed reading...but, you know...

I got the impression that Gilkey wasn't necessarily enamored of books in particular---he'd just found an obsession and latched on. I found it frustrating that the author didn't dig more deeply into the mental issues that were so obviously there. She barely touched the idea of his mental state, deciding he must be fine since a judge had ruled that way "that one time"... A study of the disorders that would cause a person to act in ALL the weird ways Gilkey did would have been really beneficial to this story and would have helped flesh out the character a bit.

The book ends without one knowing it. A little Gilkey ramble and then she's done. I can't describe how utterly irritated I am with this woman's writing. The only consolation is that the book is short. I wanted to abandon it so many times, but had already invested several nights to slogging through it by the time I was really ready to chuck it across the attic.
… (mais)
classyhomemaker | outras 180 resenhas | Dec 11, 2023 |
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.… (mais)
secondhandrose | outras 180 resenhas | Oct 31, 2023 |


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½ 3.4

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