Friday, November 6, 2009

Review by Shellie: The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett


 Review and Synopsis Combo:

This is an intriguing and psychologically complex book. Written by  journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett who inadvertently finds herself in possession of a valuable and very old book.  It is a German tome written in 1630 called Krueterbuch – plant book, by Hieronymus Boch. Its weight is 12 pounds. 

Her curiosity takes her beyond her research for the owners of the Boch book. What she discovers about the nature of old books and the ease by which they are pilfered, leads her to believe that this is the probable story behind this ancient book as well.  As she begins to explore, she comes across a community of old book lovers whose interests lay beyond that of the garden variety paperback book collector. They are book experts and aficionados whom care for, collect, and sell books with values of hundreds of dollars and beyond.

Interestingly, Bartlett finds that within the peripherals of this community there is a man named John Charles Gilkey. He is of questionable character and psychological health, and in an obsessive fashion values books beyond the norm. His goal is to acquire books through some very convoluted and interesting means, and his justification of those means is fascinating. He also triggers a series of  events within the community. As the sellers become entrenched in their losses and their desire to capture this man, we find out about these experts, sellers, and collectors, as well as the inevitable obsessed “biblio-dick” (book detective), whom all in turn converge to find “the man who loves books too much”.

The Man who Loved Books too Much is a wonderful, interesting, and quirky read. I laughed. I reminisced. I was amazed and fascinated. I wanted to enter this world. To touch, smell, and read these old and special books.

I would recommend this book for book lovers, non fiction lovers, true crime fiction aficionados, persons interested in psychological intrigue, and those whom are “slightly older” since some of the references in the book are connected to the 1960’s and 70’s and may be lost on a younger reader.

I would give this book 4.5 stars. Highly recommended.

On a more personal note since reading this I have had to restrain myself from creating my own little obsession. That would be researching these amazing texts, special books, and first editions, as well as purchasing them. This could be the figurative “rabbit hole” for me. My relationship with readable books is enough without bringing an additional obsession with ancient and valuable books too. *sigh*

If you are interested in finding out more about this book, the author Allison Hoover Bartlett, and Amazon purchasing info, link to Layers of Thought’s Preview of The Man Who Loved Books too Much.


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

everyone has seemed to enjoy this book. your review really wants me to get down to business and start reading it, but it will have to stay in line a bit longer :)

Unknown said...

Diane -
It has taken me two months to get to it. I received it in August.

Its really and easy read. I hope you like it as much as I did. She is really a talented writer. Very articulate and accessible.

Anonymous said...

I've not heard of this book, but your review makes me want to read it. Only think is that I will probably get too into the world of books as well. Thanks for sharing this with us, Shellie.

Lisa said...

I have seen this book from time to time in cyber space but your review actually makes me want to read it!! I'm not even kidding!

Great job, Shellie.

Unknown said...

Nicole -
I just love quirky reads... this was so fun.

Lisa -
Well thank you...
I have unusual taste. If you do read it I sure hope you enjoy it as much as I do. I am thinking that you may miss the 60's and 70's references because of your wonderful youthful age...:)
But you can always Google any questions.

Alexia561 said...

I've seen this book mentioned before but thought it might be too dry for my tastes. Am intrigued by your review, as I love quirky reads! May have to rethink this one and pick it up after all. Thanks for the great review!

Unknown said...

Alexia -
I will look for your review. It will be interesting to see if you enjoy it a much as I did. :)

Aarti said...

I've seen this one reviewed many places in the past few months. It sounds so fun! I will have to see if I can find it somewhere.

Unknown said...

Aarti -
I think you will like it but be prepared to have two entire chapters reference the 60's and 70's which may be tedious for you....or not :)

Charlie said...

We readers tend to love books about books because . . . well, we love books!

I think that's the reason Carlos Ruiz Zafon's two books are so popular with readers.

Unknown said...

Charlie -
I have yet to read anything by Zafon yet but he's in the pile... the gigantic overwhelmingly wonderful pile. :)

Bleuette said...

I've seen this book mentioned, they it say it's a pretty good book.

Unknown said...

Maria -
It is. I really enjoyed it. But I would imagine not everyone will.
I will be curious to see what you think if you decide to read it. :)

Krista said...

Oh, I may have to get this one! Great review!

And, what? you can love books too much! I never heard of such a thing ;)

Unknown said...

Krista -
You have to read the book to see. The guy is a nut case. Very interesting. :)

@parridhlantern said...

Shellie I'm confused, how can you love books too much ?.
seriously though loved the piece.

Unknown said...

Parish -
I am thinking if you are obsessed to the point of illegal activities and mental illness then its a done deal. It is officially too much.

You also should be able to find the kitchen sink and toilet. Which is another story altogether... lol.

This was such a fun read. But sadly not everyone liked it as much as me.

Thanks for stopping by :)

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