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.