Friday, September 18, 2009

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

Allison Hoover Bartlett has written a terrific book, part detective story, part delving into obsessive behavior, and all interesting!

“The Man Who Loved Books Too Much- The True Story of a Thief, a Detective and a World of Literary Obsession” is the true story of John Charles Gilkey, a book thief extraordinaire, who knew what books he wanted and did whatever it took to get them. Using stolen credit card numbers, placing telephone orders, and collecting his books, Gilkey hit many rare book stores, amassing an incredible array of books we would all kill for.

Ken Sanders, a book dealer, and self appointed “biblio-dick” is the detective who hunted Gilkey and let booksellers know the danger he posed to their prizes.

Gilkey stole rare maps from libraries, books from dealers, and conventions, collecting from a list, books he may never have read but wanted to own. Possession seemed the goal, just having them around him made him feel smarter than the normal guy on the street. Maybe he was smart.. He managed to fool so many people, and the police, seeing it as a minor crime, did not seem to take the thefts seriously, but Gilkey stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of books. As someone who never stole anything, I find it hard to understand the need to steal something that you don’t use, need, but just want.

Allison Hoover Bartlett’s book is an amazing journey through the the mind of thief and into the world of rare books. It is painstakingly written, and wonderful to read.

If you love books, as I do (no stealing allowed) get this book! It is a terrific look into obsession, books and booksellers.

Thanks to Lydia Hirt at Riverhead Books for this wonderful read!


  1. This sounds really unique and interesting. Lovely review!

  2. I so want to read this! :-) this is the second review I've seen in the past few days and it just looks like so much fun.

  3. Me too Marie. Is it possible to love books too much though?

  4. judging from the thousands of books I have, I'd say it is not..but I draw the line at stealing!

  5. Great review. I have heard of this book and I will check it out.

  6. Thanks for the enthusiastic review! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. If you're interested in reading more stories about book thieves, please visit my website: