The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

 I just finished a book that I loved and made me think, so I wanted to share.  It’s called The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett.

It was a seriously fast read, but the author, a journalist, did a great job and made me think.  To me, that makes the story a success.  The book itself is a true story about a man who stole rare books for the status of owning them and the pure love of old books.

Bartlett does a really good job of presenting the difference between loving the story and loving the physical book itself, which got me thinking.  Which one am I?  Is one superior to the other?  I hope I love the writing, the plot, the characters more than the paper and binding itself.  I beautiful book can fail to grab my attention and leave little impact on my literary memory.  But an aged leather binding and pages worn soft by people fingers before me who cherished the book like I do is so appealing.  I certainly prefer to hold a book in my hands and read than read on the computer or ebook device, and I did my entire Masters degree online.  It would seem to demonstrate a leaning towards one side of the argument in my case.

Would I steal for my love of books?  No.  But do I maybe understand why people steal books?  Perhaps.  Gilkey, the main character, remained a confused and mentally distorted character for me.  I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t care about what’s between the covers of the books they steal, but perhaps that is what made the book so inticing for me.

In an age where temporary digital-ness is replacing everything it seems, the fact that stealing books is a growing crime shows how important and powerful they still are even for Gilkey who sought social status rather than intellectual growth by owning them.  Seriously consider picking the text if you are a fellow book or literature lover.  It won’t disappoint.

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