- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (September 17, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1594488916
- ISBN-13: 978-1594488917
Rare-book theft is even more widespread than fine-art theft. Most thieves, of course, steal for profit. John Charles Gilkey steals purely for the love of books. In an attempt to understand him better, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged herself into the world of book lust and discovered just how dangerous it can be. Gilkey is an obsessed, unrepentant book thief who has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of rare books from book fairs, stores, and libraries around the country. Ken Sanders is the self-appointed “bibliodick” (book dealer with a penchant for detective work) driven to catch him. Bartlett befriended both outlandish characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, she has woven this entertaining cat-and-mouse chase into a narrative that not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes, where he stashed the loot, and how Sanders ultimately caught him but also explores the romance of books, the lure to collect them, and the temptation to steal them. Immersing the reader in a rich, wide world of literary obsession, Bartlett looks at the history of book passion, collection, and theft through the ages, to examine the craving that makes some people willing to stop at nothing to possess the books they love.
I found myself doubtful at reading a non-fiction book. To tell the truth, I think they are too slow, and when I read I want to escape real life. I thought this was just going to be a book about someone who just collects their favorite books. When I first started reading it though, I found similarities in this man and my obsession with books. I thought to myself, OMG! That could so be me! I love the part where he describes how people love to show off their bookcases and calls them my library! I am constantly showing off my new books and I am always telling my husband that we need a library room. I would be in heaven! Frankly, it scares me now. Am I destined to be a book thief? No. Do I collect books? Yes. I am obsessed with collecting books. If I find a great author, I instantly want to own every book this author has published. I even have a shelf of books, which my family knows it as ‘Touch-this-shelf-and I-chop-off-your-hands!’ shelf, that includes my ARCs and signed copies. Would I ever steal them from someone? No. So, I am overjoyed to know that I am not that bad. This book opened my eyes to the many amazing books that we hold so dear and rare. To think people actually pay up in the hundreds of thousands for some books. I can see where someone would want to own them, but I don’t think I could go so far as to steal them as this man has. This is a true story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession just like the subtitle states. You will get sucked in from the first chapter all the way to the last. Be warned though, you may not like the similarities in the book thief and yourself!