The person referenced by the title is a book thief with a penchant for rare books. He steals credit card numbers and then orders rare books with them. It’s a scam that worked amazingly – and scarily – well. He “acquired” hundreds of books, but not for the pleasure of reading them. Simply for the pleasure of owning them, accompanied by the impressed opinion that others would have of him upon seeing his taste in books. As beautiful as old books are, that’s the one thing I don’t understand about those who collect rare books. Why would you own hundreds or thousands of books with no intention of reading them?
Allison Hoover Bartlett does a great job of introducing us to the world of rare books. She traces the parallel journeys of John Gilkey, the book thief, and those bookstore owners who are desperately trying to catch him. She explores the reasons behind collecting rare books – both legal and illegal. And she finds herself being drawn into the realm of rare book collecting.
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much is a fascinating look at rare books and the people that love them to the point of obsession.