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Download The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession Audiobook, by Allison Hoover Bartlett Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,303 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Allison Hoover Bartlett Narrator: Judith Brackley Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2010 ISBN: 9781400183432
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John Charles 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. Journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett befriended both eccentric characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, she not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes 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 listener 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. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • [Brackley's] soft voice, often near a toned whisper, adds the right atmosphere to a biography of a creepy man and a reporter's long search for his motive. AudioFile
  • “A captivating cat-and-mouse game and a fascinating exploration of why people are so passionate about books.”

    Julia Flynn Siler, New York Times bestselling author of The House of Mondavi

  • “Bartlett’s sketches of bibliomania are breezily drawn and often fascinating.”

    New York Times

  • “Tautly written, wry, and thoroughly compelling, The Man Who Loved Books Too Much unfolds like a great mystery.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “[An] excellent tale of people’s intimate, complex, and sometimes dangerous relationships to books.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Brackley’s enthusiasm is welcome; she excels when exploring the minutiae and arcana of the book collecting subculture.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “[Brackley’s] soft voice, often near a toned whisper, adds the right atmosphere to a biography of a creepy man and a reporter’s long search for his motive.”

    AudioFile

  • A Library Journal Best Audiobook
  • A Library Journal Best Book

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Valley Cottage Library | 2/9/2014

    " What keeps a librarian up at night? John Gilkey is the answer. Gilkey is a subject of this true crime tale of book theft. While primarily stealing from rare book stores, libraries are not safe from the bibliomania of this man that led him to be incarcerated again and again for the same crimes - book theft. The author befriends Gilkey and takes the reader not only into his world where he feels that it is his right to possess these books, but the reader also journeys into the world of the booksellers who the victims of the crimes. One judge terms theft of book as crimes against humanity because these books often are never recovered. What made me read this book now? An announcement on a library discussion list that Gilkey was just released from prison and for book industry folks to be on the alert. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Anne | 1/31/2014

    " The synopsis for this book reminded me of Edward Dolnick's books about art theft. Though this time, with books as the object of desire, I figured it was even more up my alley. This book focuses on John Gilkey, a man obsessed with books - not necessarily for their stories, but for their value. He fancies himself a sort of aristocrat who deserves the life and respect he believes comes with owning rare first editions and other highly sought after collectors items. He makes his way through book shows and used bookstores swindling owners left and right. The author meets with him in prison in an effort to understand why he steals. In addition she meets with the man who hunted Gilkey down, as well as various booksellers to understand the world of bookselling, and to uncover how such a wide-spread deception could occur. While the fundamental premise of this book is fascinating to me - unfortunately, I did not feel completely satisfied with the execution. I thought that the author touched on the psychological problems Gilkey suffered from and made an effort to speak to his family hoping to uncover more. In the end, however, I thought the book posed more questions than answers. This did, however, open my eyes to an entirely new world with respect to book loving. I don't really understand the value in old books - I just like them for their stories - though I do appreciate some good cover art. I'm not a collector of objects, so paying large sums for books that will never actually be touched or read is foreign to me. I thought the author explored this well - why Gilkey would become enamored with such a world, and how the various players in this world interact. I think so much more could have been done with the book, but it is an interesting story about a very strange character. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Glenda | 1/31/2014

    " I saw this on the library shelf, was intrigued and am pleased I decided to read it. Allison Bartlett does a great job of writing an interesting story about rare books, a true life book thief and the book seller whose passion involves catching thieves as well as selling rare books. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom Buske | 1/29/2014

    " A pretty good story of the identity thief who uses stolen credit card information to buy rare books and, to his mind, establish his reputation as a gentleman and scholar. His complete and utter lack of remorse is somewhat interesting. What isn't so much is all the rumination on why books fascinate collectors so. I guess I don't have a lot of interest in that question, a fact that was brought home when it was mentioned that book collectors rarely read the books they collect. As an indefatigable reader, this to me is literally judging a book by it's cover. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bradley | 1/27/2014

    " If you're a book lover, or even a collector, this may be an interesting book for you to read. It's about a book thief who will stop at nothing to collect books. But much more. I thouhgt that book was fine however the author Bartlett seemed to me more of a bubble gum journalist instead of a Morely Safer or Edward Murrow.... This is a quick read, so you could do worse this summer. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy Gehman | 1/20/2014

    " A fascinating true story of a man who stole books, mostly from dealers who sold rare and antiquarian books. It's also the story of the difficulty in catching him. And the author interviewed the thief multiple times, and why since he couldn't afford to buy the books, why he thought it was OK to steal them. Very interesting "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Stacey | 1/20/2014

    " I very much enjoyed learning about the world of rare books and their collectors. Found myself wanting to go out and search for first editions and signed copies. The story of the book thief himself was somewhat less intriguing. Overall a recommended read for any book lover. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ginny | 1/18/2014

    " I read about half of this book. It's interesting and something I will probably pick up and finish reading at some point. I just wasn't feeling the non-fiction piece of it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kevin Waggoner | 1/10/2014

    " Wonderful story telling. A great story. Not as suspenseful as I had hoped, but a passionate author with a story for the bibliomaniac in all of us. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa | 1/10/2014

    " An interesting, somewhat creepy book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lahni | 12/7/2013

    " I loved being introduced to the fascinating world of rare book collecting. Gilkey was and always will be a book thief. The author's insights and methods added to the experience. It made me want to run my hands over some really old books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christina (GrtNPwrfulOz) | 12/1/2013

    " Easy read great for bibliophiles of all degrees. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David Eppenstein | 12/1/2013

    " If you're really interested in books on books you should read the work of John Dunning and his Bookman series. As for this book it was okay but nothing to write home about. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Jeannine | 11/17/2013

    " This isn't a book, it's the notes for a book. Trivially written with an intrusive narrator. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrea | 9/30/2013

    " An interesting story, not told quite as coherently as I would have liked. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Cybersandee | 4/21/2013

    " Non-fiction story about a book thief. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Patty | 3/22/2013

    " The story as a whole was good, but it got too repetitious. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Martha | 1/12/2013

    " Not what I expected.... Gives a good insight into collecting books though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 11/21/2012

    " Very informative on the world of book collecting, and quite fascinating overall. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Katelyn | 11/9/2012

    " Eh. Interesting true story. I had some ethical issues with the portrayals, however. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Eric | 9/18/2012

    " Interesting hook into the world of rare books, as well as the obsessions that propel it. Light and quick read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 William Powers | 4/6/2012

    " A mystery book about books! What more do you need? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laura | 6/24/2011

    " I met the "biblio-detective" at a book club program before reading this book. It was interesting to me, but it probably wouldn't be interesting to most people. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara | 6/20/2011

    " Clear writing and excellent research, Barlett tells the true story of a man who stole books! She gives great background to book collectors, old editions, book fairs, and the entire book collecting fanatic! I loved it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Micaela | 6/17/2011

    " What a great book! This was as interesting as a detective novel. I really enjoyed reading this!! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Judy | 5/29/2011

    " It was an interesting concept - the story of a book thief who rationalized his stealing because of his desire to own marvelous old books - however, Bartlett couldn't keep herself out of the stroy and she was a huge distraction. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 5/29/2011

    " Interesting book. Has a local area connection. Made me look at my book collection (ha!) differently. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Dan | 5/26/2011

    " A fun read, to be sure. Fascinating to learn about the world of rare books. But must confess, this is one of those books you should not judge by the cover: the cover is far more intriguing than the book itself. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Robert | 5/21/2011

    " This book misses the opportunity to provide insight into the world of antiquarian book dealers and the subculture of fraud, theft and obsession that constitutes its dark side. Instead, Bartlett provides an exploration of her own identity. Well written, but not what it purports to be. "

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About the Author
Author Allison Hoover Bartlett

Allison Hoover Bartlett works as a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Salon, the San Francisco Magazine, Alternative Health, and other publications. Her story about a rare book thief that was published in San Francisco Magazine was included in Best American Crime Reporting 2007. Bartlett is a cofounder of the writing group North 24th, and she works at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two children.

About the Narrator

Judith Brackley worked in major market radio for twenty years as an announcer, program director, and producer for commercial broadcast outlets and NPR affiliates. She has numerous radio spots, industrial voice-overs, and narrations to her credit, including for the Prudential Insurance Company, Gillette, Hewlett-Packard, Polaroid, and National Geographic. She is also a nationally published writer.