A few months ago, I read The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession by Allison Hoover Bartlett. It’s the true story of John Charles Gilkey, who loves rare books so much that he steals them. Gilkey doesn’t want to read the books, he simply wants to have them and since he cannot afford them, he steals them, he commits credit card fraud, he creates new identities… just to take possession of rare books. Gilkey is a repeat offender and has been to prison more than once because of his obsession. As far as a book review, I didn’t care for the author’s writing style but it’s an interesting story.
I have always loved old books; the way they smell, a name written on the inside cover long ago, and the beautiful book jacket art. Reading The Man Who Loved Books Too Much spurred my interest in searching for first editions when I am in antique stores and I’m in antique stores a lot.
Over Memorial Day weekend, Deren and I went into an antique store in Bend, Oregon. The shop was a jumble of old jewelry, clothes, knickknacks and books. I saw a copy of The Caine Mutiny with a colorful dust jacket. I’ve never read The Caine Mutiny nor have I seen the movie. I didn’t know that it was written by Herman Wouk. I didn’t know it is set in WWII. I didn’t know it won the Pulitzer in 1951. The copy I found is in impeccable shape. It doesn’t look like it’s ever been read and it is a first edition. I picked up the book and had Deren plop down the $9 asking price and stuck it in my purse and we continued on to a restaurant for lunch.
OK, so it’s not a Picasso from a garage sale but it’s still pretty cool. I think I’m gonna sell it. Right?