I finished The Man Who Loved Books Too Much yesterday afternoon and have been wondering how to review it. It’s an interesting read and it’s all true. But I’m not very impressed with the behavior of the author, a San Francisco-based writer named Allison Hoover Bartlett.
John Gilkey is a book thief operating primarily out of the San Francisco area, and Ken Sanders is a bookseller from Utah who helps catch him. Bartlett gets to meet both men, and attempts to give us insights as to why Gilkey does what he does. But, in her desire to “tell the story” not “be the story,” she freely admits that she would feel awkward about turning him in when she knows he’s still stealing books. Simply put, Bartlett doesn’t want to get involved. She tells us ad nauseum how torn she is between getting the story and doing what’s right, but in the end, she sides with the story. It is, to be sure, an interesting story, and Bartlett does a good job telling it, but I’m saddened at her attitude that the story is more important than doing the right thing.