‘Loved’ shows the dark side of obsession

Scott Viau

Bibliophiles across the world know exactly the feeling of what it is to love a book. The crisp pages, the certain smell, the creased spine that shows just exactly how much the book has been read and enjoyed. The true story of “The Man Who Loved Books Too Much” shows the darker side of the love of books comes out with a tale of a man who’ll do anything to satiate his climbing desire to obtain the rare and obscure.

John Gilkey is a man who has a desire to obtain the best of the best when it comes to books, and he’ll do anything he can to obtain them. After securing a job at Saks Fifth Avenue, Gilkey was able to obtain the credit card information of the store’s rich clientele. He then used that information for his own nefarious needs as he called rare book dealers across the city of Los Angeles and placed orders for books worth thousands of dollars. At a book fair, journalist Allison Bartlett comes across the tale of Gilkey from booksellers who have been swindled by him. Taking a deep interest, Bartlett takes it upon herself to get to the bottom of why a man would risk his freedom for books.

The picture Bartlett paints, not only on Gilkey, but about rare book dealers in general is truly fascinating. We are given an inside look at how these dealers operate and the means they’re clients are willing to go to obtain the truly valuable. It was even more surprising to learn that the fraudulent activities that occur are more common that than one might think.

Barlett’s writing is inviting and welcoming. She uses enough of her journalistic skills to get the story, across, yet is still able to provide enough of the human element to elevate the story to more than just a who, what and why story. Indeed, although this is a true story, none of the dry storytelling that usually accompanies nonfiction in present here.

The end result is a novel that both thrills with a detective angle, as wel as gives an interesting perspective into the wortld and fine art of rare book dealers.