Book Club Kits
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much
by Bartlett, Allison Hoover
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1. What motivates Bartlett's quest to uncover the stories behind the high profile book thefts? How does this motivation change over the course of the book? Did you find yourself at times sympathizing with or feeling pity for Gilkey? Why or why not?
2. From the lens of our culture, what does a library full of old and collectable books say about us (our identities)? Why might we be willing to buy into this projection? Why might we still cling to the idea of personal libraries equating to genteel status or wealth?
3. Why is Gilkey so eager to share his story, including his motivations and theft strategy, with Bartlett? Though it would only increase his profile and make it harder for him to remain anonymous as a thief, what does he stand to gain by telling all?
4. Why does Gilkey look at his fellow book collectors as his enemies rather than fellow connoisseurs or friends? Contrast his antagonistic, predatory relationship with them to the cordial, extended family-like treatment other collectors extend to each other at book fairs and other gatherings.
5. What ultimately drives Ken Sanders to take on the crusade to nail Gilkey? How would you answer the author who seeks to understand why Gilkey is "so passionate about books...he would put his freedom on the line for them" and why Sanders is "so determined to catch him...[he'd put] the financial stability of his store on the line for it"?
6. Do you think Bartlett had an ethical obligation to share the details Gilkey revealed to her with the authorities or other booksellers? Do you agree with her rationalization as she shifted "from an observer to participant in Gilkey's story?"
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