Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Review: Used and Rare

After Monday's post about shopping for used books, I thought now would be an opportune time to review a recent read in my favorite genre - books about books!  This one came to me courtesy of a friend from my internet book club (Hey there Nesties!) almost a year ago.  I should have picked it up a long time ago, but I've been saving it for a rainy day.

After I read Mockingjay, I knew it was the perfect time to pick this one up.  The topic (used and rare books) is something I'm interested in, but with a little less emotional devastation.  It's taken me a while to finish, even though it's very short (212 pages in paperback) because I've been reading a bunch of fiction along with it.  But it was the perfect post-Mockingjay read.  And the good news is that (at my favorite used book store, obvs) I found some other titles by the authors.

Basically the book covers the entry of two book lovers into the world of used and rare books.  They start off dabbling in used book stores, like me.  They pick and choose beautiful books in good condition that they want to stock their home library with.  As they explore further, they learn about collecting as a hobby and eventually make some pretty large scale purchases.  By the end of the book they've gone back to buying more casually, but the story of how they meet various collectors, buyers, agents, etc is fascinating if you're at all interested in collecting seriously or as a hobby. 

My one word of caution is for those who read exclusively fiction: this is non-fiction.  This is not a fast-paced adventure story.  It's about people who go to antiquarian book fairs and the people they meet there.  No wild stories or action.  Lots of talk about bindings and page foxing and classics.  I refuse to use the word dry because for me this is fascinating.  And this certainly isn't just a manual or a guide to collecting.  But if you don't like non-fiction or if you're not into old books or the classics, it may not appeal to you. 

However, this one is a definite recommend for serious readers, collectors, or those who love books about books.  You'll learn a lot about what is involved in owning, purchasing, and selling antique and rare books, and also enjoy the stories about the people the Lawrences meet along the way. 

1 comment:

  1. I don't have it, but The Man Who Loved Books Too Much sounds like it'd be similar.