- Paperback: 661 pages
- Publisher: Fine Books Press; Revised with a New Preface by ed. edition (30 May 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0979949157
- ISBN-13: 978-0979949159
- Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 13.5 x 3.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 721,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books Paperback – 30 May 2012
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Nicholas Basbanes has become our leading authority of books about books. -- David McCullough "Pulitzer Prize winning biographer and historian"
A Gentle Madness--compulsory for anyone seriously interested in books or curious about the manic nature of collecting. -- Philip Kopper "The New York Times Book Review"
A Gentle Madness is chock-a-block with such strange and appealing characters, each more wonderful than the last. -- Michael Dirda "The Washington Post Book World"
A surprising number of these stories involve nefarious dealings and vicious rivalries, proving that even in our digitized age, books arouse intense emotions, from worship to greed. -- Donna Seaman "Booklist"
A massive, comprehensive, and wonderfully readable history of book collecting and collectors. -- David Walton "The Philadelphia Inquirer"
If anyone in the United States is truly a book person, surely it is Nicholas A. Basbanes. -- Martin Rubin "Los Angeles Times"
From the Inside Flap
When first published, A Gentle Madness astounded and delighted readers about the passion and expense a collector is willing to make in pursuit of the book. Written before the emergence of the Internet but newly updated for the 21st Century reader, A Gentle Madness captures that last moment in time when collectors pursued their passions in dusty bookshops and street stalls, high stakes auctions, and the subterfuge worthy of a true bibliomaniac. An adventure among the afflicted, A Gentle Madness is vividly anecdotal and thoroughly researched. Nicholas Basbanes brings an investigative reporter's heart to illuminate collectors past and present in their pursuit of bibliomania. Now a timeless classic of collecting, no lover of books can miss A Gentle Madness.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
There was the book thief who stole nineteen tons of valuable books and manuscripts from university libraries over two decades, not to sell, but for his own library. When he was finally arrested, the police began to notify the libraries of their recovered property, and it was the first time many of the libraries realized that the items had been missing.
There was Aaron Lansky, the man who dedicated his life to collecting as many books in Yiddish as he could, warehouses full, to keep what had been a dying language from being forgotten. Due in part to his efforts, Yiddish is no longer in danger, or at least its death has been delayed.
Another collector gave her collection to a university, but she refused to leave the books. She stayed with them at the university until she died.
Book collectors, and collectors in general, are a little bit insane. Some of them want to "complete" their collections, an impossible task. Others are simply obsessed with having more than anyone else. One collector in the book admitted that he'd been a compulsive gambler but collecting books had replaced his gambling habit. Another collector compared collecting to alcoholism. Several admitted that they had no special interest in books, but that they liked the hunt and capture of the objects, whether they were books, furniture, paintings, etc. Few of them ever read any of their hard-won books.
Having plunged directly into the second half of the book, I returned to the somewhat intimidating first half, and discovered that there have been obsessed book collectors since there have been books.Read more ›