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Books: A Memoir Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 8, 2008

3.6 out of 5 stars 71 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, July 2008: It wasn't enough for Pulitzer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry to become one of the most prolific, bestselling, and beloved of American writers. Besides writing nearly forty books, including the Pultizer Prize-winning novel Lonesome Dove, he has emerged as one this nation's greatest bookmen. In Books: A Memoir, McMurtry shares with readers his lifelong passion and dogged pursuit of books. In short, gem-like chapters, he paints a fascinating picture of the landscape of American book culture and book selling over a 50-year period. The story is as dusty, musty and crusty as any of McMurtry's fictionalized Westerns, and filled with characters who seem like they stepped out of central casting. Whether you love McMurtry, books, bookstores or a combination thereof, you'll find something to love in Books: A Memoir. Settle in with a cuppa coffee and let McMurtry kindle your passion for physical books. --Lauren Nemroff

From Bookmarks Magazine

Despite McMurtry’s well-deserved reputation as a writer, including a Pulitzer Prize and more than a handful of best sellers, critics are unsure about his latest effort. They cite it as an uneven volume that glosses over some important characters and anecdotes (or, conversely, delves a bit too much into the details of book collecting) and doesn’t advance its purported mission of offering a “memoir” of the reticent author’s life in books. Some of the vignettes seem to have been dashed off almost as an afterthought, though McMurtry’s style can be an acquired taste. Still, even if Books doesn’t transcend its limited subject matter and won’t win over many readers not already familiar with McMurtry’s story, devotees will enjoy digging alongside the bookman, thrilling to the next great discovery.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Simon & Schuster Hardcover Ed edition (July 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416583343
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416583349
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #478,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on July 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Those of us who love books are, I think, always excited when we run across an accomplished author who shares our bibliomania and writes about it in a loving and erudite way. Larry McMurtry of Lonesome Dove and "Brokeback Mountain" (the screenplay) fame has done precisely this in his wonderful memoir Books.

Books is a memoir that traces McMurtry's life stages through his relationship with books--thousands and thousands of them, those in the library of the university he attended, those in his personal library (upwards of 30,000 volumes), those in his used and antiquarian bookstore Booked Up (300,000 and counting). Books have enriched his inner life and helped him hone his skills as an author. But they've also enriched his economic existence too, since he's been in the used book trade for nearly half a century now (something I didn't know until reading this memoir). His first book sale in 1962, for example, paid for his first son's birth.

One of the reasons I so like McMurtry's book is that it reminds me of my own life trajectory. McMurtry tells us that he was raised in an utterly bookless Texas ranch house. He never owned a book until 1942, when a guy headed off to war gave him a box of adventure stories. McMurtry was eight years old, and the minute he got the taste of the printed word in his mouth, he never looked back. I spent much of my childhood in a similarly bookless wasteland (in the south, not the southwest), and as I read McMurtry's description of his growing excitement, absorption, and sense of liberation in the magic of books once he discovered them, it was as if I was reading about myself. And, like all good books about books, this one makes me want to read books it mentions.
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Format: Hardcover
Larry McMurtry (now age 72) has a long-established and well-honored career as an author and Hollywood screenwriter (including winning an Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain"), but for some reason it had never occurred to him that people might want to read about his joy of and for books, and collecting them. That has finally corrected with this book.

In "Books: A Memoir" (259 pages), McMurtry brings his tales of how he fell in love reading books, growing up in Archer City, TX, and how that love eventually lead to becoming a book scout, dealer and eventually book store owner, Booked Up in Georgetown, in DC, starting in the early 70s. The book is a delight to read from start to finish, bringing out his love for reading (and writing) but just as importantly collecting. In that sense, this could be applied to many other fields (as I love scouring used vinyl and CD bins for that rare album find). The book is made up of 108 chapters, which fly by mostly in a couple of pages. His memories of what it was like to scout for books in the 60s and 70s are just a delight.

McMurtry and his business partner eventually established the Booked Up store in Washington, more specifically on 31th & M in Georgetown. What memories this brings back to me. I was a grad student in Washington in the mid-80s, and remember going there, not buying much, but simply amazed at the wealth of books in the store. As McMurthy describes in the book, Booked Up left Georgetown (due primarily to rising lease expenses) and is now in his home town of Archer City, TX. Not sure that I will make it out there anytime soon. That said, "Books: A Memoir" is a fantastic read. Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
McMurtry's works are erratically brilliant, sometimes downright bad, but this is a huge disappointment. Sloppy, badly in need of an editor (how many Bostwana "late" references do we need?), way too random and dropping names so frequently that we either don't know or don't care about...the whole effect is "who cares?" And I happen to love books, frequent second hand booksellers and have some familiarity with the turf described.To say nothing of being -- more times than not -- a fan of McMurtry's. But this book is hardly a memoir and, frankly, if not for the author's fame, I seriously doubt this would have ever been published. It's that big a waste of time.
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If one of the purposes of a book is to leave an impression of one kind or another, McMurtry's "Books" accomplished just that. I found this book to be a satisfying and influential read that left me curious and desiring to be a book collector. The stories are entertaining, educational, vividly portrayed, and descriptive. Like most of his books, I felt drawn into the world of which he was writing and wanted to be a part of that world.

This is a typical reaction to the writing of Larry McMurtry. Having met Mr. McMurty and experienced a conversation about books with him, I enjoyed hearing his voice in my head as he described the years of book collecting, buying and selling, and the multiple encounters with various characters. Without being preachy or philosophical, McMurtry tends to make the reader draw his own conclusions or judgments about people's actions and behavior. His objective and almost random interjections of difficulties and successes in book trading make "Books" a fascinating study in development of this admirable profession. Added to this study is a smooth prose with an eclectic and seamless blend of common and academic style--making it appropriate for all kinds of people.

I found this book to be a fascinating look at book collecting with an obvious love of books shining forth from beginning to end. Although I did find the ending to be rather anticlimactic, typical of McMurtry's style incidentally, throughout the book I found myself wanting to be there and experience similar events.

I am giving this book 4 stars due to the tendency to have too many names and events that didn't always add to the overall direction of the book. Overall, a worthwhile reading experience and I have yet to be disappointed with a McMurtry book.
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