- Paperback: 638 pages
- Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (March 15, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780805061765
- ISBN-13: 978-0805061765
- ASIN: 0805061762
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.9 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 22 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,286,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books Paperback – March 15, 1999
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"Nicholas A. Basbanes has compiled a wonderful gallery of eccentrics, isolatos, charmers and visionaries . . . an ingratiating and altogether enjoyable book." --Michael Dirda, The Washington Post Book World
"A Gentle Madness is an impressive achievement in its compilation of vast information, as well as being instructive and interesting. It is compulsory for anyone seriously interested in books or curious about the manic nature of collecting." --Philip Kopper, The New York Times Book Review
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22 customer reviews
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The title alone is fantastic. I can think of no better way to describe the often illogical mania people like me have for books. We are, I think mad in many ways and yet it is a non-threatening sort of madness. I have been crazy about books since I was a little boy and used to gaze up at my parents crowded book shelves in the living room. And to this day, when I have a couple of minutes to spare, I love to glance over the titles in my own library at home, reminiscing about past reads and anticipating future adventures. A gentle madness indeed.
Mr Basbanes does a fantastic job of cataloguing most of the famous and infamous bibliomaniacs in history. He describes the famous historical collectors as well as modern examples. He discusses what they do and how they do it and somehow is able to get into their psyches and examine why they do it. Of course not all are the same but they all do seem to share the same indescribable love for books. Some collect for the benefit of mankind while others do it for their own bragging rights. I enjoyed reading about the collections that 19th and 20th century collectors put together, fantasizing about what it would be like to be rich enough to build the kind of library they could. But I think I preferred reading about the more common person who put aside other pleasures of life in order to pursue their passion on a more modest basis. I guess I identify more with them. I also enjoyed the story of Stephen Blumberg, known as the most successful book thief of the 20th century. He had stolen more than $20 million dollars worth of books from libraries all over North America before being arrested in Riverside California in the early 1990s. In his mind he was accumulating a collection and preferred to think of the books as on an inter-library loan. This was definitely a gentle madman.
If you love to read or to collect books and would like to know more about others who do so...grab this one and don't let go!
It is a book about bibliophiles and bibliomanes and in itself is a book one could become addicted to.
To my mind it would be an absolute luxury to have had the time to indulge myself in the slow relaxed perusal of this comforting, extremely enjoyable, erudite and perfectly expressed work.The author appears to have acquired detailed knowledge of book collectors and collections throughout the world and throughout world history, and we are regaled with both amusing and more sombre tales of the lives and fates of those suffering from the book collecting passion or mania.
We come to understand that bibliomania is not just a passion and luxury hobby but an illness, an addiction on a par with alcoholism, drug addiction and the gambling habit.Some have even elected to endure a dreary life of poverty and personal neglect, dying of cold and hunger in the midst of a treasure of invaluable books. Some have died and at least one has murdered in order to indulge this addiction.
What can I say? If you lead a leisurely life of relaxation where you can absolutely give yourself over to your reading habits and desires, and there can't be that many of these people in these stressful days, then indulge yourself in the purchase of this book. Highly recommended for the book-lover, if you have time to read it!