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Books: A Memoir

Books: A Memoir

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Books: A Memoir

évaluations:
3.5/5 (41 évaluations)
Longueur:
249 pages
3 heures
Sortie:
Jun 1, 2010
ISBN:
9781451607673
Format:
Livre

Description

Larry McMurtry’s fascinating and surprisingly intimate memoir of his lifelong passion of buying, selling, and collecting rare antiquarian books is “a necessary and marvelous gift” (San Antonio Express-News).

Spanning a lifetime of literary achievement, Larry McMurtry has succeeded at a wide variety of genres, from coming-of-age novels, such as The Last Picture Show; to essays, like those in In a Narrow Grave; to the reinvention of the “Western” on a grand scale like the Pulitzer Prize–winning Lonesome Dove. Here at last is the private McMurtry writing about himself as a boy growing up in a largely “bookless” world, as a young man devouring the world of literature, as a fledgling writer and family man, and above all as one of America’s most prominent “bookmen.” He brings the reader along on his journeys to becoming an astute and adventurous collector who would eventually open book stores of rare and collectible books in Georgetown, Houston, and finally in his previously “bookless” hometown of Archer City, Texas.

Reading Books is like reading the best kind of diary—full of wonderful anecdotes, amazing characters, spicy gossip, and shrewd observations. Like its author, Books is erudite, full of life, and full of great stories. Yet the most curious tale of all is the amazing transformation of a reluctant young cowboy into a world-class literary figure who has spent his life not only writing books, but rounding them up the way he once rounded up cattle. At once chatty, revealing, and deeply satisfying, Books is Larry McMurtry at his best.
Sortie:
Jun 1, 2010
ISBN:
9781451607673
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Larry McMurtry is the author of more than thirty novels, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Lonesome Dove. He has also written memoirs and essays, and received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for his work on Brokeback Mountain.

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BOOKS:

A MEMOIR

Larry McMurtry

SIMON & SCHUSTER PAPERBACKS

A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

1230 Avenue of the Americas

New York, NY 10020

www.SimonandSchuster.com

Copyright © 2008 by Larry McMurtry

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or

portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information, address

Simon & Schuster Paperbacks Subsidiary Rights Department,

1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020.

First Simon & Schuster trade paperback edition July 2009

SIMON & SCHUSTER PAPERBACKS and colophon are registered trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

For information about special discounts for bulk purchases,

please contact Simon & Schuster Special Sales at

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Designed by Dana Sloan

Manufactured in the United States of America

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows:

McMurtry, Larry.

  Books : a memoir / Larry McMurtry.—1st Simon & Schuster hardcover ed.

  p. cm.

  1. McMurtry, Larry—Books and reading. 2. McMurtry, Larry—Childhood and youth. 3. Antiquarian booksellers—United States—Biography. 4. Novelists, American—20th century—Biography. 5. McMurtry, Larry—Homes and haunts—Texas. I. Title.

  PS3563.A319Z46 2008

  813'.54—dc22

ISBN 978-1-4165-8334-9

ISBN 978-1-4165-8335-6 (pbk)

eISBN-13: 978-1-4516-0767-3

For the faithful

Marcia Carter

William F. Hale and Candee Harris

Khristal Collins

and

Julie and Cody Ressell of Three Dog Books,

without whose efforts there would be no Booked Up

And from the Bookstop in Tucson, Arizona

Claire

Tina

Kate

Rachel (emerita)

May they ever flourish.

BOOKS: A MEMOIR

1

I DON’T REMEMBER either of my parents ever reading me a story—perhaps that’s why I’ve made up so many. They were good parents, but just not story readers. In 1936, when I was born, the Depression sat heavily on all but the most fortunate, a group that didn’t include us. My McMurtry grandparents were both still alive, and my mother and father and I lived in their house, which made for frequent difficulties. Sometimes there was a cook and a resident cowboy—where they bunked, I’m not sure. The fifty yards or so between the house and the barn boiled with poultry. My first enemies were hens, roosters, peacocks, turkeys. We ate lots of the hens, but our consumption of turkeys, peacocks, and roosters was, to my young mind, inexcusably slow.

I believe my grandfather, William Jefferson McMurtry, who died when I was four, did tell me stories, but they were all stories about his adventures as a Texas pioneer and, so far as I can remember, did not include imaginary beings, such as one might find in Grimm or Andersen.

My grandfather told me these stories about himself while sitting on the roof of the storm cellar, a dank cell to which we often repaired at inconvenient times—both my mother and my grandmother were paranoid about tornadoes. Any dark cloud might send us scuttling downward, into a place that, as I discovered early, was not scorpion free.

Our ranch house, which my father and my grandfather built from plans purchased from Montgomery Ward—usually the supplier was just called Monkey Ward—was a simple shotgun house, three bedrooms and a bath on the south side, simple hall, kitchen, dining room, living room on the north side. We rarely used the living room, although my grandfather was laid out in it, once he died. It did have a fireplace, into which my grandfather, before his death, often spat copiously.

As a very small child I was awed by the amount of spit he could summon—I didn’t realize that most of it was tobacco juice.

Of books there were none. Some of my older cousins tell me that my grandmother, Louisa Francis McMurtry, was a woman with lots of curiosity, who once subscribed to all the magazines. Where did they go? The only magazine I can remember seeing in the ranch house was The Cattleman, the trade journal of the range cattle industry, which once ran an article on our family called McMurtry Means Beef. Since the nine McMurtry boys were all cattlemen on varying scales, that seemed to be fair enough, even though a couple of the brothers came perilously close to being farmers: quite a different gestalt, of course. Of the three sisters only the eldest, Grace, married into agriculture. I remember visiting Aunt Grace once, and the place we visited, in the Texas panhandle, seemed to me to be a farm. But possibly it too was really a ranch.

Nothing was more evident about my father than that he hated farming, he himself being a cattleman, pure and simple, amen.

Still, it puzzles me how totally bookless our ranch house was. There must have been a Bible, but I don’t remember ever seeing it. My father did read the range cattle books of J. Frank Dobie, but the only one I remember seeing in our house, which, by this time, was a small house in the village of Archer City, was The Longhorns, which I borrowed for my father from Mr. Will Taylor, a wealthy and elderly oilman who lived in a great mansion just south of our hay field.

I now own Mr. Taylor’s mansion and have filled it with about twenty-eight thousand books, which took a while.

My father’s reason for needing a book to read in the daytime, when he would normally have been working, was that, inconveniently, he had caught mumps in his fiftieth year: thus was idleness forced upon him.

The fact of the bookless ranch house meant that before the age of five or six I lived in an aural culture. My mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, and whatever uncles or cowboys happened by, sat on the front porch every night in good weather and told stories; but they were seldom stories that held much interest for a young child. What did I care that Uncle Charlie, the oldest son, had defied his parents and been beaten with an ironweed switch, ironweed being a sturdy weed that did not fray quickly when a rebel was being switched. What Uncle Charlie did to earn this punishment I never found out, but his brothers agreed that he remained defiant, ironweed or no.

Uncle Charlie, in the fifties, would occasionally host a family reunion, always at a country club just outside the bleak panhandle town of Clarendon. Those were the only times I saw him, and I cannot remember him uttering a sound. I believe he had had some trouble with wives—enough that he had learned to hold his tongue.

2

THE CASUAL, STORYTELLING culture of my early childhood was soon augmented by a powerful new force: radio. When I was four, World War II broke out, transforming millions of lives, including the lives of the little group that gathered nightly on the porch of our ranch house. My grandfather McMurtry had died. But the rest of us, which meant a shifting population of visitors, cowboys, indigents, cousins, and the like, listened faithfully to the war news, every night.

My father, then in his forties, was too old for service, but once America entered the war, nearly everyone knew someone local who was now overseas. Our concern was high.

At the age of five or six, war news didn’t grip me much, though I was happy to be a junior plane spotter, and would often climb the windmill, expecting to see enemy aircraft swooping over the mesquite pastures and sorghum fields of home.

At the time, my aunt Naomi, one of my mother’s sisters, lived nearby with her husband, J. K. Mitchell, who was foreman of an adjacent ranch. I saw her often, along with my cousins J.K. and Mary Louise. One day, at our ranch house, my aunt casually mentioned Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, characters she seemed to assume I would be familiar with. But I wasn’t familiar with them. So far as I can now recall, they were the first imagined characters I had ever been told about.

But what exactly were they? They sounded like rabbits, in which our ranch abounded; but it abounded in long-legged, long-eared jackrabbits, none of whom fit the names Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail.

I was very puzzled by this, because I didn’t realize, at the time, that there could be made-up stories. At that point I was accustomed to concerning myself with things that clearly existed, particularly poultry, a constant threat to one as small as I was. Reality, such as it was on our ranch, required unwavering vigilance if one were not to be pecked by the poultry, kicked by a mule, or the like.

This was the age at which I might have been expected to make up an imaginary friend, but, a realist from the git-go, I failed to do this. Real things that were bad things often happened: once my father nearly cut his arm off in the thresher. I can still see him walking up from the field with one side of his shirt drenched in blood—of which he lost a lot. But he survived, and kept his arm.

Then my dog Scraps got bitten by a rattlesnake and died. This was long before the organized snake hunts, when rattlers were plentiful—with a consequent reduction of the rodent population and, unfortunately, of the small-dog population too.

Of course, far away, World War II was happening—but I did not really know what war was. At night, on the porch, while the adults tried to absorb the news of distant battles, I mainly watched the cars and trucks moving up and down Highway 281, a major Canada-to-Mexico artery. I wondered where those cars and trucks were going, day after day and night after night, endlessly, relentlessly. Many years later I answered that question and described where the road went in a book called Roads.

With the day-to-day life of our ranch being so crowded, I somehow failed to get around to fantasy—to story, to invention—until one day in 1942 when my cousin Robert Hilburn, on his way to enlist in the new war, stopped by the ranch house and gave me the gift that changed my life.

The gift was a box containing nineteen books.

3

TO MY REGRET I never got to know Robert Hilburn well. On his return from the Pacific Theater he stopped by our house again—by then we were living in Archer City—and gave me a Japanese rifle. Though an ugly thing, it was, for a time, my most prized possession, and I still have it.

I had, by this time, read the nineteen books he had given me to tatters. They were standard boys’ adventure books of the thirties, on the order of Jerry Todd in the Whispering Cave or Poppy Ott and the Stuttering Parrot. The first book I actually read was an adventure involving the Canadian Mounties, called Sergeant Silk: The Prairie Scout. Some years later, while browsing in the Bookstop, in Tucson (a wonderful shop), I spotted a copy of Sergeant Silk and bought it, the copy in the original box having long since been lost.

I recall that I was sick in bed the day Robert Hilburn brought in the box of books. In my sixth and seventh years I was often in bed, closeted like a tiny Proust, while I listened to the radio from sign-on until sign-off. The necessity of taking an eighty-mile school-bus ride, in the company of older farm children whose behavior verged on the brutish, was too much for me. My parents and teachers recognized this—they let me cut the second semester of the first grade, during which we moved to Archer City, to facilitate the education of myself and the three siblings who were to follow: Sue, Judy, Charlie.

I remember that I started reading Sergeant Silk: The Prairie Scout—a random choice—the minute Robert Hilburn left my room. What I don’t remember is how I learned to read. In early 1942 I had only briefly been to school, and no one, that I can recall, bothered about teaching me my ABC’s.

Yet I could read, and reading very quickly came to seem what I was meant to do. It was a decade or more before I came to hope that books would somehow provide me with a vocation, as they have. For a long time I didn’t know what kind of vocation one could make of reading, which, after all, is still the core activity where books are concerned. I didn’t, at first, aspire to write books, and I was in my mid-twenties before I began to hope that maybe I could become an antiquarian book seller, which I have now been for about fifty years.

At first, when I began to trade in books a little, book selling was mainly a way to finance my reading: sell a book you don’t want to read and, with the money, buy a book you do want to read. I no longer need book selling to finance my reading, and yet, if worse came to worst, it would. More than three hundred thousand books are available for sale in Archer City, in the stock of Booked Up and Three Dog Books, our neighbors and friends.

It may be that the presence of all this knowledge is mostly an irritant to the locals, but there’s not much they can do about it—but this is to jump some ways ahead. There have been many stages to my life as a reader-writer-bookman, and I’d like to return for a bit to the earlier stages, when my personal library—now some twenty-eight thousand volumes strong—consisted precisely of nineteen books. Forming that library, and reading it, is surely one of the principal achievements of my life.

4

BIOLOGY MAY BE destiny, as a famous thinker claimed; but then, I would contend, geography is destiny too. I was born in a part of Texas that is essentially Midwestern. Small towns in my part of Texas don’t differ that much from towns in Kansas or Nebraska. These are towns where change comes slowly—and yet it comes.

I think it was important for the development of my reading that Robert Hilburn gave me the nineteen books while we still lived in the country—isolated, that is, from town life. I read all those books at once, and reread most of them several times. There was radio, of course, and radio was quite important in my life; but radio was aural. Where reading was concerned, the nineteen books still had a monopoly on my attention. I knew there must be other books, probably better books, somewhere, but until we moved to town I had no way to get to them.

It was only after our move to Archer City—a move my father accepted with reluctance—that we entered the middle class. On the ranch we had been more or less classless country people. The mere possession of a house in town—though it was a small, ugly house, of no distinction—changed things. First, we got a subscription to Reader’s Digest, which soon included a chance to buy Reader’s Digest Condensed Books, which I hated on sight and still hate. I always wanted the whole story or nothing.

At about the same time my mother subscribed to Good Housekeeping and Ladies’ Home Journal, indispensable sources of domestic information for the middle-class housewife of the day.

Fast on the heels of Reader’s Digest came the door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, who convinced my parents

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3.6
41 évaluations / 35 Avis
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Avis des lecteurs

  • (3/5)
    Well, sort of a memoir. The author discusses his time as an antiquarian bookseller - how he got his stock, what happened to it, etc.
  • (4/5)
    This is a lovely book, lovely in the sense that it is heartfelt. Larry McMurtry's love affair with books is palpable. Reading books about books is a genre totally designed for bibliophiles and don't we just love it! This gently rolling memoir flips randomly through a lifetime of memories about collecting, buying, living and working in the book world. My mind boggles at the number of books in Larry McMurtry's personal library, and it makes me feel better about the hundreds I've got, cluttering every flat surface in the house! Huge amounts of money are paid by buyers and collectors wanting to pay whatever is necessary to own 'that book ' and books seem to have a beautiful, secret life of their own. They drift around and around from one owner to another, sometimes disappearing for years only to resurface and create re-newed interest, again, in the market of collectibles. Larry McMurtry has indeed led a captivating life surrounded by books, he is not just a reader he needs to live and breath them to soothe his soul
  • (4/5)
    Mostly about the acquisition of books. Not so much about the reading or writing of them. Somehow this book is still an enjoyable read.
  • (4/5)
    A good book primarily on MCMurtry’s introduction to books, then his involvement in the fine book trade. Not exactly what I originally thought the book would be about, but I was pleasantly surprised. A good book...
  • (2/5)
    There were so many things I didn't like about this book, yet I still couldn't stop reading it. I've not read any of McMurty's other books, although his bibliography is certainly impressive, but I have to believe they were not written in the same style as Books: A Memoir. If they are, I'm missing something. As I started this book I kept thinking who writes like this? How did this make it through editing? About 25% of the way through I realised this was written as though it's a straight transcription of a dictation: imagine someone you know, probably an older someone, sitting in their chair, telling you stories about 'the old days'; the kind of stories where the teller gets sidetracked because he's reminded of another story. That's the narrative style of this book. There's no timeline to speak of, no narrative cohesion. The book is 259 pages long and there are 109 chapters; a few chapters are no more than a paragraph and mostly just fleeting thoughts written down as they pass through. I bought the book because I wanted memoirs of a bookseller and collector, but while I got some of that, I got a lot more "I" than I wanted. There's a lot of matter-of-fact boasting about his accomplishments, his successes and a metric ton of name dropping. If the names were rain, we'd need an ark. Now, I don't actually mind a bit of name dropping sometimes, if I have the first clue who the people actually are. But 90% of the names were other booksellers, traders, or scouts and were meaningless to me and a burden to keep track of. He writes, in chapter 101: I've chosen, for the most part, to keep this memoir personality-free. Attempting to interest twenty-first-century readers in the personalities of (mainly) twentieth-century bookmen risks making this narrative more circumscribed than I want it to be. Really? All due respect to McMurtry, but isn't that something a writer should do? Does he think so little of me as a twenty-first-century reader that he thinks I can't be interested in twentieth century bookmen? Were they that boring? Or can he just not be bothered because that would take the attention off himself? I gotta be honest, it feels like door #3 is closest to the truth. He must drop at least 100 names in this book and if any of them had any personality at all, it would have made this a much more interesting book. In spite of all this, I never actually considered DNF'ing the book; I harbour a dream of someday being a book seller myself and as such, I hunger for first hand information about others' experience. Sprinkled all too lightly throughout the 109 chapters were glimpses of just what I was looking for and I was eagerly forging my way through all the somewhat narcissistic horn blowing in order to mine these small gems. I was left at the end with the vague sense of getting what I wanted, but man, he made me work for it.
  • (5/5)
    This book sparkles like a chat with your best friend over books!
  • (2/5)
    I just didn't care about how much people will pay for books they don't even read. I want to read about stories, and libraries, and sharing - not collecting. Recommendations welcome!
  • (3/5)
    I like books. I like to read. McMurty gives an account of his love of books and reading. I particularly found interest in how McMurty describes selling and "scouting" books. Easy and fun to read ... if you like books!
  • (5/5)
    Fascinating story of the life of a libriphile or book-o-phile. Worth re-reading for book collection tips.See Taste and Technique in Book-Collecting by John Carter.See Clegg's dictionary of the world book trade
  • (4/5)
    Mr. McMurtry is a celebrated novelist (Leaving Cheyenne, The Last Picture Show), an Academy Award winner screenwriter (The Last Picture Show, Hud) and a well-known bookseller. As the title suggests this book is focused on his career as a bookseller. He divulges quite a few “insider” secrets about the book trade outside the world of major retailers and drops a few names in the process. The mention of some books that he has bought and then sold made my mouth water. How can one sell books like that? How can one not want to hold on to them for a personal library? How does one part with old friends? Obviously, being a book dealer would not be the right occupation for me!

    This book could have been a very dry book about a very specific subject matter, but as a testament to his success as a writer, I found it very informative and written in an interesting and entertaining way. A good read for anyone who loves books.
  • (3/5)
    This is McMurtry's book about books and book buying. He recounts his getting into book scouting/buying/selling while telling the stories of many of the people he met over the course of his career (as a book seller, rather than writer). He doesn't spend much time talking about his writing or his personal reading. McMurtry is also quite self conscious of how this book about books will come across and whether it would be entertaining or not. Any lover of books as physical items and the characters that deal in them will find that this a solid read.

    I would really love to make a trip to Archer City TX to see his book store in person. One day perhaps, one day...
  • (4/5)
    It was interesting hearing about secondhand books stores and the acquistions that McMurty acquired since he started.
  • (4/5)
    my first mp3. easy to download. easy to take on hols.that's why this was chosen. of course i like memoirs. this was also a story of selling books.
  • (3/5)
    McMurtry offers some insights into his education and some interesting stories about buying and selling books, but unless you are very interested in either McMurtry, bookselling or books as physical objects, this memoir is too full of references to book scouts, book sellers and book stores McMurtry has known for me to give more than three stars.
  • (3/5)
    Somewhat scattered memoir. Not very impressive.
  • (4/5)
    "Books" was a book I really shouldn't have liked. I only acquired it because I found it in the dollar bin at a major bookstore. I'm certainly not an antiquarian book aficionado. I've never read any McMurtry. Some of the books he mentions I've never heard of until now. Even with all these impediments, I enjoyed this glimpse into the book-scouting world. True, some of the anecdotes are "inside baseball." Many of the short chapters don't seem to hold together as the type of cohesive unit one would expect from a master storyteller. But I learned a lot about the bookselling 'biz while also coming to appreciate McMurtry's lifelong love affair with books.
  • (5/5)
    I've read and enjoyed several of Larry McMurtry's early books, but none for quite a few years. I laid off buying this book for a long time because it didn't look much like a real memoir. Truth is, it isn't much of a memoir, but if you're a book nerd like me then you'll love this book. It does contain some surprising admissions, like the fact that McMurtry lost his 'passion' for writing years ago. But he keeps on cranking out books (over thirty now) because that's what he does, it's his 'vocation.' He actually enjoys his book collecting a lot more, if you believe the guy. And I do. He also mentions that push-pull dilemma that often faces writers who are also dedicated (addicted?) readers. When you're writing, you'd rather be reading, and when you're reading you feel guilty that you're not writing. Been there. It's a problem. Maybe why I haven't really written anything myself (other than a journal and blurbs like these) for well over a year now. McMurtry also names plenty of names and titles of obscure writers and rare books that intrigue book folks. I've gotta find this James Lees-Milne character he mentions, and whose Diaries have become addictive reading for McMurtry. There are at least four volumes of diaries from the 40s through the 90s, as well as a kind of memoir, ANOTHER SELF, which got him hooked originally on the Brit writer. And lots more esoteric info like this. I devoured this book in a couple sittings on the same day, and just lent it to a fellow book-guy neighbor. It makes me want to make a special pilgrimage to his enormous BookedUp store in Archer City (his Texas hometown and setting for THE LAST PICTURE SHOW and its sequels) and cruise its several buildings filled with tens of thousands of rare and specialized books. Hawg heaven for booklovers. I will recommend this book highly, but only to a select few who meet certain rarified criteria.
  • (4/5)
    Usually, I am somewhat leery about beginning this way, but: I really enjoyed this book. It is not one that I will keep close to my bosom for ever and ever, but I anticipate that I will seek it out and buy a copy for myself at some point.Larry McMurtry is an experienced writer with a very good sense of storytelling. He carries the story along in clips and sometimes longer strolls with the comfort of someone who doesn't need to hurry or censor himself.It is lovely to read a writer writing confidently, telling stories that are and are not about himself because they are about something that he does and so must include him quite naturally. The book trade is one that he's been in since around the time that I was born and he writes comfortably about it. I particularly enjoyed the little clauses of acknowledgment to the readers who may not be avid book lovers or collectors. It's like a very kind 'thank you' to someone who has been nodding and smiling and is about to doze off if you don't do something right now.The end of many bookshops around the nation and the closing of many library branches has redistributed the wealth of books in the US, but it has not erased it and it has not made books or the people who live with them any less vital or vibrant or valid. It is not a given that the Internet or eReaders will be the 'death' of books. These are different media with different strengths and do not exist in a state of mutual exclusion. It matters that the book trade exists because with that trade there is an established infrastructure to rely on when the trend toward larger collections in a few hands turns once more to smaller collections in many hands.This is a refreshing book, and it was an enjoyable read. I plan to scour it once more before I return it; there are some titles I want to jot down.
  • (3/5)
    nonfiction, autobiography, audio book, book collecting
  • (3/5)
    McMurtry has been both an author and a bookseller for decades. This book is about his lifelong love affair with books. It starts with the 19 books his cousin gave him, which were the first he ever read, and then it meanders through his years of writing, reading and selling books. I enjoyed the sections where he talks about his love of reading much more than those that specific details of buying and selling. His thoughts about book auctions, vintage erotica, comics and buying personal libraries quickly became tiresome. Unless you deal with those things in your own life, it wasn't very interesting to read about. McMurtry excels in writing fiction much more than memoirs.
  • (3/5)
    I was a bit surprised by "Books" as it was not a memoir of Larry McMurtry's acquisition of books or his reading of books as much as a name-dropping list of people who, over the years have come into his bookshop or he has come across in his search for certain editions. I felt overwhelmed by the many names he threw out to the reader. I wasn't familiar with all of them and I didn't feel any closer to them by the end of the book. It was wordy but not in a way that explained much about book collecting. It was entertaining due to McMurtry's usual wit but I thought it could have been organized better. Too much information and too little organization in a relatively small book becomes mind-boggling. His fiction was always very clear to me while I think his memoir was confusing. I think there is a third book coming out. I will still pick it up bur fear more of the same from this last book. For readers that like McMurtry, I don't think it would hurt to pick up "Books" since it is a quick read. Just don't expect much.
  • (2/5)
    A series of short vignettes about the books in Larry McMurtry's life. Most are about books he's bought and sold, and his favorite booksellers. I found it rather dry; the vignettes don't really connect to each other, and there's no emotional hook.
  • (4/5)
    Though this book was almost entirely about the joys of selling antiquarian books, it was very enjoyable. If you aren't a seller or buyer of antiquarian books, you may wish to skim some portions, as I did, but that doesn't detract from the charm of the book.
  • (4/5)
    For a Book Scout who has lived in self-denial for many years I enjoyed McMurtry's bibliophile memoir. It was read in one sitting. McMurtry's clear open and easy going prose was a pleasure to read, and only a few repeated phrases and details distract.His is a fortunate and fascinating story, given that he came from a Mid-West farming family without books to the present day where as a bookseller he has now changed the economic geography of his small home town after years of successful business on the east coast.I found his musings towards the end on the possibility of the death of 'reading' highly relevant and a reluctance for buyers to bid for large lots sobering. The issue of reading is once again going to be open to debate with the launch of i-Pad and Kindle.Since finishing the book my views about some of Melbourne's booksellers here in Australia have been for even changed. And for that, I thank you Larry.
  • (3/5)
    I got through this in one sitting. In part because most 'chapters' are a page or two long (with a blank backside to boot), and in part because it's just sort of shallow. I knew going in about the focus on book selling rather than on reading, but that still sounded interesting. I've always found passionate collecting of any sort interesting and wish I could find something I wanted to collect myself. But this book is more about the people than the business, and got gossipy enough that I was uncomfortable. (Although the anecdote about Jackie Kennedy's mother was a fascinating illustration of class consciousness.) I've never read McMurtry's fiction, although he's one of my mother's favourites. Odd use of commas meant it took a while to get his rhythm down. There was a lot of repetition on the details (like 28,000), although that would be a good refresher if you were dipping into the book once in a while. Since he made a point of explaining why he hasn't read fiction in about 20 years, it would have been nice to have an explanation of how he nevertheless ends up repeatedly referencing Alexander McCall Smith (the Botswana detective fellow).
  • (4/5)
    What a wonderful find. A loose-jointed memoir of McMurtry's book-scouting, book-buying, book-selling adventures. Very spritely, very conversational, very appealing. I felt like I was listening to a friend talking about our favorite subject over a beer.
  • (4/5)
    Of Books & BookmanI might have said I was crazy to pick up a book all about books and “bookman”, but I do love books and the cover photo of a library is alluring. I found McMurty’s book to be great fun, much like his book “Roads”. I found myself drawn into this story about “bookman” and the process of buying and selling of personal libraries and collections. And so I had to keep going to the next chapter. To try to explain why this book is hard to put down would be time consuming, so suffice it to say that if you’re a lover of books, you’ll probably enjoy this memoir. And like “Roads” there are a rich set of book references that you might have never known about and when you start reading those, you can’t imagine having missed them.Great fun.
  • (3/5)
    Easy reading for someone that's veryy interested in collecting and selling First Editions - evokes a sadness about the demise of brick and mortar used bookstores where you never know what you may find.
  • (5/5)
    I have to agree with many of the reviews I've read of this book called Books, that it is disjointed, and rambling, and obviously the work of an enthusiast. And therein lies its charm for me. It is as if Larry McMurtry just ambled into the room, sat down and started telling stories from his life of book buying and book selling. I just loved listening in. But I was floored that this man whom I consider a great American writer seems to value his writing talent so little, and confesses to not enjoying writing at all at this point in his life. Gasp! He surely does enjoy books, however, and I enjoyed his Books immensely.
  • (4/5)
    Content very interesting, but book seems to be in a pre-final draft state.