You may recognize his name as the creator of Lonesome Dove, but you may not know that Larry McMurtry is also a book dealer and book collector. He owns and operates an antiquarian/used-bookstore in Archer City, Texas, which houses nearly 400,000 books. His personal library consists of an astounding amount of books as well (one of those details that I didn’t mark and can’t find at the moment in the book).
I found this book in a clearance table at Borders (how the mighty have fallen!). At the time, I didn’t realize who McMurtry is, nor was I sure what the book was about. However, the cover caught my attention. I love books. I used to buy more books than I would buy anything else, except maybe food. Even then, I thought books were a better investment.
I have always wanted to have wall-to-wall books. I grew up with books. I have packed and moved many of my books with me over the years. But I have also given away many of my books. And now I miss them. McMurtry inspired me to keep my books and assured me that they are an investment on many levels. I pulled a number of books out of the yard sale boxes and took them lovingly back into the house.
In his 259-page memoir, McMurtry offers his readers an interesting look at his history of reading, which began with the gift of 19 books from a distant cousin, and how he got started and has stayed in the book business.
McMurtry has a conversational tone and often addresses his readers directly. At one point, he expresses doubt that there are readers who would be interested in the details he shares about various first editions, book dealing, and book scouting.
I found it enthralling. In fact, Books will stay on my shelf.
He shared about all of the used bookstores he visited and bought from and sold to. He mentioned bookstores that I have been to (in Los Angeles) and even the Acres of Books that used to be in Long Beach, California, that now stands closed and boarded up. I was so disappointed to see stacks of books still imprisoned behind the dusty dark windows.
If you love books – not just reading books – but if you love books for being the physical entities that they are, you will probably enjoy Books.
In the near future, we will have to make a road trip to Archer City to see for ourselves this amazing used bookstore!
P.S. I just went to the Booked Up website and the front picture is from one of the stores. Here’s the link if you are interested: