Book Collecting Lust and Memoir Madness

Book LustOver the past few weeks, I fed my book collecting lust and memoir madness by buying several first editions of mysteries. Plus, I read several memoirs—most notably three by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone. They use a light, upbeat style to shed light on their foray into book collecting. The Goldstones’ adventure into book lust began when Nancy tried to find a nice copy of War and Peace as a birthday present for Lawrence. As they fall more in love with book hunting, their ventures take them to Boston, New York, and Chicago. The books, Used & Rare, Slightly Chipped, and Warmly Inscribed, venture into different aspects of book collecting as the Goldstones become more attuned to the language, types of dealers, and the issues and states of the books themselves.

Book Lust

They visit dealers whose brick-and-mortar premises are hushed shrines in which  the “hot spot” wares (such as first editions of Charles Dickens or Herman Melville) cost in the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars. More moderately priced first-edition books of other writers at other dealers meant the Goldstones could satisfy their book lust. The Goldstones also visit dealers who sell out of their homes, barns, and outbuildings. Trips to antiquarian book fairs in Boston and New York soon follow. As does a visit to Clarence Wolf (Nancy’s book-collecting grandfather) in Chicago to get some pointers. And in later years, they visit Printers Row Book Festival in Chicago. Also on tap is a visit to a book auction at Swann Galleries (where they were outbid). Plus, a visit to Sotheby’s New York for a chance to bid on books owned by the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson.

Technology and the New Age of Book Collecting

Technology has grown apace since the writing Book Lustof the Goldstones’ memoirs, many of the dealers they frequented now offer their books online through their own websites and aggregate sites such as and (Get a chuckle from the Goldstones’ opinion of the just-burgeoning computer technology of the time sprinkled throughout their memoirs.)

I am a nascent book collector. In this age of viral pandemics, I wonder if I will have the pleasure of browsing the shelves of a used-and-rare bookstore like the Goldstones. Well, I can always have online book collecting lust and memoir madness to tide me over.

Used & Rare
Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
© 1997
Thomas Dunne Books

Slightly Chipped: Footnotes in Booklore
Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
© 1999
Thomas Dunne Books

Warmly Inscribed: The New England Forger and Other Book Tales
Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone
© 2001
Thomas Dunne Books

4 Replies to “Book Collecting Lust and Memoir Madness”

  1. Hello Jane,

    Nice to see another post. I am most curious about which first-edition mysteries you purchased.

    Living just south of Boston, I may have browsed some of the bookstores most likely mentioned in the memoirs of the Goldstones. I need to read these to find out. I used to drop in at Brattle Book Shop when I was in that area, Stacks of fun in the books outside.

    And I agree with Sandra on printed media instead of digital. Our libraries are finally re-opening with curbside pick up. This really counts towards to normal for me.

    1. Hello Hester,

      As always, thanks for the comments.

      I, too, prefer printed books and magazines to digital ones, even though I have 6,000+ books and sample chapters in my Nook… Even though I prefer printed material, I do not have the space to house all the books I want to read even if I dispose of them once I’m done. Ebooks can also be easier on the pocketbook as I often can get things I want to read for either $1.99 plus tax, or even 99 cents plus tax through Barnes and Noble.

      Our small satellite office of the local county library has been open for a week now, but on very limited hours.

      I will email you with the titles and author names of the first editions I have so far.

  2. Your review comes at a most interesting time. My daughter and I spent much of last week going through books at her in-laws looking for first edition books.

    The most interesting to be was “Kidnapped” & “Scouting” The Boy Scouts Handbook. Written by a Lieutenant General and definitely on the side of survival and what young boys are missing today, 1908.
    I can only imagine what he would think of today’s world and how technology has changed the scene of so many things. Computer screens instead of landscapes and virtual streams instead of real ones where you wade and catch crawdads.

    I too am a book lover and prefer printed media over Kindle edition books. I love the smell of an old book, and whether the bindings are worn or perfect as a testament of good reading. I too am looking forward to the days of being able to browse the antique book stores.
    Thank you.

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