Larry McMurtry’s ‘Books: A Memoir’

  Larry McMurtry is best known as a novelist, and although he’s written about 30 novels, he’s certainly best known for one of them, the Western epic “Lonesome Dove.” McMurtry recently gained a new level of renown as the co-author of the screenplay for the Oscar-winning film “Brokeback Mountain.”
  And so, many people don’t know about McMurtry’s other career as a book dealer. For more than 30 years, McMurtry co-owned a highly respected used bookshop, Booked Up, in Washington, D.C. When that store was forced to close because of rising rents, he moved the stock to his hometown of Archer City, Texas, about two hours outside Dallas. He reopened Booked Up in five buildings scattered about the tiny town. Today, Booked Up is a book lover’s mecca, boasting more than 300,000 used books of high quality and great variety. It’s a chore to get there, but for collectors, the effort is richly rewarded.
  McMurtry’s new nonfiction title, “Books: A Memoir,” addresses this aspect of his life, relating anecdotes and opinions on his decades-long love affair with books. Besides the for-sale stock in his bookstore, McMurtry has accumulated a personal collection totaling 28,000 volumes. If that figure is hard to picture, trust me that it’s a whole lot of books.
  As a book accumulator myself, I thoroughly enjoyed “Books: A Memoir.” But for those who don’t collect books, and for those who enjoy reading but don’t care whether they own a first edition or a paperback reprint, the book may be difficult to get excited about. The biggest fan of McMurtry’s novels will not necessarily enjoy this book.
  But for those few who still would rather handle a book than scroll a website — who make books a significant part of their lives — McMurtry’s enduring enthusiasm is infectious.

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