Tag Archives: Libraries

“Thieves of Book Row” by Travis McDade

This slim little nonfiction book is weightier than its size suggests. McDade is a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law, and I imagine his classes must be fascinating. In Thieves he has perfectly blended history, law, and bibliophilia. In less than 200 pages of text, he recounts the history of the thriving booksellers’ district in New York known as Book Row, the infancy of public librarianship on the East Coast, the individual lives of the library detectives, book thieves, and booksellers, and the various methods thieves used to identify, steal, and disguise valuable library books.

The book does incline to be academic. The writing is (very occasionally) dry, and the lengthy cast of characters can be hard to follow, particularly as many used aliases. But overall, it’s the most fun I’ve had reading about book theft since library school. Required reading for library staff, historians, and literate street gangs.

Read if you enjoyed: Bookhunter by Jason Shiga, Scribes, Script, and Books by Leila Avrin

Find Thieves of Book Row at Multnomah County Library


“Bookhunter” by Jason Shiga

Bookhunter is the graphic novel version of a 1970s cop movie. But like all good adaptations, it has a twist: the cop in question is a library detective, and he applies the full force of the law to track down the person stealing rare books from the Oakland Public Library. Criminal profiling, SWAT teams, car chases—this is librarianship like you’ve never seen it. Shiga is also the author of the mind-bending Meanwhile (a choose-your-own-adventure-style graphic novel), but I prefer the straightforward storytelling of Bookhunter. This is an entertaining read with lots of in-jokes for book lovers, and a great graphic novel.

Read if you enjoyed: Rex Libris by James Turner, Super Spy by Matt Kindt

Look for Bookhunter at Multnomah County Library.