Thieves of Book Row (Travis McDade)

I may be a passionate reader, but I don’t think I’ve ever stolen a book, at least not from a library or bookstore. I may have liberated a title or three from the shelves of friends, so if you are missing something, let me know. Otherwise, you’d be wise to hire the likes of the library detectives featured in this book. I found this account of Depression-era itinerant book thieves and the support they received from New York’s Book Row pretty compelling. McDade is great at evoking character and atmosphere, and he’s clearly done his homework. Okay, so maybe he didn’t need to list every book a thief stole, but otherwise, this is a tightly written account. I was grateful that he resisted the temptation many nonfiction writers fall prey to – that of indulging in significant digressions and backstory in order to show off their research and puff up their page count. The length – at 185 pages – is perfect. McDade found his story, stuck to it, and told it well. Maybe it isn’t for everyone, but it was definitely for me.

Charles Ellenbogen is the author of the teaching memoir, THIS ISN’T THE MOVIES: 25 YEARS IN THE CLASSROOM, and teaches high school English in Cleveland, Ohio. He lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio with Kirsten, his wife, Zoe, their daughter, Ezra, their son, Lincoln, their dog, and Chocolate Scales, their snake

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