The Best-Read Man in France

153520272.JPGI’m always glad to have my attention drawn to novels with bookish themes (and here). Recently, another from this genre landed on my desk, The Best-Read Man in France, written by Peter Briscoe, a former academic library administrator at the University of California, Riverside. The main character is Michael Ashe, a Los Angeles-based rare bookseller and a bit of a Casanova, who travels the world buying and selling books, mainly in the area of Mexican-American history. When business begins to dry up, he faces his misgivings about the trade and finds solace in the story of French librarian and scholar, Gabriel Naude.  

Briscoe’s fiction debut plays with the contemporary themes of the decline of reading, the death of the book, and increasing digitization in lieu of acquisition at research libraries. It is a breezy read for a summer afternoon, and for those of us in the trade -- librarians, booksellers, collectors -- you may well recognize yourself here, and smile. 
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