BOOKS: Search can sometimes yield just the book you need

It probably will not surprise you that I collect books. I have far too many already, but I cannot stop myself from getting even more of them. I consider my collecting to be a healthy obsession. I’ll leave it at that.

Since I’m already berserk about books I’m a sucker for books about books. The new novel by Sara Gran is one such volume. This is a story about a book called “The Book of the Most Precious Substance.”

Lily Albrecht is a rare book dealer in New York. She’s selling books at an annual book sale when she learns about an incredibly rare book that is worth a lot of money. She had never heard of this book before so she wasn’t sure if such a book actually existed.

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The plot thickens when she hears the bookseller who once asked her to help him locate a copy for a wealthy buyer had died rather suddenly. She really wants to find a copy of that book. She had already recruited Lucas Markson, the head of a university library, to help her search for it.

That money could come in handy. She has been selling rare books to try to make a living and to support her husband who now requires around the clock care. The poor man is in an almost vegetative state and he could live like this for many more years.

They determine this book does exist. A few were made by hand during the 17th century. They were occult sex manuals. People who have owned them believed they might confer some unusual powers. That’s why some wealthy people covet copies.

Alright, so they have their initial quandary, finding one of the books and obtaining it. Then there’s the second issue, they don’t know who the original customer was supposed to be. The bookseller who had asked her about it died without sharing the client’s name.

That’s our basic plot; try to find the rare book while also identifying the person who is willing to spend over a million dollars to obtain it. Lucas and Lily hit the road. They begin to travel the world searching for the book. Along the way they figure out who wants that book so badly and they make the arrangements to obtain it for this person who really wants to become very powerful.

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Previous owners of the book have had mixed success in using the book to fulfill their lust for power. One former owner, a famous rock star, didn’t get what he desired. Since he was a rock star surely he understood that you can’t always get what you want.

Oh, and there’s a lot of sex in this book. Sex, and good food. The situation with Lily’s husband has had her feeling sexually deprived. As we proceed through this hunt for the precious sex book her sexual needs are being fulfilled. And then some. Perhaps too much of a good time for some readers.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more information, visit Contact him at