October 13, 2012

Review: Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere

Judging a Book by Its Lover By Lauren Leto
Available now from Harper Perennial (HarperCollins)
Review copy
JudgingaBookbyItsLover.com (click-through text excerpt)

I know lots of people who enjoy reading Texts from Last Night, but who view it as a hive of scum and villainy.  Co-founder Lauren Leto proves that she might get her Faulkner on, but she's still a witty, well-read woman and any bookworm will recognize her insight into our lives as the truth.

I'm tempted just to quote the entire book in order to convince you to read it.  Here's a bit from the first chapter, Commercial Confessions, in which Leto admits her love of Janet Evanovich:
I make this distinction because most of this book is about avoiding bad books, and I don’t want a reader to think I’m being an elitist snob. Considering yourself a serious reader doesn’t mean you can’t read light books. Loving to read means you sometimes like to turn your head off. Reading is not about being able to recite passages of Camus from memory. Loving young adult novels well past adolescence isn’t a sign of stunted maturity or intelligence. The most important thing about reading is not the level of sophistication of the books on your shelf. There is no prerequisite reading regimen for being a bookworm.
JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS LOVER will teach you how to make a bookstore hook-up, how to pretend to have read an author, and how to properly participate in a book club.  It will even teach you how to stereotype people by their favorite author, but it won't teach you to look down on them.  Leto's definitely critical of certain books, authors, and techniques, but she's writing with a true passion for reading. 

I laughed through the entirety of JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS LOVER.  But as much as I enjoyed it, I am not passing this one on.  Leto's book is staying on my shelf and my friends can get their own copies.  I hate for this one to never be returned.  I might need to know how to spell 'spaghetti.'

While Leto focuses on literary fiction, I think any book love will find something to enjoy in this chic green volume.  So pick up a copy and give it to one of your fellow bookworms for the winter holidays, before they buy a copy for themselves.  (Oh yeah, buy your own copy first.)


  1. Tells you how to pretend you've read an author? Sneaky, but very useful! And a better way of using stereotypes is appealing.

    1. Useful indeed. (And she provides tips for how to notice when you're up against a big fan and thus know not to even bother pretending.)


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