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Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide…
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Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of… (original 2012; edition 2012)

by Lauren Leto

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140985,666 (3.51)12
Member:Bodagirl
Title:Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere
Authors:Lauren Leto
Info:Harper Perennial (2012), Edition: Original, Paperback, 288 pages
Collections:Read, Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:books about books, reading, contemporary fiction, criticism, contemporary literature

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Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere by Lauren Leto (2012)

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Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
A collection of essays, mostly humorous, about books, readers, and literature, including rules for "bookstore hookups," speculation about what it would be like to invite various famous literary couples to dinner, and a guide to "how to write like any author," among other things.

Being a book person myself -- of course! -- I was hoping this was a book I would really click with, but... Yeah, not so much. Some of it is amusing, and there are a couple of more serious pieces at the end that are rather nice. And the section about how to fake it when talking about books you haven't read is full of a lot of interesting trivia about various authors. But that "faking it" conceit just bugs me, even if it is tongue-in-cheek. (And given the anecdote she relates elsewhere involving lying about having read Infinite Jest, it may not be entirely tongue-in-cheek.) This, I'm afraid, is where the failure to click comes in. Because while Leto clearly does genuinely love books, she's way too preoccupied with the idea of looking cool and hip and impressing people with your ability to talk about books at cocktail parties, or wherever it is cool, hip people get together to talk about books. I don't know, because that is really, really not what being a reader is about for me, and it annoys me that Leto keeps talking to me as if she's assuming it is.

She's also.. Well, I was going to say "a little too snarky," but that's not really it; I like me some good snark. It's more that she's often just not quite witty enough to make the leap from "uncomfortably judgmental" into "acerbically funny" when she's slinging the snark.

I feel like I'm probably being way too hard on what is really a fairly fluffy and mostly perfectly readable little book. I think I'm just allergic to a certain kind of pretentiousness, and I can't help but detect more than a whiff of it here. ( )
6 vote bragan | May 8, 2014 |
I wasn't so impressed with the 'How To Fake It' section, particularly since I don't believe in lying about what you have or have not read, but I enjoyed most of it. 'Survival of the Nerdiest' was my favourite and I have it tagged for rereading. ( )
  pjhugs | Nov 24, 2013 |
I gave this book 4 stars when I first finished, since it made me chuckle and laugh out loud so many times. A few days later, I have no recollection of what this book was truly about, except techniques to fake that you've read a book, or several books by the same author, without actually reading it. Some chapters are really fun to read, especially the ones about how the author grew up as a bookworm, with a bit of inflation on her part, of course. The chapters about hitting on men in bookstore and imaginary dinners with literary couples are both fun. All after all, the only agreement I have with the author is that sometimes we need to take a break from reading serious books that requires thinking, and read something plot-driven so our noodles can take a break. She reads Stephanie Plum for those occasions, and I do, too. It's a fun, little book to read to people who actually reads a lot and know what and who she's talking about; otherwise, this book can be summed up as: lots of mockery, showing off, inflated history, and nothing else important.
( )
  lovestampmom | Aug 8, 2013 |
Eh. This was a fluffy, easy read. Funny in parts, but mostly at the beginning. I skimmed a lot. It reads like a bunch of disjointed essays. Some of the chapters just plain drag on too long; the chapter on "how to fake it" springs to mind. I felt a good chunk of this book was little more than the author trying to impress us with how well read she is.

Christina's review sums up my feelings best.

It's worth picking up at the library, but definately not worth buying. ( )
  amandamay83 | Apr 2, 2013 |
Originally posted on A Reader of Fictions.

As you might guess, I am a bit of a reader. As such, one of the things I enjoy doing when not reading is discussing literature. In Leto's book, I can sort of read and discuss reading all at once, albeit in a format where the discussion is rather one-sided with me unable to respond to Leto's opinions. Leto's work is for book lovers, or, perhaps even more, for those of us who want to pretend we've read all the most pretentious works but haven't.

Judging a Book by Its Lover, like most books containing short snippets of story or essay, is a bit of mish mash. Some of the sections entertained me and resulted in my wanting to be best buds with Lauren Leto. Other sections made me roll my eyes at Lauren Leto's handing down of her mighty opinion to the masses, much of which I didn't agree with. Leto's observations will primarily be entertaining to those who a) get the references and b) share her opinions. When she snarks at something I hated, I laugh along merrily. However, when the snark turns on beloved books, I could not help but be annoyed, especially since much of the snark came with no context or backing whatsoever.

One of Leto's bits of snark that bothered me in its inaccuracy comes from the lengthy section "Stereotyping People by Favorite Author," in which she asserts that those whose favorite author is Jane Austen - since they are totally the same in their writing style, these four people - are "girls who made out with other girls in college when they were going through a 'phase.'" Really, Lauren Leto? I would have gone more for the "girls who are always disappointed that real men don't measure up to fictional ones and remain single forever." Also mean, but more applicable to the fan base, which includes myself. Besides, for someone claiming to have so much knowledge of reading and its culture, why does she make the rookie mistake of pairing Austen and Brontës as though they're the same?

I guess I just felt that Leto was often overly brutal toward an author or a book in an effort to be edgy and funny, and, more importantly, to show how clever Lauren Leto is. I got the distinct sense that things she enjoys are awesome and to be judged as such, and things she doesn't automatically suck. Well, isn't that nice. For all that her posturing frustrated me, I actually preferred the snippets of her life to the gimmicky bits and lists. I wish it had been a bit more memoir, a bit less book snob.

The long lists, "Stereotyping People by Favorite Author" and "How to Fake It" drag on and on, not especially fun to read back to back. The latter gives key information for those who want to pretend they've read an author they haven't. They both run on too long, taking on a number of figures I've never even heard of, which, given that I spend a lot of time looking at books, makes me wonder about relevance to the average reader. In the stereotypes, it definitely felt as though people liked that so she wrote as many as she could, resulting in the forced feeling to many of them.

Obviously, I had a number of issues with this book. However, there were good things and I did enjoy reading it more than I didn't. When not sniping, Leto can actually be quite funny. She clearly loves books, which is always good, and advocates reading strongly, even if it has to be things she denigrates. In addition, there are a lot of fun facts to be learned, like that Norman Mailer liked to punch people and that I should never touch a Charles Bukowski novel.

If you're a book lover that wants to judge most of the books released in the last ten years and some classics, Judging a Book by Its Lover will help you with that. This one is for snark release, not for too much serious analysis though. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
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The first book I ever loved was a book about a monster in a child's closet.
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Author's Note: Let me be plain when I state that my judgments, wisecracks, and sarcastic comments come from a place of deap admiration for every one of the authors whose work I discuss in these pages. There is nothing more beautiful than a well-written book, and there is nothing more admirable than the attempt to create something beautiful.
Life happens alongside the act of reading - a story is forever lixed with where we were and what we were doing while we were reading that book
The day I change my reading habits to preserve the appearance of my books is the day I start to die inside, for surely I'll have stopped loving to read.
Literature connects by transporting people to the same consciousness; a stranger the same book you've read, whose eyes passed over the same words, may be part of a completely different environment, and even time, but for a while, at least, they shared a world with you.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062070142, Paperback)

Want to impress the hot stranger at the bar who asks for your take on Infinite Jest? Dying to shut up the blowhard in front of you who’s pontificating on Cormac McCarthy’s “recurring road narratives”? Having difficulty keeping Francine Prose and Annie Proulx straight?

For all those overwhelmed readers who need to get a firm grip on the relentless onslaught of must-read books to stay on top of the inevitable conversations that swirl around them, Lauren Leto’s Judging a Book by Its Lover is manna from literary heaven! A hilarious send-up of—and inspired homage to—the passionate and peculiar world of book culture, this guide to literary debate leaves no reader or author unscathed, at once adoring and skewering everyone from Jonathan Franzen to Ayn Rand to Dostoyevsky and the people who read them.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:45 -0400)

"Want to impress the hot stranger at the bar who asks for your take on Infinite Jest? Dying to shut up the blowhard in front of you who's pontificating on Cormac McCarthy's "recurring road narratives"? Having difficulty keeping Francine Prose and Annie Proulx straight? For all those overwhelmed readers who need to get a firm grip on the relentless onslaught of must-read books to stay on top of the inevitable conversations that swirl around them, Lauren Leto's Judging a Book by Its Lover is manna from literary heaven! A hilarious send-up of--and inspired homage to--the passionate and peculiar world of book culture, this guide to literary debate leaves no reader or author unscathed, at once adoring and skewering everyone from Jonathan Franzen to Ayn Rand to Dostoyevsky and the people who read them"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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