Monday, October 1, 2012

Judging a Book by Its Lover

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

I am not a scholar of literature. All my commentary comes from my experiences and presumptions as a reader. As you read what follows - my one-sentence book reviews, my gross generalizations about others' bookshelves, my categorical statements on how to fake any author, my love lavished on little-known treasures in literature, my cheat sheets on how to write like any author, my horror stories from my life as a bookworm, and my open letters to authors' fans - feel free to be annoyed if I snark on an author you love. Feel free to berate my schooling - my college degree is in political theory and constitutional democracy, a pretentious way of explaining that in one point in time I read a lot of Dostoyevsky and Plato. I'm a law school dropout and I managed to fail my college precalculus math class three semesters in a row. I'm afraid to get on planes. I am not an authority. I'm a Janet Evanovich fan, for Christ's sake.

This book was definitely not what I thought it was going to be about, so perhaps it was that notion that influenced this review. In fact, this book is something that people would probably expect me to write, since I'm a huge reader (obviously, from this blog!) and I like to read varied novels and other stories; because of this, it's a little strange I didn't enjoy it more. It could be because I expected it to be funnier, too - the author, Lauren Leto, started the website Texts from Last Night, which I follow on Twitter and which is a hilarious website that is definitely worth checking out. She also grew up in this area (metro Detroit) though she now lives in Brooklyn.

Synopsis from the publisher:
Riffing on everything from what a person's bookshelves reveal about his or her character and imaginary dinner parties with famous literary couples past and present to her petition to change the phrase from "bookworm" to "bookcat" and proper at-home use of book critics' go-to words like ennui, oeuvre, indelible, and frisson, Leto shares her snarky but spot-on observations about books and the passionate conversations they generate as well as memorable moments from her own adventures in reading.
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The "memorable moments" that the synopsis references were actually my favorite parts in the book - if there had been more of these, perhaps I would have liked it better. As you read above, Leto gives sort-of a disclaimer saying that her views and opinions may differ from her readers, but overall I found the book to be a little boring. I know this is nonfiction, which I don't usually read, and I'll admit I did chuckle at a few of the descriptions - I especially liked the book critics' "go-to words" section - but I found myself wanting the book to be funnier, since that is what Leto and her website are known for, and in that aspect this book was a disappointment for me.

Judging a Book by Its Lover will be in stores on October 2nd. 2 stars out of 5.

*Disclosure: I received a copy of this novel to review. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.

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