Published by Harper Perennial on 10/2/2012
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Non-Fiction
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"Leto is as funny as she is well-read; a delight for bibliophiles and wannabes alike."\r\n--Wylie Overstreet, author of The History of the World According to Facebook
Lauren Leto, humor blogger and co-author of Texts from Last Night, now offers a fascinating field guide to the hearts and minds of readers everywhere. Judging a Book by Its Lover is like a literary Sh*t My Dad Says--an unrelentingly witty and delightfully irreverent guide to the intricate world of passionate literary debate, at once skewering and celebrating great writers, from Dostoevsky to Ayn Rand to Jonathan Franzen, and all the people who read them. This provocative, smart, and addictively funny tome arose out of Leto's popular "book porn" blog posts, and it will delight and outrage literature fans, readers of Stuff White People Like and I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar--people obsessed with literary culture and people fed up with literary culture--in equal measure.
Lauren Leto loves to let us laugh. I also love alliteration, can you tell? Anyway, Judging A Book By Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere (for the rest of this post, henceforth known as JABBIL) may be one of the longest book titles ever, but it’s also one of the funniest damn books I’ve EVER READ. PERIOD. EVER. LIKE, EVER.
And it’s non-fiction. I can’t believe I just said that. Yes, I read non-fiction. When this book was pitched to me, it sounded so unbelievably awesome, I had to read it, even though non-fiction doesn’t fall into my wheelhouse. Because guess what? This book falls into every book lover’s wheelhouse. Yes, that’s right: if you are a bookcat (don’t worry, you’ll get that reference when you read it), you will less-than-three (<3) this book. I would never lie to you. Leto captures the essence of every book lover’s soul in her own stories, from early childhood when being a bookcat meant it was also a constant struggle to fit in with the other kids in school. There are anecdotes involving her family, random encounters in bookstores, and how she feels about Harry Potter.
It’s not just how much I identified with her stories… but her storytelling is fun and entertaining. In case you breezed through the synopsis, Leto is also responsible for the blog site, Texts from Last Night (a wonderful time waster, btw). Her sense of humor matched mine perfectly and I thoroughly enjoyed reading JABBIL for the snark and wit, if nothing else. No, that’s not true…Leto is a book lover just like me. I enjoyed it, because it could have been me on those pages (save for her weirdly sick obsession with classic literature – I am not a fan of the classic, with a few exceptions). But she was me. Only her. We were one with each other on those pages, AND I GOT HER.
The only section I had a problem with was about 70% through the book in the How To Fake it section. The section details how to fake like you’ve read many pieces of famous literature (none of which I had read, of course), but to be honest, it felt like it was written for those who had already read them. I didn’t find the humor in them, because I hadn’t read the books, and therefore didn’t get the funny-haha jokes imparted on the pages. The section was so looooong, eventually I just said F it, and skipped to the next chapter, where all was good again.
My favorite parts were probably where she makes fun of the various types of readers, from those who pick up their fiction at airport stop & shops to Twihards to the soccer mom who reads Jennifer Weiner only during her period. And while she deliberately pokes fun at all of these folks, she doesn’t forget to mention that she’s one of them and “for God’s sake” she reads the Stephanie Plum series, so who is she to judge? She nailed every stereotype with verve and style, and I loved it.
Overall, I highly recommend JABBIL to anyone who has been a bookcat their entire life (or even a part of their life). It’s engaging and hysterical and I really look forward to more of Leto’s non-fiction work. Imagine that: Jennifer reading non-fiction. Who would have ever thought?
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.
Disclaimers: This book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange of an honest review. Blurb and photo source courtesy of Goodreads. *If you decide to purchase this book through any of these links, I do receive a small monetary kick-back that helps fund this blog.