Book Review: Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto

Posted April 14, 2014 by LeahAdmin in Reviews / 21 Comments

Book Review: Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto
Judging a Book by It's Lover by Lauren Leto
Published by Harper Perennial on Oct. 2, 2012
Pages: 269
Genres: Essays
Format: Paperback
Source: Book Riot Quarterly Box

Have you ever needed to pretend that you’ve read an author whom you haven’t gotten around to yet? Are you curious about the rules for bookstore hookups? Do you wonder what your favorite author says about you? Are you aware of what your child will grow up to be if you read him/her The Giver? Do you just love reading intelligent, funny writing about books by a person who is clearly passionate about them? If you answered yes to any of these questions, Judging a Book by Its Lover is for you.

This relatively slim volume contains essays about the many facets of being a bookworm — including Leto’s proposal to change the term to bookcat. Some pieces are personal essays about her own life as a reader, from her no-shame enjoyment of The DaVinci Code to her childhood spelling bee flub to trying to obtain a copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on its release date while teaching in Japan. Other essays are bookish rules and how-to’s. I’ll share a few examples:

  • Rules for Public Reading
  • How to Fake It
  • Strategies to Avoid Discussing the Major Plot Points of Any Novel
  • How to Speak Condescendingly About the Most Revered Authors/Literary Works
  • How to Succeed in Classifying Fiction Without Really Trying

These are SO MUCH fun to read. I basically sat on my couch giggling uncontrollably the entire time I was reading this book. My favorite section was Stereotyping People by Their Favorite Author. In case you were wondering, my love of Murakami indicates that I like good music, my affinity for JK Rowling makes me a smart geek, and my penchant for Sylvia Plath suggests I’m a girl who keeps a journal. Also, people who like Dan Brown are likely “people who used to get lost in supermarkets when they were kids” and Jodi Picoult fans are “your mom when she’s at her time of the month.” Leto is so snarky, and I loved it.

However, the How to Fake It section of the book really dragged for me. In this 80-page section, Leto tells the reader how to fake they’ve read more than 30 classic and contemporary authors, including basic facts to know, essential titles, and details to drop into conversation. It’s great if you’ve read each author or want to start reading an author but aren’t sure which books to read, but I didn’t really care about a lot of the authors she talks about. I felt duty-bound to read all of them, but this section is probably more enjoyable if you just read the ones you’re really interested in.

I received a copy of Judging a Book by Its Lover in my Book Riot Quarterly box, and I’m so glad I did. It’s not a book that I probably would have bought for myself, but I was so excited to own it that I started reading it that very night. I enjoyed the heck out of it, and I think it would make a great gift for any book lover. Whatever your literary taste, this is a great bookish read!

  • I’d never even heard of this book but it sounds like a good laugh! I’ll have to go check that out on Amazon!

    • Many many laughs 🙂

  • This sounds like a lot of fun! I wonder what my love of Joyce Carol Oates says about me!

  • I totally want to read this book. The title is perfect and it sounds like the rest of the book is equally as amusing. Thanks for the review, I’ve been waiting for it.

    • It’s so much fun! I hope you enjoy it if you read it!

  • This totally sounds like fun (and I’m SO intrigued by the section on The Giver now!). I just died a bit over the descriptions of the people based on their favorite authors, so I’m sure it would get a few giggles from me.

    • I think you’d really enjoy it!

  • I had this book in my hand at a bookstore recently, but then put it back when I saw such a big chunk of it was the “how to fake it” chapter, which really did not appeal to me. I think the rest of it might be interesting though, so maybe a library borrow on this one.

    • I think this is definitely a good library borrow.

  • I need to take a “top ten books on my TBR list” list, and this one is going on it! So glad to hear you had a blast reading it!

    • It was so much fun!

  • LR

    Two things – 1. This was a great review. 2. I read this book and I have to say, my favourite part was when she said that Margaret Atwood’s favourite colour is likely “hunter green”

    • Thanks! Hah, that part was great.

  • This sounds like a ton of fun! And I’m completely on board with the term bookcat 🙂

    • Isn’t it so much more appealing than bookworm?!

  • The How to Fake It section sounds pretty “meh” but I still think I’ll try this one sometime. Great review, Leah!

    • That part is kind of “meh,” but the book’s still a fun read. Maybe get it from the library?

  • I got this in my Quarterly box too and appreciate the tip on skimming the Fake It section! Ps: I noticed you reading All The Light We Cannot See a few days ago. I’m asking around because it’ll be my next read (I think): How was it?

    • It was sooo good. Damn, can Doerr write a gorgeous sentence!

  • Clairelie

    Hey, stumbled past your blog and clicked on this blog at not-so-random. Great review! I love the way you express yourself 🙂

  • Clairelie

    “and clicked on this post” I meant to say, sorry