Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Judging a Book by Its Lover

Rate this book
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.

288 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2012

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Lauren Leto

7 books14 followers
Lauren Leto is a writer, creator and co-founder of Texts From Last Night website. Texts From Last Night is also a book (and a television show is in the works).

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
127 (11%)
4 stars
280 (25%)
3 stars
426 (39%)
2 stars
202 (18%)
1 star
47 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 263 reviews
Profile Image for Rena.
474 reviews261 followers
January 26, 2013
3.5 stars

As much as I wanted to fall in love with this book about book lovers, it was hit-or-miss for me. There are parts that I was like, "Yesss, Lawd!" when talking about the exquisite joy of used books and sharing with a common bond with fellow readers. Other parts just dragged on and on, like the chapter about how to fake like you've read famous books (some were books I could care less about impressing someone with). Based on the book's title, I expected Lauren Leto to be snarky (which I don't mind), but her pretentiousness also came through and rubbed me the wrong way sometimes. The best of Judging a Book By Its Lover are Leto's personal anecdotes: being a nerd, just wanting to be left alone to read, her grandparents' love of books passed down to her. If she had given me more of that, and not endless lists describing what you've read says about you and what book to gift someone, I would have been more than fine with that. Because I am interested in what you read, Lauren...so stop trying to impress me.
Profile Image for Sps.
592 reviews8 followers
July 15, 2013
Ugh. The faux-clever, repetitive "snark" of this book make it appropriate for sale at someplace like Urban Outfitters.

This isn't the "field guide to...readers" that the subtitle promises so much as it is a collection of petty disses. There was perhaps one humorous insight in a sea of hackneyed insults: her profile of "brooding academics" includes a "legal pad with outline for a screenplay hidden under the first two pages." (18) The rest of the insults--and really, it's nearly all insults--are weak and come off as resentful. For instance she swipes at the New York Times any chance she can get, until I got the feeling that perhaps she was rejected for a job there, or rejected romantically by a NYT staffer, or something.

When it's not being insulting, the book was padded with tangentially-related-to-reading stories from Leto's life. While such anecdotes are desirable and amusing if one is, say, David Sedaris, if one is not, well, that's what social media is for.

My librarian's brain was dismayed by Leto's disorganization. She has several lists of authors and genres of the book where the contents seem arbitrary and the lists follow no scheme that I can see. Neither chronological, nor alpha by first or last name, nor grouped thematically. Maybe it's like those intelligence tests where you have to pick up on a subtle pattern in a series? Clearly I failed.

Finally, my librarian's heart was also dismayed, this time by the lack of library love. I don't think she talks about libraries at all. In a book about reading. In a book with a section on how to pick someone up in a bookstore. In a book that claims to be by an obsessive, passionate reader. What?

Profile Image for Clong.
66 reviews1 follower
July 2, 2013
I'm so disappointed that Goodreads stars only go down to, "did not like it." There needs to be a star for "unbelievably horrible." I really went into this book with high hopes. And I'm shocked that it receives four and five stars from so many people. Maybe those who hate it abandon ship quickly and therefore do not review it. I would have done the same and was about to give up after the "Fan Letters" chapter but I felt like it was so glaringly, unashamedly bad that I had to finish so as to be able to critique it in it's entirety. The writer comes off as super pretentious. By the end of the first few chapters she makes it clear that only two types of books are acceptable: Russian Literature (which she obviously fell in love with in college...cliche!) and "The Virgin Suicides" honestly if I had to read her tout this book one more time I would have lost it. Everything else is trash...Kurt Vonnegut fans are creepy, pot-head morons. You can only like Salinger if you're an angsty teenager (didn't catch that? don't worry she mentions it in every chapter). Chuck Palahniuk is only for boys who can't read. Sloane Crosley is a boring New York Jewish girl exactly like every other New York Jewish girl, she isn't funny and should never have gotten a book deal (jealous much?). Charles Dickens is only for pretentious 9th graders. C.S Lewis is for people who pick their nose. Michael Pollan is for girls trying to cover up their eating disorders. Miranda July lacks substance and is for unoriginal girls. It goes on and on. I thought this was going to be a slightly kumbaya bit about loving books and reading (YAY!) But it quickly devolves into an excessively negative book with the Author focused on trashing as many authors as she possibly can. It also becomes glaringly obvious that the Author's underlying reasons for doing so are her own jealousy and insecurity. Give me a break. The Sloane Crosley dig really drove it home for me, Sloane Crosley is also a young, attractive, dark-haired, New York based, Humor writer...Hmmmm....

There's a chapter about what your children will turn out to be if you read them certain books, I was really excited to read it and thought it would be funny, nope. They are all negative and I find her conclusions hard to grasp. Harold and the Purple Crayon? Serial adulterer. Where the Wild Things Are? Navel-gazing idiot Hipster. The Wind in The Willows? Boring crusty-nosed girl who hangs out at the library. Madeline? Horrifyingly obedient/annoying church group leader. etc. etc. etc. I'm sorry, I thought we wanted children to read books...guess I was wrong. And, I might add, she offers no alternatives.

I get that the author is trying to be funny. It really, really, really does not come off that way. I am not without humor! Snarkiness! I love it! I really wanted this book to be funny. It's not. It's offensive. Lauren Leto is the wise old age of 24 and has focused her efforts on tearing down the life's work of Dickens, Salinger, Vonnegut, Austen, Lorrie Moore, insert author here. Thanks but no thanks Lauren Leto, the literary community just doesn't need this.

Also her writing is awful. The first thing I learned in a lower level creative writing class was to trust the reader. Don't feel the need to blatantly spell everything out for them. So in her chapter "The Rules of Book Club" she just does not need to flat out say, "this is in the style of the rules of fight club from the book Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk." It's painful. In another chapter she drones on about how AWFUL it is when beginning writers (in high school) try to learn from other authors. She then goes on to give tips about how to effectively copy the style of other authors. What? WHAT?! P.S. it's all a ruse, and yet another template for her to all-knowingly talk about other author's shortcomings. Joan Didion? "Be redundant and scattered." Next.

This book is really awful. I don't think I've ever hated a book so much. The author says she likes books and reading but it is hard to find evidence of that in this book. She is pretentious, negative, and thinks very highly of herself. She insults classic and contemporary literature alike simply based on her own personal taste. She also manages to insult the reader, telling them their poetry is awful and insulting their intelligence by teaching them (Gee thanks! what would I do without you, all-knowing Lauren Leto?) how to pronounce names like Kerouac, Proust, Ayn Rand, Dostoyevsky, etc. And also she teaches you how to understand the terms literary critics use like morose, cultivated, digress, inexplicable, and compelling. Wow! I wouldn't really mind either if she didn't do it in such a condescending manner and if the rest of the book wasn't proof of her glaring pretension.

She attempts to write a few self deprecating essays, perhaps in an attempt to counteract all of the snootiness. They are ineffective. They're also not funny (spoiler alert: she misspells Spaghetti in a spelling bee. GASP! She then goes on to describe how her friends and family mock her. It's the equivalent of being a 10 year old and trying to explain a family joke to your best friend's Dad). This makes it extra surprising that she doesn't think Sloane Crosley is funny, leading the reader to wonder...has she even read Sloane Crosley?...oh that's right, this is all being driven by her crazed jealousy. Got it. Everything comes full circle towards the end when she writes about how depressing it is to be an aspiring writer in New York...how disheartening it is when another (OBVIOUSLY inferior) author gets a book deal, and how negative everyone can be (hmmmm...negative you say?). Her solution is simple, to murder them all. She then gives suggestions on how to murder them...not humorous ones...poison them, shoot them in the face while they are sleeping, carry a knife always so you can stab people in the gut. Oooook, Crazy-face. I guess whacking someone with a frying pan can be considered funny if you're a cartoon character. Really breaking new ground there, bravo.

At one point in the book she goes after Sarah Vowell saying she can't believe that Vowell doesn't drink coffee and that if she also said she didn't drink liquor then the author wouldn't believe Vowell had written her own books because, Leto says, she personally can't write without one or the other. To this I would like to say, no, Lauren Leto, you can't write period.

And just so I myself do not fall victim to incessant negativity, as I have judged Leto for, I will say this: This book did inspire me in one way. Which is to start a new Goodreads shelf. I think I'll call it "zero stars." Hopefully I can come up with a better name soon.

P.S. I'd like to thank the public library of Sacramento for allowing me to spend zero monies on this book. And also for shipping it all the way from Sacramento. What a waste. Seriously, I really do have guilt about that.
Profile Image for Emily.
706 reviews2,044 followers
October 29, 2014
Judging a Book by Its Lover is for the people who love books and don't have time to read Dostoyevsky. Chapters include "Rules for Public Reading," "Stereotyping People by Favorite Author," and "How to Fake It," an extensive guide to pretending you've read famous authors. In Lauren Leto's hands, these subjects - which could be stale - are hilarious.

The obvious humor is funny, but so are the asides (Ayn Rand is possibly Patrick Bateman's favorite novelist), and Leto does not spare anyone. Her summaries of famous authors' works are humorous and spot-on. This book is worth it just to learn about the interplay between famous authors and who, exactly, has hit Truman Capote in the face. Interspersed with the pieces about more famous writers are stories from Leto's own semi-nerdy childhood. She pans memoirists (and rightly so), but I came away from this book wanting a larger book filled with her stories. Honestly, anyone who can end a chapter with "That's how I ended up producing a fan-fiction play in Japan" is awesome.

LAUREN LETO, ARE YOU LISTENING? Let's have brunch! Seriously. We can meet halfway. Iowa? (Didn't a short story collection materialize from that state recently?)
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,280 reviews1,655 followers
September 27, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Kathrina.
508 reviews127 followers
October 15, 2012
There are very few groups of people for which I feel I belong, but a group of readers is one of them. It was nice to feel I was a part of the initiated, but at the same time, I had to keep asking myself, why read this when I could read a real book? This was really a series of Leto's attempts to get a payoff from all that book-reading, and it's in print form rather than a blog to reach all of us book nerds. Bits of it were genuinely fresh and interesting, some bits were a well-trod rehash, and some were just trod too lightly to make an impression. I'm always intrigued by author-to-author relationships, and there's plenty of that here. And I respect Leto's willingness to make a critical statement and stand by it. But I was consistently annoyed by her quantitative approach -- listing every trendy author that's had NPR airtime, rather than really investigating one particular point of view for more than a page or two. I had to constantly remind myself that Leto is used to writing for the ether, and caters to the short attention span.
Mixed feelings here, but feel this work is most accessible to the blog reader, and most topics covered can be found right here on goodreads. But for those of us who feel isolated by our book-reading addictions and preoccupations, this is good comfort food. She's got a good, snarky, intelligent sense of humor, and that goes a long way.
Profile Image for Kate.
26 reviews17 followers
October 22, 2012
Not a book for readers so much as a book for people who want to pretend to be readers. Full of tips for pretending to have read well-known books to impress others, which is ridiculous, but there's the occasional insight to be found in the scattered topics and posturing of the author's somewhat superior tone.
Profile Image for Ana.
18 reviews13 followers
May 15, 2014
I gave it 2 stars, because this book had too much bullshit.

The first half was very entertaining: the description of her relationship with the books over the years was delicious, and I felt like I would really love to meet her and talk about books for hours.

And then I was presented with a chapter called: “How to fake it”, that basically tells you what you need to know about certain authors and their works so you can pretend like you’ve read them…

WTF????? Why would anyone try to fake like they’ve read an author or book? What is the problem on admitting that you don’t have the time or the interest to read a certain book? Who can blame you for that? We all know that we have a very limited time in our lives to read all the books that we would like to read. So if we don’t have any interest in reading some author or book, even if it is a very distinguished one, what is the problem in admitting it? We have to read what we love, even if everyone else thinks it’s awful.

After this chapter, which I have to admit I skipped a few pages of boring and useless details about authors life’s and marriages, comes other boring chapters on how to discuss books and authors that you didn’t read (again, why?), and about the growing use of e-readers instead of books in paperback. Now, I do have an interest in discussing this. Lauren’s opinion is that e-readers remove the ability for us, readers, to recognize each other and bonding through the book we are reading when we accidentally meet. And also because she wants to scribble on the margins of the book and in the e-readers that’s not possible.

Lauren, though I don’t scribble on books, I understand your objection, and I also like to see which book someone’s reading whenever I see them reading a book. But is that your only objections? For me, I can live without knowing what the person next to me in the subway is reading. Instead of noticing this I’m probably immersed in my own book to care what’s happening to the people around me. For me, that argument is just silly.

I have an e-reader to read some books I don’t want to buy – like this one – and I have some arguments to explain why I prefer the real book to an e-reader: the smell, the touch, the cover, the battery will never go off, the books I love are on my shelves and I can look and touch them whenever I want. Books are way better.

And then there’s this detailed description on how she mistreats her books. Because, she says, the books are merely the portal to the story, so she does them things I don’t even want to mention because that makes me shudder. She has an abusive relationship with her books, and the more abused and tortured, the better… OK Lauren, now I’m not so sure I want to talk to you about books for hours anymore…

Also she claims that “a real reader doesn’t save up for an expensive printing if a book”. And who are you to define who is a real reader or not based on this crappy argument?

The classification of genres in literature was the only true useful thing I found in this book, though of course that classification is subjective.

And then she has a nervous breakdown, I think due to her frustration of being rejected by several publishers over the years…

So that’s why I’m hugely disappointed with this book, I thought this would be like a love letter to books and to readers around the world, a celebration of books. Instead, this is a book for phonies.
I didn’t review myself on her relationship with books and, though I agree with Lauren when she says that books are the portals for stories, they are much more than that, because for me books are the objects of my love. If they were only for reading, then I would only have an e-reader, and never buy a book. But no, I love to see the beautiful covers, to smell new and old books, to feel the touch, the weight and to anticipate and imagine the possibilities of the story I will find in them.
Profile Image for Tristy.
714 reviews54 followers
April 3, 2014
This book came into my life through the Book Riot’s Second Quarterly Box (#BKR02). I never thought this genre would actually exist, but this book falls squarely into "chick lit for book nerds." Without a doubt, there is an audience for that, but it certainly isn't me. There is so much sassy snark that it's hard to read between the lines and realize that Lauren Leto is actually extremely well-read, has a great sense of humor and is an unapologetic book nerd. You'd think all three of those factors would make a great book and it would, if she didn't decide to write like the worst Jezebel.com writer and snark her way through irony-land. There are definitely brilliant moments, but they are dwarfed by the endless stand-up monologue of making fun of everything and everyone. I can't wait until we move past this current cultural climate of not being able to genuinely like anything - where everything has to be coated in this "I love this, but I don't really because OMG look at how dumb everything is..." But I've got hope for Ms. Leto and I'm definitely going to pay attention to what she writes in the future.
Profile Image for Simone Hagemann.
783 reviews112 followers
August 22, 2015
Jeg havde ret høje forventninger til denne, da jeg havde hørt rigtig meget godt om den, og samtidig synes den lød helt fantastisk. Desuden virkede det som en bog, jeg bare måtte læse, da jeg jo virkelig elsker bøger, og samtidig også er ret begejstret for bøger om bøger.

Bogen var virkelig god, og jeg slugte den sammenlagt på nogle få timer. Da jeg modtog den med posten, begyndte jeg nemlig straks at læse i den, og selvom jeg havde en masse andet, jeg burde lave istedet, så kunne jeg simpelthen ikke slippe den igen. Dette var dog kun indtil, jeg nåede til anden halvdel af bogen, eller mere præcist til 'Part 3 - How to fake it'. Selvom der var noget af det, jeg var ret begejstret for i denne del, så kedede det meste af det mig virkelig, og der var flere steder, hvor jeg overvejede at skippe noget, men hvor jeg endte med at kæmpe mig lidt igennem det.

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.

Jeg synes, en stor del af 'Part 3' bare var beskrivelser af andre bøger, hvilket jeg uden tvivl altid ville finde virkelig kedeligt, når det er ikke er noget, jeg har forventet, eller selv opsøgt. Desuden så handlede det meget om bøger, som jeg nok burde læse, men hvoraf de fleste aldrig er noget, jeg kommer til at læse, fordi jeg simpelthen ikke har lyst. Hvilket dermed også gjorde det ret kedeligt at læse om.

Når det er sagt, så elskede jeg virkelig den første del af bogen, som jeg fandt virkelig fantastisk. Der var så mange gode ting i denne del af bogen, og jeg følte virkelig, den var skrevet præcis til netop mig. Hvilket jeg elskede - især fordi jeg virkelig følte, at rigtig meget af det, kunne havde været noget, jeg selv havde tænkt over eller oplevet.

With great authors, it's not until finishing a book that we're reminded there was a puppet master as the author smiles up from the back cover.

Bogens sprog var virkelig godt, og det hele var skrevet i en meget let tone. Hvilket gjorde det dejlig let at læse, og fik læsningen til at flyde rigtig godt. Desuden er bogen spækket med virkelig skønne sætninger, og jeg markerede en del helt fantastiske sætninger. Ikke nødvendigvis fordi sproget i dem var helt fantastisk, men fordi betydningen af dem uden tvivl var det.

Selvom der var en del af bogen, jeg ikke var helt så vild med, så er det dog stadig en bog, jeg virkelig gerne vil anbefale til bogelskere. Desuden skal jeg helt sikkert genlæse en dag - selvom jeg nok nøjes med at læse den første halvdel, og udvalgte steder i resten af den.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
205 reviews
March 11, 2013
I almost quit at page 58 in the chapter "The rules of book club," when she characterized Jane Austen as sentimental: "One Bronte sister for the life of the book club. And no Austen. You should've quenched your thirst for the sentimental novel in high school."

Forged ahead a few more pages and then quit - her style is too flippant for my liking.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
332 reviews150 followers
October 25, 2012
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 greater 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.
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?
Profile Image for Brenda Daun.
458 reviews9 followers
August 7, 2020
I’m sensing a trend in the books about books that I’ve been reading lately. Like many of the other books of its kind, I wanted to like this book more than I did.

There were some essays that were funny, poignant, and moving, where the author truly feels like a fellow book lover who understands. Then there are other essays that are just snarky one liners disguised as clever observations.

The inconsistent tone and abrupt end to the different chapters in the book made for an occasionally entertaining but ultimately condescending and tiresome book.
Profile Image for Matthew.
510 reviews2 followers
October 7, 2021
This is a light, nice book from a reader, to readers. I enjoyed it. 3.5 to 4 stars. 😀
Profile Image for Jackie.
521 reviews63 followers
July 3, 2014
This book ended up on my shelf through Book Riot’s 2nd Quarterly box. Admittedly, this book is not my typical reading fare and most likely I would not have picked it up on my own. I’m not really into non-fiction, but most of all I don’t like the concept behind this book. I don’t want to be pretentious and judge people based on their book tastes and I certainly don’t feel the need to fake read anything. I know it’s supposed to be a humorous book, but even in a humorous manner I don’t think it’s a message that should be encouraged. Anyway, I have a crap load of books at the moment between receiving the 3rd Quarterly Box and attending BookCon so I’m trying to read whatever quick and easy books are in my collection and this was one of them.

I really tried going into this book with an open mind, especially when I saw that Leto is supposed to be a humorous writer. The problem was that I wasn’t sure what the intention behind the book was and now that I’ve read it I’m still not clear on the intention. I thought it was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek kind of guide, but interspersed amongst the “guide” chapters are chapters where Leto spouts her opinion on various bookish things and then there are other chapters where she describes her love of reading. Because of this formatting the book felt rather schizophrenic to me and unclear as to its purpose since it didn’t quite fit the “guide” description.

The guide parts and most of the opinion chapters where actually my least favorite. These were the parts where I thought Leto came off as pretentious, judgmental, and definitely way too snarky. I think she was trying to come off as funny in some of these chapters, but most of the time it felt like she was taking herself too seriously. I, particularly, hated the guides because they were just tedious to read (I skimmed a lot) and seemed to be the longest chapters. Most of the authors or books mentioned I either don’t know or don’t care for. Plus, like I said before I have no desire to fake read nor should people fake read just to claim they are “well read”. You can’t possibly read every book out there in a lifetime. This stupid trend of reader shaming based on what a person has read and their book tastes really has to go.

As for the opinion chapters there were very few times when I actually agreed with Leto. Most of her points were on the lame side. For example, in the chapter called “The Written Word” Leto writes, “There’s a reason why book lovers are the last ones to hold out in this digital revolution.” Um, what does that mean? I have an e-reader and I listen to audio books, yet I own hundreds of dead tree books…am I not a reader because I’ve learned to embrace technology? Leto claims that ereaders don’t let us identify each other as readers and do not allow us to mark up the margins *shudder*. While, I agree I can’t tell if the dude on the subway is actually reading or checking the score on his iPad…who gives a fuck? How many gifs we’ve seen of readers getting mad because they’ve been interrupted while reading? As a reader, I know better than to interrupt someone else’s reading time and I would never strike up a convo and I hope that other readers will also respect my space. While it’s fun to peek at people’s book covers to see what they’re reading that’s just curiosity and it seems like Leto is mad because her curiosity is not being fulfilled. As for the margin thing, I won’t even go into full detail on what Leto does to her books. This chick straight up abuses her poor books and claims that the outer book is just the portal to the story. I agree with this to a certain point since I own many used books and cheap paperback copies, but there is nothing like a beautifully bound book with a great story waiting inside. A book like that shouldn't be abused. And just because I desire a beautiful book doesn’t mean I am not a real reader.

Ok, so what did I enjoy from this book that I gave it 2 stars instead of 1? Well, the chapters I enjoyed the most were the ones that read like a book loving memoir because as a rather obsessive book nerd I could relate to Leto’s journey as a reader. For example, I thought the chapter on when she was in Japan worrying about getting an English version of the next Harry Potter before her brother was pretty awesome. I also adored it when she talked about her grandparents, particularly how her grandmother gave her the gift of reading. That chapter in particularly was beautiful and the only standout chapter, imo The rest I could of done without.

Bottom line, if you want to fake read some classics, best-sellers and some Russian lit then this is the book for you. The pretentious literature crowd will enjoy this.
Profile Image for Elena.
143 reviews36 followers
February 10, 2019
"For the Love of Print," "Fan Fictions," "How to Fake it," "Snark Bait," are just a few of the chapter titles from this book. Initially, when I chose to read this book, I thought I was in for a real ride - something unique, out-of-the box, something that was going to make me laugh and at the same time maybe show me a different perspective on books. The book fell short for me in some areas, but it did give some new perspectives.

"Want to impress the hot stranger at the bar who asks for your take onInfinite 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." GoodReads

I love that Lauren Leto began the book with the story of her childhood experience when her teacher complimented her on being such a great reader that all she did thereafter as a result was read. Her parents were painfully upset with the teacher, can you believe it? I wonder if Lauren Leto is truthful in her story. How can a parent be upset that their child is reading all the time? Go ahead, give your thoughts on that, I wonder how many of you are understanding with that concept :).

I began to understand the worry her parents had when I read the following confession from Lauren Leto: "I'm an anxious person. My guess (gathered from an unscientific survey of fellow readers and the uneducated opinions of my family) is that this may be the result of years of overexposure to fictional worlds and underexposure to real-world activities such as recess, school dances, and cocktail parties. I'm not very comfortable in settings and situations most people take for granted as part of the comings and goings of everyday life." How many of readers and writers can relate to such an anxious experience of life? I know I have had my moments, whether it's a result of my exposure to so many fictional worlds or not may be up for discussion. Maybe her parents had a legitimate reason to worry for her being with her head in books all the time? Maybe. Maybe not. Sometimes the risk is more than worth it.

I loved the part in the book when she talks about how the best books "expand and challenge the mind," and how the "easy books don't have images that come to you suddenly when you're alone on a street corner and a passing man's face suddenly strikes you, like the line in Jeffrey Eugenide's Middlesex, as 'rumpled like an unmade bed.'" I have had many moments when at random a line in a great book will strike me just as she mentions here. This is one of the most beautiful marks a book can leave on you.

Suffice it to say the book starts out fairly strong. It lost me in the middle at some point, and I found myself flipping through a chuncky portion. Towards the end of the book, though, there are a few chapters worthh slowing down for, particularly "Fan Letters," "Little-Known Treasures," and "What Your Child Will Grow Up to Be if You Read Them.." All fairly awkward, funny, and absolutely uniquely opinionated. When I am reading a book on books, it's almost a given that I expect an opinionated writer, and so I enjoyed her writing very much in these chapters.

As for the chapter on "How to Fake it?" Booksellers, this is your chapter. If you want a cheat-sheet of what to briefly know about books and how to mention small bits about each book to your customers, go ahead and just read this chapter if the rest of the book does not interest you.

Lastly, I want to say that I was so happy about how the book ends. The last paragraph of the book is a great way to summarize the thoughts and ideas of books, in general.

"The greatest arguments for the oneness of humanity is the recognition that we are all emotional beings, subject to the fantasies of a story. We talk about this event we went through alone because it connects us together. You're never more human than when you realize a sentence has the power to push and pull the emotions of millions."
Profile Image for Jennifer Rayment.
1,281 reviews53 followers
November 22, 2012
The Good Stuff

Wickedly funny often good naturedly snarky
Actually learned a lot & not just how to pick up a guy in a bookstore/library
Love the fact that she adores Evanovitch as much as the literary elite
Wonderful suggestions that will help me in my job as a bookseller and Librarian
Cannot say enough about the chapters Book Critic's Bag of Tricks - which has given me many new words for my reviews
Fabulous message about the importance of books
Touching and personal
Loved the chapter What your child will grow up to be if you read them .. It's hilarious and spot on -- and btw I read them a lot of Seuss so phew things are looking good for my boys
The chapter How to Fake it will come in extremely well at my part time job ; )
A compelling, pithy read - see chapter Book Critic's Bag of Tricks
And no I will not lend this book to you --- go buy your own

The Not So Good Stuff

Wanted more
The Classifying literature chapter was far too intelligent for me

Favorite Quotes/Passages

"You would've thought I'd learn after that. Books aren't good gifts for people who don't read. But like a maniac, I keep shoving books into nonreader hands. I picture myself as not unlike John the Baptist. But instead of preaching for Jesus, I'm preaching for stories."

"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 from Camus by memory."

"They're BEAUTIFUL THINGS, tangible books. The iPad, Nook, and Kindle are swiftly taking away our ability to instantly judge people by their choice of reading material in public places, but for a little while longer, you'll be able to strike up a conversation with a stranger, or silently mock them, as you notice them cracking open a wonderfully bulky copy of I am Charlotte Simmons."

Who Should/Shouldn't Read

For those who passionately love the written word
Perfect gift for the book lover
Not for those who aren't crazy about books

4 Dewey's

I received this from William Morrow in exchange for an honest review

Profile Image for Cheryl.
5,258 reviews195 followers
December 30, 2012
I picked up this book because the premise of it and the book cover got my attention. Also, I am always in the mood for a good laugh or two. Well I have to say that there were a few moments when I did laugh but not at much as I had hoped. I was looking for the kinds of laughs that would have me wanting to read the lines over again and almost have tears of laughter. This did not happen for me. This was a bummer. Just like with some of the readers, I bounced around in this book.

However, I did pick up a few interesting tips from this book like for example for any non readers who are trying to sound smart and impress a true reader…Don’t mention that you are planning to pick up a copy of any of the latest top ten best sellers or a book that has recently been turned into a movie. Of course, if you were really smart of happened to pick up a copy of this book, then you could always flash forward to the chapter “How to Fake It”. It teaches you how to “fake” reading some of the classic authors, without having really read them.

Another chapter that I like was “Stereotyping people by favorite author”.

For example:

Stephanie Meyer…People who type like this “OMG. Mah fAvvv <3 <3.

J.K. Rowling…Smart geeks

Jodi Picoult… Your mom when she’s at her time of the month

David Foster Wallace…Confirmed nineties literati

Dan Brown…People who used to get lost in supermarkets when they were kids

Emily Giffin…Women who give their boyfriends marriage ultimatums

James Patterson…Men who score a 153 on their LSAT exam

George Orwell…Conspiracy theorists

F. Scott Fitzgerald…People who get adjustable-rate mortgages

Alice Sebold…People who liked Gilmore Girls-even the first season

The Brothers Grimm…Only children with Oedipal complexes

Tom Clancy…People who skipped gym by hiding under the bleachers

Overall, this book is a conversation piece.
Profile Image for Karen Ng.
472 reviews91 followers
April 20, 2016
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.
Profile Image for Claudia.
2,494 reviews88 followers
February 18, 2013
Fun! It's apparent, with every word, that Leto is a book lover -- that she gets it at many different levels. She gives advice on how to fake a conversation about an author, but even that didn't offend me the way other books have. She comes from her deep love of books and words and authors, and I'll give her lots of leeway. From her introduction, discussing her public school teachers' frustrations with her constant reading, through her advice about bookstore hookups, public reading, book clubs, writing like various authors, she is having a ball, and it shows.

I think my favorite chapter was how to stereotype a reader based on his or her favorite authors. I thought of my own reading preferences, and my students. And the chapter about classifying literature? Awesome.

This is a fast read, made most enjoyable if you've actually READ the books she talks about. Moving tributes to her grandparents and their deep love of books.

I'll be reading parts of this in class...have actually bookmarked several passages to share with individual students.
Profile Image for Ashley.
166 reviews20 followers
December 21, 2014
Leto vacillates between amusing and pretentious as she discusses her life as a bookworm, New York literary culture and dispenses tips on how to fake being a reader. Some of her quips fell flat, the "Book Critic's Bag of Tricks" was just a list of half-rate SAT words with some pop culture references thrown in, others made me laugh out loud. My greatest problem with Judging a Book by Its Lover lies with its lack of direction. The different chapters feel disjointed and the organization of the chapters into parts made little sense. After finishing this book, I still couldn't tell you what the point of this self proclaimed "Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers". Was it supposed to be a memoir? A satire of the contemporary literati? A collection of old blog posts? I don't care now and I doubt I'll ever think of this book again.

Grade: C
Profile Image for Beth Knight.
305 reviews5 followers
February 18, 2013
My rating for this is actually between 3.25 and 3.5. Parts of it were great. The first part was mostly funny and the last part had some touching moments. This book took me weeks to complete because after I breezed through the first 126 pages comes the chapter "How to Fake It", which I found to be mostly boring and, unfortunately, this is the longest chapter in the book (78 pages). I'm sure the chapter was meant to be funny but most of it wasn't, especially when the author was discussing books I'd never read, which makes sense since I didn't understand those "in jokes." It was nice at the end of the book to read about her family and how reading influenced their lives. Overall this was a fairly good book but certainly not a "must read."
Profile Image for Amanda.
154 reviews18 followers
October 22, 2012
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.
Profile Image for Sandy D..
1,014 reviews31 followers
October 5, 2012
This wasn't about judging books (and mostly just literary type books, with just a couple references to sci fi and chick lit - no romance, mysteries or other genre fiction),so much as judging readers. I vehemently disagreed with Leto a couple of times - but she still had some pretty funny insights into the reading world. If you were an English major in college (or sometimes wish you had been!), you may enjoy this. Borrow it from the library, though, don't buy it.
Profile Image for Marla Glenn.
866 reviews3 followers
March 19, 2013
This "field guide for readers" has some pretty funny sections, such as how your kids will turn out if you read them certain books like "Green Eggs and Ham," or "Love You Forever." I want my friend Cindy to see that. She's brutally honest about how book people lie to each other; about her feelings about various authors; and even how to pick someone up in a bookstore. I giggled a lot at the chapters I read.
353 reviews4 followers
January 12, 2015
The good essays were entertaining, but when things got snarky in here, they tended to get uncomfortable. When a writer employs sentence fragments way too often and can't use the word "comprise" correctly in a sentence, that writer should be careful about criticizing other writers. That being said, every bit of static thrown toward memoirists is deserved, IMHO. The pretentiousness was tolerable as long as we shared the pretensions.
Profile Image for Stefanie.
1,377 reviews20 followers
June 20, 2015
I couldn't like this book if I tried.
She tells us to not read Austen in a book club because we should be over her in high school and then insults beloved children's books and predicts what you'd grow up to be like if you read them. She also insults Harry Potter. Well I think she does because if she's trying to be funny it fails.
Happy I took this out of the library and didn't spend my money on it.
Thought it was going to be so different than what it actually was.

Profile Image for Lori.
678 reviews13 followers
November 11, 2012

I love books about books and this one has sarcasm and humour too so it was my kind of book.
Leto is a true bibliophile and her take on what the books we choose say about us is dead on.

I loved (LOVED) the chapter on favourite authors and what kind of people choose them for their favourites. Laughed out LOUD!

Displaying 1 - 30 of 263 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.