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

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

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by Lauren Leto
     
 

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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

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Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

Omnivoracious.com
“If CliffsNotes had an opinion and a couple of drinks under their belts, they’d sound like Lauren Leto.”
James Frey
“It’s On the Origin of Species for the library set.”
Christian Lander
“In terms of allowing me to sound smart at cocktail parties, this book surpassed my English degree by page twelve.”
Wylie Overstreet
“Leto is as funny as she is well-read; a delight for bibliophiles and wannabes alike.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062070142
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/02/2012
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 7.82(h) x 0.66(d)

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Read an Excerpt

Judging a Book by Its Lover


By Lauren Leto

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2012 Lauren Leto
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-207014-2


Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Commercial Confessions


I'm a very 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. For example, traveling: traveling with me is an experience I wouldn't want to wish on anyone— and I go to great lengths to save friends and family the trouble. Accompanying me on planes and in cars is nightmarish. If it weren't for the helpful tricks that I've come to rely on, I don't know how I'd get anywhere. I've developed ways to deal with my anxiety, tics that keep the pressure down and keep the terror at bay. These quirks are my dirty little secrets. Sometimes it's just two stiff drinks at the airport TGIF before boarding; other times the situation calls for more drastic actions to divert my attention from my mounting anxiety over the prospect of hurtling forward on a road or through the sky. I need something a little more potent.

I'm telling you this because I want to be as honest as possible with you. Janet Evanovich books are my booze; I can't board a plane without checking the airport bookstore to find the newest tale of Stephanie Plum. If I've read all the available Evanovich, I have to pick the next easiest, sleaziest thing. I started and finished Twilight on red-eye trips from Detroit to Los Angeles and back; I conquered New Moon before touch down from New York to San Francisco. I wept over Idaho while reading the first Hunger Games. At these moments I need my reading easy and quick; I need to turn the pages without knowing it. I don't have the bandwidth to wonder about the underlying meaning of the exact word chosen to phrase how one turned around or analyze just why an object was described in a certain way. I need distraction, not deep thoughts.

I make this distinction because most of this book is about avoiding bad books, and I don't want a reader to think I'm being an elitist snob. 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. Loving young adult novels well past adolescence isn't a sign of stunted maturity or intelligence. The most important thing about reading is not the level of sophistication of the books on your shelf. There is no prerequisite reading regimen for being a bookworm.

Let's all embrace the fact that The Da Vinci Code has sold more copies than all of Saul Bellow's works combined. Dan Brown and his ilk are keeping our bookstores in semi-business. If America chooses easy escapism over dense dialogue, we should welcome that decision with equanimity.

When it comes to reading, whatever floats the boat. And if someone deems your reading choice frivolous, who cares? If it's what you want to read, go for it.
(Continues...)


Excerpted from Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto. Copyright © 2012 by Lauren Leto. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Meet the Author

Lauren Leto dropped out of law school to start the popular humor blog “Texts from Last Night.” She co-authored the book Texts from Last Night: All the Texts No One Remembers Sending. She lives in Brooklyn.

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