Judging a Book by Its Lover …

…  A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere

by Lauren Leto

Reviewed by Stevie Godson

FROM the minute I saw the title of Lauren Leto’s latest book, I was hooked – or, at least, I wanted to be.

It first floated tantalisingly into my view on a list of titles sent to me by the publisher, Harper Perennial. It’s a list I occasionally receive and generally discard on the grounds that: a) I’d be one of too many applying for a relatively few review copies; and, b) most of my reviews these days are written for New York Journal of Books, whose understandably strict rules include not being in direct touch with publishers (which, of course, I wasn’t).

As a long-time book and word blogger, I’ve been receiving the Harper Perennial lists since way before my involvement with New York Journal of Books, so that had nothing to do with why they sent it to me.

And I don’t know the author, either. Another of those sensible rules of which I heartily approve as it eliminates any chance of a conflict of interest, intentional or inadvertent.

Given that Leto’s book has a title that surely appeals only to weirdos like me (though I hope, for her sales’ sake, that assumption’s wrong), the odds of me getting a review copy were pretty strong, I thought. Not only that, I’d be giving it pride of place on my Word Nerds blog, which the publishers would doubtless appreciate – that’s if I didn’t hate their precious baby, of course.

I applied, crossed my fingers, and waited.

Happily, it seems I’m suitably weird – or maybe I just got lucky. Whichever it was, I’m glad. Fellow blogger Leto, who apparently “dropped out of law school to start the popular humour blog Texts from Last Night,” certainly knows her way around a bookshelf.

Not only that, she’ll make sure you do, too, while having you laughing out loud along the way.

Chapter headings give a glimpse of the fun lying in wait within the book’s 288 pages.

Typical is The Bookshelf of the Vanities, in which our bubbly bibliophile mercilessly judges people by what’s on theirs.

After that, Ms Leto provides a torrent of useful delights, including Ten Rules for Bookstore Hookups, Survival of the Nerdiest, The Rules of Book Club, Stereotyping People by Favourite Author, and How to Fake It – literarily speaking, of course.

Talking of which – faking it, that is – I was slightly surprised that the front cover blurb was by James Frey, parts of whose Oprah-adulated “true-life” memoir, A Million Little Pieces, were apparently as authentic as Joan Collins’ eyelashes.

Oh, and lest I be accused of faking it, too, I probably shouldn’t omit to mention the chapter concerning the Book Critic’s Bag of Tricks, into which, I hope, I’ve never fallen.

My only (miniscule) concern is that despite its title, and Leto’s reputation and clearly comic style, the book ends on a sombre, though very moving, note about her late, book-loving grandmother. I understand why she’s included it – I would have, too. I just feel it should have been elsewhere  within this fabulous book, leaving readers on a happy high.

(“Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere” by Lauren Leto is published by Harper Perennial)

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This entry was posted by stevieg on Friday, January 4th, 2013 at 2:21 pm and is filed under A Passion for Words . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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