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.
Topics: Essays, Witty, Communication, How-To Guides, and Informative
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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 (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?