Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto

Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto is a guide to the mind of readers everywhere, and it offers some great tips on how to fake it for readers who may not have read some contemporary or classic authors that everyone else has been.  Leto is like many of us in that she says, “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” (page 8).  To that end, she discloses that she’s likely to be found with the latest Janet Evanovich in her hand when she has to fly anywhere.

The initial confessions read like that of any bookworm, with the boxes and boxes of books moved from apartment to apartment and from makeshift bookshelf to re-purposed material made into a bookshelf — in her case, a couple of old ladders (page 13).  Leto even offers a funny little bit about changing the readers’ mascot from a worm to a cat, but one of the most ironic reasons in the book is because cats hold grudges (page 63) — like many do against James Frey from A Million Little Pieces, who offers a witty quote about Leto’s book on the cover.

Through a series of chapters of advice on how to fake having read a particular book, using vague statements and comparisons to popular movies and other writers you may have read, Leto has created an unapologetic homage to reading as entertainment, education, enjoyment, escapism, and understanding.  She even includes a chapter on rules for the book club, which means talking about book club with others not in your club or about the books you are reading in the club as well as how best to end a disagreement over something that happens in one of the books read by the group.  Her observations on members of a book club and their roles from the leader to the quiet (usually girl) member are in line with many readers’ experiences, including those who might even fit those character types in one group or another.

Some of the best aspects of this book are the snarky comments about authors and readers of certain authors, like those who adore Chuck Palahniuk are boys who cannot read and those who love Chuck Klosterman are boys who don’t read.  Leto’s comments about the “Literati,” a chapter with an alternate title of “Why Ernest Hemingway Once Told John Updike Literary New York Is a Bottle Full of Tapeworms Trying to Feed on Each Other,” is hilarious and a warning for those would-be writers out there.  Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto is not really about judging anyone, but it is about having fun with books and reading, making connections even with strangers, and finding happiness in a bent page — to paraphrase her (page 245).

About 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.

This is my 78th book for the New Authors Reading Challenge in 2012.


  1. I can see the humor in this and people have raved about the book itself but why would anyone want to do this? Fake a reading?

    • I’m not sure why you’d want to fake a reading unless you really liked a man and was trying to impress him, but then you’d have to be much younger.

  2. Okay, I’m all over this one!!! 😀

  3. OH I think I need to read this!!! Sounds fantastic.

  4. I am so glad you reviewed this one. I was interested in it but I knew I wouldn’t get around to reading it!

  5. Sounds like a fun one! I am all about story – if it’s not holding my attention, I put it down. After suffering through a lot of mediocre storytelling when I was an undergrad English major, I love that I can now read just what I want. I’ll have to check this one out!

  6. Sounds like the perfect book for us bloggers!

  7. I think I will add that to my goodreads challenge list as well. Sounds like a good book.

  8. This book sounds fabulous! I’d change the mascot to a dog instead of a cat.

  9. This sounds like something I MUST read. I love the author already, after reading her quote about light reading. 😉