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Judging a Book by Its Lover: A Field Guide to the Hearts and Minds of Readers Everywhere Paperback – October 2, 2012

28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“If CliffsNotes had an opinion and a couple of drinks under their belts, they’d sound like Lauren Leto.” (

“It’s On the Origin of Species for the library set.” (James Frey, author of A Million Little Pieces)

“In terms of allowing me to sound smart at cocktail parties, this book surpassed my English degree by page twelve.” (Christian Lander, author of Stuff White People Like)

“Leto is as funny as she is well-read; a delight for bibliophiles and wannabes alike.” (Wylie Overstreet, author of The History of the World According to Facebook)

From the Back Cover

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.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062070142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062070142
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,169,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Liviania VINE VOICE on October 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
I know lots of people who enjoy reading Texts from Last Night, but who view it as a hive of scum and villainy. Co-founder Lauren Leto proves that she might get her Faulkner on, but she's still a witty, well-read woman and any bookworm will recognize her insight into our lives as the truth.

I'm tempted just to quote the entire book in order to convince you to read it. Here's a bit from the first chapter, Commercial Confessions, in which Leto admits her love of Janet Evanovich:

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 of Camus from 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.

JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS LOVER will teach you how to make a bookstore hook-up, how to pretend to have read an author, and how to properly participate in a book club. It will even teach you how to stereotype people by their favorite author, but it won't teach you to look down on them. Leto's definitely critical of certain books, authors, and techniques, but she's writing with a true passion for reading.

I laughed through the entirety of JUDGING A BOOK BY ITS LOVER. But as much as I enjoyed it, I am not passing this one on. Leto's book is staying on my shelf and my friends can get their own copies. I hate for this one to never be returned.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sheri Newton on October 19, 2012
Format: Paperback
Judging a Book by Its Lover by Lauren Leto is the absolute perfect book for a book lover to read, laugh with, and give to other book lovers. Leto writes like she is your best friend, and this book is just something you two are privately discussing, over wine, to mock other people with. Book snobs will likely frown at it, but true book lovers will laugh along with it, even if your favorite book or author is slammed.

Judging a Book by Its Lover is a fun, witty read about books, authors, and the people who put them on their bookshelf. As someone who has four bookshelves (with highly contrasting books on each one), reads for hours every day, and finished the Twilight series in a weekend, I'd consider myself a lover of books. Even though I didn't read every book that is mentioned in this book, I found many of the ones I have read in it, or know of the author, and found Leto's witty take on it hilarious.

I love this book and author's writing for many reasons. Here are a few of the top ones for me. She love Harry Potter and thinks J.K. Rowling fans are "smart geeks." She hates the term "bookworm" and thinks it should be changed to "bookcats." She also loves real books over e-books, and continues to give books as gifts, even though she knows not everyone will read them. She is witty and can sum up a book or author quickly, so it is easy for us to now fake having read some "classics" we never really wanted to read anyways.

I highly recommend this book for all book lovers. If you are a book lover, get it. If you know a book lover, buy it for them. Trust me, they'll thank you for it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Judging a Book by Its Lover, Harper Perennial, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Christina (A Reader of Fictions) on October 5, 2012
Format: Paperback
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.
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