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How to Buy a Love of Reading Hardcover – May 14, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton / Penguin; 1st edition (May 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525951148
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525951148
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,012,154 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Egan's debut, an odd blend of young adult melodrama and unsuccessful metafiction, winds itself into knots of empty story lines. Recognizing that their dullard daughter, Carley, needs an academic boost, Gretchen and Francis Wells hire author Bree McEnroy to write a book to Carley's specifications. Though Carley's love for reality television and Bree's fondness for self-conscious literary tropes should, in theory, unite to make a delightful story-within-a-story, it is often neglected or underwritten. Meanwhile, the cardboard secondary cast floats around Bree and Carley: there's Hunter, Carley's crush, whose alcoholic rakishness, we are assured, masks a poet's interior; Carley's social-climbing mother and philandering father; and Justin, Bree's college chum, who has become, on dubious merit, a literary star. Carley and Hunter's friendship is jeopardized by both his addictions and her unrequited adoration, and Bree and Justin reconcile. Plagued by thin, when not wildly inconsistent, characterization from the start, the narrative's tendency to flit from character to character without revealing anything memorable or insightful further blurs the point. Unfortunately, there isn't enough heart to redeem the dopiness. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Carley Wells is a high-school junior at a private school in upscale Fox Glen, where families spend an undue amount of time and money outdoing each other’s party budgets. Carley is overweight by 57 pounds (according to her personal trainer), “intellectually impoverished” (according to her English teacher), and has never read a book she liked. Worried about college applications, Carley’s parents (who never read themselves) commission a book for her—a book whose author will be ensconced in their mansion and shown off at Carley’s Sweet Sixteen party—as evidence of the Wells’ “devotion” to good literature. While Carley and “The Author” collaborate on the book, Carley continues to struggle scholastically and socially—especially with her best friend, Hunter, a senior chick magnet with whom she has a deep but platonic relationship. Hunter’s own problems have led to excessive Scotch binges and a Vicodin addiction, unbeknownst to his clueless and apparently uncaring mother. Brimming with literary allusions, commentary on the rich and famous, and the necessary ingredients for a successful novel, Gibson’s ingenious debut succeeds on many levels. --Deborah Donovan

More About the Author

Tanya Egan Gibson's debut novel, HOW TO BUY A LOVE OF READING, was published by Dutton in May 2009. An alumna of Squaw Valley Community of Writers, she is mother to a four-year-old who produces countless construction-paper "books" that she insists Mommy "get published" and an infant whose favorite teether is HTBALOR, and wife to the most patient man in the universe.

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Customer Reviews

There is little character development.
S. McKinney
I really tried to get through this book but I am struggling so much I just cannot finish it.
Lizz A. Belle
To think that someone would need to buy a love of reading is really foreign to me.
Rachel Berbiglia

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Delaney VINE VOICE on May 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I think the notion of hiring someone to write your story or having your parents obsessed with finding you a passion is an enjoyable idea to play with.

And while the book is interesting enough, I am disappointed with the characters behaviors overall. The writing is fine if you dig super long sentences (I'm not a fan but I know readers who are). But the characters, they are awful people, and not in a tongue and cheek fun way, and not kids who really have reason for angst and are on a path to redemption for either the reader or themselves. They come across as over privilged whiners that I sort of kind of wouldn't mind if they fall on their faces.

This book is aimed at young adults. With my volunteer work I work with a lot of young adults and I can honestly say I could not in good conscience recommend this book to any of the teens I work with.

The book is told in slow moving layers with loathsome characters who are either absurd, foolish or apathetic. Carly our most apathetic in the beginning of the book does develop into a somewhat more likeable character she does develop some strengths, but is still coddling a "friendship" or "relationship" that would make the most liberal of parents cringe. And maybe the book is really great and I missed it, and maybe the charcters weren't so awful and maybe the point was to foster a relationship I don't understand. But the fact that I reached the end of the book and wasn't sure what the point really had been or how I was supposed to feel or even why I felt empty about the book means - I didn't like it and I wouldn't recommend it.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Book Dork VINE VOICE on April 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Tanya Egan Gibson's debut novel How to Buy a Love of Reading is about more than just wealth and snobbery. It's about growing up, struggling with addiction and realizing that "money can't buy happiness" (Egan's character Bree would shudder at such a cliche).

Thought Provoking and Entertaining because...
- The characters start off seeming very one dimensional, yet as the story unfolds a profound depth appears in many of them. And those that aren't granted depth are denied purposefully- they don't deserve it.
- I appreciated the levels of relationship presented in the novel, especially between main characters Carley and Hunter, and the two writers Justin and Bree. They all have faults and do their share to cause havoc, but you can't but to hope that everything turns out okay in the end.
- The writing is quite entertaining; Gibson does a fantastic job satirizing many elements of this wealthy demographic. There is also true emotion that makes you sympathetic to people and things you may not normally feel bad for.
- The story within a story aspect was amusing (the story Bree writes for Carley is set on a reality show set), but also supported the whole reality vs. false appearances theme.

A Few Problems:
- The story is a bit difficult to get into; the first fifty or so pages aren't the best representative of the novel itself. Don't quit, just keep going. Forgiveness is a really important concept in the book...
- Some people are going to protest that the characters aren't realistic; I had no problem with this, since the characters represent more than just themselves.
- There are a few sections that I felt weren't necessary, you'll recognize them when you read them. Luckily there aren't many and they don't last long.

This is a novel for someone who is willing and able to peel back the layers and actually see it for what it's worth.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By S. McKinney on February 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I read the first few pages of this book and felt a bit dubious, but decided to plow ahead, only because my parents raised me not to be a quitter and not because this novel showed any particular promise of good things to come. A slow beginning turned into a slow middle, which finally resolved itself into a stuttering *pfffffft* of a slow end.

And did I mention depressing? The blurb on the jacket came nowhere near to what this book is actually about: the premise sounded really funny, and I had the impression I was going to be taken on an Austen-esque ride through the manners and mores of the twenty-first century old and new monied snobs of Fox Glen. I thought that Carley, dismissed by just about every adult around her as being without substance or passion or...brains (like her parents) would turn out to be a girl of rich depth who was comically and tragically misunderstood by all the high-society dopes around her.

Instead, this is a book about teen angst; the inability to overcome addictions to unrequited love, alcohol and Vicodin; petty and elaborate meanness cloaked by what passes for caring in this cast of unlikable characters and no one -- no one at all -- having any true kindness or compassion or understanding of the human condition, all showcased in an overwritten, self-indulgent style that the author's editor should not have let her get away with.

There is little character development. There is even less character growth, unless you want to count Carley's suddenly skipping over four years and becoming a whole new her in the last four pages of the book. The plot is so weighed down by the author's need to turn this mess into something as nihilistic and pretentious as F.
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