Melody
ISBN-13: 9780062070142
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: October 2012
Format: Paperback, 288 pgs
Source: Publisher




Calling out all book lovers (occasional readers and non-readers apply as well)! Have you ever came across a literary guide which not only offer you some insight of the wonder and beauty of reading but also an account of the peculiar world of book culture and how we speak condescendingly about the most revered authors and their literary works even if we haven't read them! 

Author Lauren Leto started off this guide on her introduction to books when she was a child and how she was initially overwhelmed by the words and sentences in books to becoming a well-read reader as she is today. In this guide, she shares with us her opinions and observations of the book culture and some of the titles she read in both snarky and sometimes condescending voice. Either way, she has got me hooked to this guide as she covered some topics such as:

1) The Bookshelf of the Vanities
2) That Certain Bookstore Smell (From Self: Oh yes!)
3) Ten Rules for Bookstore Hookups 
4) Rules for Public Reading and Rules of Book Club
5) Petition to Change the Term from "Bookworm" to "Bookcat" (I like this one!)
6) Fan Letters (Don't we all have the desire to write to our favourite authors at some stage?)
7) How to Write Like Any Author (Names like Stieg Larsson, Malcolm Gladwell, Henry Miller,  Cormac McCarthy... just to name a few)
8) What Your Child Will Grow Up to Be if You Read Them... (like The Giving Tree, Green Eggs and Ham, The Velveteen Rabbit, Harold and the Purple Crayon, The Wind in the Willows, etc)
9) Stereotyping People by Favourite Author
10) Strategies to Avoid Discussing the Major Plot Points of Any Novel
11) A Gift Guide by a Bad Gift-Giver
12) How to Succeed in Classifying Fiction Without Really Trying

Though written in a fun and humorous way, Lauren Leto has a deep admiration for every one of the authors whose work she discussed in this guide and she stated that "there is nothing more beautiful than a well-written book, and there is nothing more admirable than the attempt to create something beautiful", which I agree.  

Here are some of my favourite quotes in this guide (pg 267 - 9) which I think will strike a chord for bibliophiles and the like: 

- Reading is a solitary activity. You can be surrounded by a thousand people, but processing the written words in your brain is something only you are going through. ... A good novel presents you with an engaging world that is a reality only for you. 

- A story is unbiased with respect to the reader. It presupposes nothing about the audience. Books don't require that you read them in a certain place, at a certain time, or with certain equipment. Just eyes. Literature connects by transporting people to the same consciousness; a stranger who's read the same book you've read, whose eyes passed over the same words, may be a part of a completely different environment, and even time, but for a while, at least, they shared a world with you. A community is built out of that isolated experience; an author has the power to build worlds and to populate them not only with characters but also with their readers. 

- Good books command study, presenting you with the puzzle of how and why their plot is laid the way it is  laid - without examination the meaning is lost.

- The greatest argument for the oneness of humanity is the recognition that we are all emotional beings, subject to the fantasies of a story. We talk about this event we went through alone because it connects us together. You're nevermore human than when you realize a sentence has the power to push and pull the emotions of millions. 

To end it all, I enjoyed reading Judging a Book by Its Lover as it has inspired me to read some of the titles which I wanted to read but haven't (e.g. Crime and Punishment, The Catcher in the Rye, etc) but most of all, this guide made me smile as I agree with some of the stuff Lauren Leto mentioned and not to mention it also made me laugh over some of her remarks. Humour, anecdotal, reference... this guide has it all and I think this book would make a great gift to anyone who enjoys reading. 
3 Responses
  1. This sounds so perfect! I'm hoping someone will think to get it for me for Christmas! :--) (of course I'll be leaving lists around for people to find....)


  2. naida Says:

    Hi Mel, this does sound like a great book! I love that quote about reading being a solitary activity.


  3. Trish Says:

    This sounds like such a fun book! I love reading books about other books and like you they often make me want to read the titles I've missed. I'm glad I'm not the only one who hasn't read The Catcher in the Rye!