Lauren Leto is the coauthor of Texts
from Last Night: All the Texts No One Remembers Sending, published in 2010, which I'd touch only if I were, say, stuck in a hostel in Italy on a Sunday without another page of English in sight. (This may or may
not be why I once"”once"”read Dan
Brown.) But with that caveat snugly in place, I'm pleased to report that Leto's
new offering, Judging a Book by Its Lover,
takes today's standard-issue literary snark and elevates it to an art form.
By turns hilarious (in "Stereotyping People by Favorite
Author": "Mitch Albom: People who didn't go to college but do well on crossword
puzzles") and insightful (in "Open Letter to Ayn Rand Fans": "How can you be
so focused and not see that you've chosen the most transparent philosophy to
live your life by?"), Leto manages to avoid her own traps nearly all the time.
Skip the silly intro and the occasional anecdote about her love life"”it's easy
to see them coming"”and focus on her intelligent, biting, surprisingly useful insights about how what we read (or claim to read) reveals who we are.
But above all else, take advantage of Leto's exhaustive "How
to Fake It" chapter, which chronicles the basic facts, best-known works, and
cocktail-party anecdotes about all the authors you'll ever need to cite for
street cred. If CliffsNotes
had an opinion and a couple of drinks under their belts, they'd sound like
Full disclosure: Even if I hadn't thoroughly enjoyed most of
Judging a Book by Its Lover, I'd have
to recommend it anyway because there's an entire chapter about how the author
never finished Infinite Jest.
You might remember a certain Trend Stetter making a similar confession
earlier this year.
Leto also has a penchant for cheap, ugly copies of books
because "crappy paperbacks are tributes to use""”if she ever stops by my house
for a G&T and a snarkfest, I know she'll appreciate the worn stacks of
novels from the annual library sale. We're sisters of the dime-store edition.
So for just a few minutes, if she catches me on a good day, I won't judge.