Parents have long read to kids, but there's power as well in adults reading to adults.
Lauren Leto's new book is a love letter and a hodgepodge. The love letter is directed at reading, and the hodgepodge encompasses, well, lots: Judging A Book By Its Lover features cheat sheets on how to sound like you've read Tolstoy and how to write like Didion, tweet-length reviews of celebrity memoirs, musings on how The Berenstain Bears or Madeline will screw a child up for life, an argument that the term "bookworm" should be replaced by "bookcats," and a guide to the words you'll find in book reviews (Morose! Laconic! Indelible! Bingo!).
And then there are Leto's affectionate essays on the art of reading and its role in shaping our identities and our world. She tells us how to hook up with someone you meet in the bookstore, and about how a love of reading feeds a love of words, debate, and conversation—all very important things in a romantic relationship, she says. But there's one kind of reading that I was sorry to see go unmentioned in Judging A Book By Its Lover: reading aloud.
MORE ON BOOKS
When I was a kid, I was read to a lot. My parents used to read to my sister and I while we were in the bath. The rules were simple. We were grown-up enough to wash ourselves, but if we stopped washing, they would stop reading. This led to a very stop-start sort of storytelling: My sister and I would get too engrossed in the book and forget what we were meant to be doing. To this day, when my mother abruptly stops talking in mid-sentence because I'm checking my phone, or my dad falls silent because I'm biting my nails, I remember those disjointed and wildly inefficient baths.