John Philipp's Reviews > How to Buy a Love of Reading

How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson
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Jul 29, 09

Read in June, 2009

I am not a book reviewer -- never write them and only on rare occasions read them. I think my reluctance to embrace the book review genre is that, for the most part, the reviewers seem too interested in impressing the reader with their skill at word manipulation and incisive analytical skills.

Yet, in thinking about this book, it occurred to me that the type of book review I could learn from would be the same style I use when trying to understand software, or a website, or, God forbid, a government bulletin. I immediately go first to the FAQs where I can learn quickly, skip the parts I'm not interested in, and connect with questions that are important to me and asked by someone at my level of knowledge without me sounding stupid by asking the very same question.

Also, I feel smarter when I read FAQs that I do when I read something with "______ For Dummies" in its title.

So, here is my book review on "How to Buy a Love of Reading," a first novel by Tanya Egan Gibson, written in the form of FAQs with a little humor thrown in.

Isn't this a book for teenagers?

There is a difference between the prepositions "for" and "about." I suggest any dictionary published since 1823 for clarification. This is a grownup book about teenagers, a number of whom are smarter than you or I on our best day.

Is this one of those books that has a lot of cultural and literary references and fancy words I won't understand and will make me feel stupid? (I had to put Moby Dick down after 33 pages.)

The answer to the first part of your question is "yes," and I bet that didn't stop you from enjoying "Jurassic Park." Also, using several clever devices, Ms. Gibson gives you the meaning of some of these words and references in such a way that your self-esteem is not at jeopardy, even if it should be.

How long is the book?

I assure you, when you are finished you will wish it were longer.

Will it enhance my social reputation to be seen reading this book in the right places?

If by right places you mean Tony's Corner Bar & Grill, no.

In all seriousness, as a writer I read with pen poised to underline. I return later and harvest intriguing examples of plot devices, character descriptions and metaphors, the forms and formats of which I may one day transform or use catalytically in some future writing exercise. It's a good way to experiment with other forms and to short circuit any surfacing symptoms of writer's block.

With "How to Buy a Love of Reading" I downed my pen on page 60. Constant underlining interfered too much with my love of reading this story.

I really liked this story and how my understanding of the characters developed. Not only is this book intriguing and exciting, it's much cheaper than buying a big mansion on Long Island to understand that culture.
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Bessie James John:

I gave this book a really good try. I liked it a little bit at first and kept hoping it would grow on me. It didn't. The author tries too hard to be literary without any substance. Just because you invoke Fitzgerald does not mean you have that kind of talent. Setting your story on Long Island does not make for a modern East Egg/West Egg tale.

If you are a serious writer, I'd be wary of putting down those of us who review books (as well as write them). Some of us love great writers and great readers.

Sorry, but your quote: "I return later and harvest intriguing examples of plot devices, character descriptions and metaphors, the forms and formats of which I may one day transform or use catalytically in some future writing exercise." sounds extremely pretentious -- "catalytically" -- what does that mean? I guess I could stop and try to suss it out, but it's like a lot of this novel -- too much effort, too little return.


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