This one is my mother's fault. She asked if I'd read it, said she thought it was the kind of book I would read, maybe even know the author (I don't). I saw it in the bookstore, read a few pages, and it seemed fine. I saw it on the shelf during a ten-minute dash to the library and grabbed it.
This is a romance/academia novel. Both the romance (Tracy has sworn off men, meets perfect man, loses perfect man after discovering he's not perfect, gets back together with perfect man resolving to work on imperfection issues, and sets off to live happily ever after) and the academia (will Tracy get tenure? why is her mean colleague so mean? what about the crazy graduate student? how many bon mots can her urbane gay colleague toss off) are completely predictable (OK, not completely: I wasn't sure what would happen with the mean colleague and the crazy graduate student, which is why I skimmed to the end instead of quitting, but what happened was both predictable and inadequate). Literary observations are sprinkled throughout, and the romance and academia are sutured together with a thesis about the value of literature about happiness (i.e. "Tolstoy lied"), but that's not so convincing either.
The Washington Post characterizes Tolstoy Lied as, essentially, chick lit with a veneer of big ideas. The San Francisco Chronicle thought it was a beautifully-written contemporary love story. I'm afraid I have to align myself with the Post. The worst part? This book was just boring.