While reading is one of my favorite hobbies, cigar study has never really driven me to the realm of books. The majority of information I have learned has come from word of mouth or experiences, verification of information online and other electronic research. When Cigar Inspector approached me to review a newly released book I jumped at the opportunity to explore a new (to me) avenue of learning in the hopes that I might not only be able to learn something myself but also convince those less inclined to read that it can be fun if you choose the right content. The vehicle for accomplishing this is Lawrence Dofman's book The Cigar Lover's Compendium : Everything You Need to Light Up and Leave Me Alone.
In order to understand the purpose of this book, the reader need only look as far as the title. A compendium is a summary of a larger knowledge base that while to the point, still offers a certain amount of depth. Based on this descriptive title I would expect the book to cover the gamut when it comes to cigar information including the historical progression of tobacco, information about the various types of cigars, selecting and smoking them and pretty much the highlights from each vital area of the cigar world, which so many of us have come to enjoy.
Dorfman does a very good job at staying true to the focus of his book and that is to provide the reader with a portable reference guide and means of entertainment. He does not distribute five hundred pages on the American and Cuban Tobacco industries but touches on the key elements contributing to their differing pasts. Additionally, the author does a very good job of walking the reader through the entire smoking process beginning with locating a cigar, followed by selection, cutting, lighting and finally enjoying the experience. He does this without attempting to cover thousands of brands, vitolas, or blends. His down to earth attitude and straightforward approach serve to cut through the mystique of cigar smoking making for a very approachable read.
On the whole The Cigar Lover's Compendium (available from Amazon) is a very good basic reference guide. It will not exhaust a single topic but again, that is not its purpose. A person who is new to the hobby or has not thought about the cigar experience byond just the smoking of a cigar will benefit from the book greatly. Although I would not suggest someone who has been around the proverbial cigar block make this their must-read, there are enough poems, anecdotes and random factoids to interest even the most experienced aficionado. Personally, I enjoyed the read and it has sparked interest in areas that I will research more indepth but having completed it, will likely pass my copy onto a friend or acquantaince to enjoy further, rather than keeping it around to continually utilize.
Now for the fun part - courtesy of Robert Sembiante from Globe Pequot Press, we've got 6 copies of The Cigar Lover's Compendium to give away. That's right, SIX copies. Just leave a comment on this post to be entered. US only. The winners will be chosen at random and announced in one week.