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honesty

Mar 17 2009

Pinocchio reader?

by Heather S

1984Last week as I was clicking through news articles online, I came across an interesting one on Reuters.  The article presents a study done by World Book Day, which found that “two out of three Britons have lied about reading books that they haven’t.”

According to the study, the most frequently mentioned titles people have said they have read  (but really have not) are 1984 by George Orwell, War and peace by Leo Tolstoy and Ulysses by James Joyce.

I will admit that I am one of those that have lied about reading certain books.  How else do you think I survived my high school literature classes?  As a sophomore in high school, I had no desire to read 1984 and Portrait of an artist as a young man.  Thankfully, I was smart enough to use Masterplots to pass the test.  If only I had J’Nai’s recommendation, I would have perhaps done better on my essays.  And, please do not judge me harshly or follow my lead;  I have reformed and can now honestly admit what I have and have not read!

Are you an honest reader?  Any books that you say you’ve read, but haven’t?

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question mark

I saw the title of this book in DCPL’s catalog and I was intrigued almost immediately. Often, as a library worker, I’m drawn into conversations about books I have not read.

“Do you know the latest James Patterson?”

“What are Eric Jerome Dickey’s books like?”

“Do you remember that passage in War and Peace…?”

The answer to these questions is “I don’t know”. Usually–and sometimes sheepishly–I’ll cop to the fact that I’m uninformed about a book. I love books as much as the next guy but it’s often difficult for me to keep up with the voracious book appetites of our patrons (you guys are Book Monsters!).  So I picked up the book How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read (Bloomsbury) by Pierre Bayard. I haven’t actually completed it yet but judging by some of the chapter titles such as “Books You Have Forgotten,” “Imposing Your Ideas” and “Inventing Books,” I get the feeling that I’ll really enjoy it.

Digressing back to my point, book-honesty is always the best policy. Often I’ll just say “I haven’t read this book yet but I’ve heard great things,” which is true–usually. Saying something like this will usually provide an opening in conversation in which a literature-loving patron can gush about the merits of a book–his favorite passages, in-depth character analysis or critique of the book’s author.

Talking about book you haven’t read can be great fun so I look forward to reading Mr. Bayard’s book. I’ll let you know how it turns out if you like.

how to talk about books you haven't read

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