How to Talk About Books You Haven't ReadBook - 2007
Presents strategies for discussing books in social situations that readers have forgotten or haven't read, offering examples by writers such as Graham Greene and Umberto Eco.
If civilized people are expected to have read all important works of literature, and thousands more books are published every year, what are we supposed to do in those awkward social situations in which we're forced to talk about books we haven't read? In this delightfully witty, provocative book, a huge hit in France that has drawn huge attention from critics around the world, literature professor and psychoanalyst Bayard argues that it's actually more important to know a book's role in our collective library than its details. Using examples from such writers as Graham Greene, Oscar Wilde, Montaigne, and Umberto Eco, and even the movie Groundhog Day, he describes the many varieties of "non-reading" and the horribly sticky social situations that might confront us, and then offers his advice on what to do. Practical, funny, and thought-provoking, How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read is in the end a love letter to books, offering a whole new perspective on how we read and absorb them. It's the book that readers everywhere will be talking about-and despite themselves, reading-this holiday season.
Check out these articles about the French edition of How to Talk about Books you Haven't Read:
New York Times - 'Read It? No, but You Can Skim a Few Pages and Fake It' by Alan Riding
(also published in the International Herald Tribune)
Chronicle of Higher Education - 'Huckleberry Who? by Lennard J. Davis
Times Online (UK edition) - 'Viewpoint' by Sarah Vine
The Harvard Crimson - 'You've Read 'Gravity's Rainbow'? Bullshit'm by Madeline K. B. Ross
Broad Street Review - 'The only book you'll ever need' by Leonard Boasberg
A lighthearted and provocative French best-seller argues that it is more important to understand a book's relevance than to be familiar with its details, drawing on examples from key modern works while offering specific advice on how to speak knowledgeably in a variety of social occasions.
From the critics
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Thought-provoking, this book will remind readers of sitting in a college literature discussion. This book explores many controversial ideas about whether reading is actually worth the time, if forgetting books is not like they were even written, and if skimming books allows readers to have more original ideas. Most of all, this book teaches readers how to discuss books they haven't read in social environments.
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