Summary

"If cultured people are expected to have read all the significant works of literature, and thousands more are published each year, what are we supposed to do in those inevitable social situations where we're forced to talk about books we haven't read? In this book, a huge hit in France that has drawn attention from critics and readers around the world, literature professor and psychoanalyst Pierre Bayard argues that not having read a book need not be an impediment to having an interesting conversation about it. (In fact, he says, in certain situations reading the book is the worst thing you could do.) Using examples from such writers as Graham Greene, Oscar Wilde, Montaigne, and Umberto Eco, he describes the varieties of "non-reading" - from books that you've never heard of to books that you've read and forgotten - and offers advice on how to turn a sticky social situation into an occasion for creative brilliance."--BOOK JACKET.


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