How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read

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Bloomsbury USA, Oct 30, 2007 - Literary Criticism - 208 pages
26 Reviews

The runaway French bestseller hailed by the New York Times as "a survivor's guide to life in the chattering classes."

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 attention from critics around the world, literature professor and psychoanalyst Pierre 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.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tchelyzt - LibraryThing

Have you ever felt culturally inferior when conversation turns to literature and you haven’t read or can’t remember the books being discussed? Maybe you’ve heard of them but fear that offering an ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - tjsjohanna - LibraryThing

I thought some of this book was funny as in absurd - the idea that you can know a book better if you don't read it, for instance. I also thought the idea of understanding how a book fits into the ... Read full review

Contents

Books You Dont Know
3
Books You Have Skimmed
14
Books You Have Heard Of
32
Copyright

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About the author (2007)

Pierre Bayard is a professor of French literature at the University of Paris VIII and a psychoanalyst. He is the author of Who Killed Roger Ackroyd?and of many other books. Jeffrey Mehlman is a professor of French at Boston University and the author of a number of books, including Emigré New York. He has translated works by Derrida, Lacan, Blanchot, and other authors.

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