How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read

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Bloomsbury USA, Oct 30, 2007 - Literary Criticism - 208 pages
28 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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User Review  - alexrichman -

Full disclosure: I did actually read this. Doing so is, of course, wholly unnecessary and this book makes a great gift, or coffee table talking point, neither of which require you to crack it open ... Read full review

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User Review  - DellaWanna - LibraryThing

Bayard, a college professor, has spoken about ‒ and even taught ‒ books he hasn't read, an apparently common practice in academia. He dedicates a chapter to four forms of non-reading: never opening ... Read full review


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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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