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How to Really Talk about Books You Haven't Read

3.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  99 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Ever wondered how some people seem to have an opinion on every book ever published? Henry Hitchings introduces the invaluable skill of literary bluffing in this survivor's guide to talking about books you haven't read.
Hardcover, 262 pages
Published January 1st 2009 by John Murray Publishers (first published 2008)
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Community Reviews

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The other day, I was being criticized by certain people for posting a frivolous review of Er ist wieder da despite not having read it. Well, I am the first to admit that my behavior is inexcusable, but I was a little surprised not to have been arrested earlier. Ladies and gentlement of the court, I have been doing this for years. I'm a serial offender. I'm just glad that I've finally had a chance to come clean.

Here are some other reviews I've posted of books I haven't read (I'm afraid this is a
Sep 25, 2011 Nikki rated it really liked it
For the record, I didn't pick up this book to be able to pretend to have read books I actually haven't. When I haven't read a particular book, I'm going to admit it, I'm not going to try and bluff my way through. No, I thought it would be a fun way to learn more about the classics of literature and find out if I would enjoy reading them. And that's exactly what this book did for me. The author describes a myriad of 'difficult' books and writers (Don Quixote, poetry in general, Shakespeare, Tolst ...more
Jun 26, 2015 Sonia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un libro que no tiene cabida en una comunidad lectora como la de goodreads y aún menos traducido al castellano para lectores hispanohablantes.
Este ensayo es una justificación para no leer y pretende enseñar estrategias para poder salir airoso en conversaciones sobre literatura aunque nunca hayas abierto un libro. Llegó a mis manos porque el título me pareció atractivo y pensé que el autor se sacaría de la manga algún truco ingenioso pero como lectora debería haberlo sabido, no hay engaño posible
Al Bità
Mar 18, 2009 Al Bità rated it it was ok
This is a fun read, if you like this sort of thing. The author deals briefly with Austen, Virgil, Homer, Joyce, Dante, Shakespeare, the Bible, the Qur'an, Proust, Tolstoy, Dostoevski, James, Cervantes, Murasaki, Aesop, Chaucer, the Arabian Nights, etc. It is full of tidbits reagarding and their work, all intended to provide the person knowing these things with the 'necesssary information' to impress others about books you haven't read... That, apparently, includes trying to fool College and Univ ...more
Aug 07, 2011 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a strange book, wonderfully amusing in some parts, erudite and impressive in others, but also frequently annoying. I read this not as a bluffer's guide or even how to impress people at parties but to get brief ideas about a selection of writers and books I knew about but had not read. And where it did that I was pleased. I loved the chapters on Shakespeare and Ulysses and Homer/Virgil. I learned much about Dante, the Qur'an, Henry James etc and was more than satisfied with what I discove ...more
Mar 24, 2013 Sonia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ensayo
Quien se acerque a este libro esperando conseguir lo que promete el titulo se va a llevar una decepción, porque el autor pasa de puntillas por algunos (pocos) libros de los que la mayoría hemos oído hablar en numerosas ocasiones, sin añadir nada nuevo.
Si te acercas a él con la intención de que te convenzan para leer esos libros que son clásicos y crees que deberías leer pero temes que te van a aburrir, como es mi caso, tampoco se consigue el objetivo. Aunque a ratos el tono es ameno y el autor s
Sep 18, 2014 Carlos rated it it was ok
Como bibliófilo contumaz, he de reconocer que leer la obra “Cómo hablar efectivamente de libros que no se han leído” (como reza el título original) suponía más un ejercicio de reflexión y memoria –aunque hay algunos textos mencionados en el libro que no he ojeado– que realmente una invitación a no leerlos y sólo ser capaz de hablar de ellos.
Aunque ameno, y con algunas partes interesantes (por ejemplo sus acotaciones: “Cosas que saber sobre Shakespeare”, “Algunos inicios de obras clásicas”, “Idea
Mar 03, 2012 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This took me a long time to read but I'm like that with all non-fiction.

At first I was slightly horrified by the idea that I would want to go around pretending I had read certain books. But to be honest I think that this book is really more about persuading you why you should read all the books you haven't read and it did a pretty good job of that for me. I found a couple of the chapters a bit weak though - the chapters on philosophy and science tried too hard and didn't really say much. Perhap
Jun 01, 2009 Maatia marked it as to-read
Very honest and funny.
Nov 28, 2014 Cosimo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ante nada,creo absurdo impresionar a alguien hablando de libros y autores tan conocidos como los mencionados aqui.Las reseñas y comentarios no me aportan mucho pero se lee facil.
En verdad es ridiculo considerarte mejor que otros por ser un buen lector.
Amanda Markham
Aug 11, 2012 Amanda Markham rated it really liked it

Like many others, I read Hitchings' book much less for the purpose of deceit, than as a primer on the Classics; a sampler which might dare me to attempt Ulysses or Dostoyevsky. I recommend it for this purpose.

Hitchings is far more readable and amusing than 'Beowulf on the Beach' as he doesn't take a linear journey through literary history. His is a quirky, meandering path, where Jane Austen leads to Homer and Henry James leads to Don Quixote. Whilst the book's dry, subtle humour might be lost
Bere Alamilla
May 20, 2015 Bere Alamilla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Un libro lleno de pensamientos extraños sobre muchos iconos destacados de la literatura con un sabor distinto a muchos otros libros. Escrito como ensayo se disfruta bastante.
Apr 13, 2014 Julia marked it as to-read
Another book on my list just for the title, but it may actually be interesting.
Jun 04, 2015 Aydan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doesn't really live up to the promise of its title but still a good read.
Apr 06, 2014 Krollo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english-language
Thanks to this book I can bluff excellently, it is very interesting and has encouraged me to read Dante's Inferno in the original Italian. The only slightly odd part was at the end where there is a very incongruous quiz which requires intimate knowledge of every word Hitchings writes, which disconcerted me a little. Still, it was all well meant, I'm sure. A fun read.
Aug 03, 2011 Tom rated it liked it
Brilliant factual review of the art of literary bluffing. It covers a wide scope of literature, often presenting an unbiased opinion and description. I wish I could retain more of its content after the first reading. It has given me inspiration and added numerous books to my "want to read" category. I will be sure to keep it close at hand.
Una útil herramienta si tienes por costumbre asistir a fiestas, sobre todo si estas duran más de dos días, como una boda. Si no es el caso aún le puedes sacar partido a su sentido del humor e incluso a sus prejuicios, poco amables con Cervantes, pero muy proclives a Shakespeare, por poner un esclarecedor ejemplo. Se lee bien, se pasa bien.
Neville Tirimba Ogoti
Egetabu ekiya, naende kebwate amange igoro y'ebitabu bie chinse chia Ng'umbu. Yarenge koba buya onye kiare korika igoro y'echinse chinde, tari chiria chia Ng'umbu chioka.
Nov 19, 2014 M rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fic
This really does give you the flavour of all those books that just seemed too much to read.
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Henry Hitchings is the author of The Language Wars, The Secret Life of Words, Who’s Afraid of Jane Austen?, and Defining the World. He has contributed to many newspapers and magazines and is the theater critic for the London Evening Standard.
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