Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance's Reviews > How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read

How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard
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's review
Jul 24, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: books-about-books, reading
Read in January, 2008

Catchy title. Was it a parody? Was the author writing in earnest? I heard an interview with the author on NPR and realized there might be more to this book than I’d initially thought.

Bayard defines “books you haven’t read” broadly, including the obvious “books never opened”, but adding “books skimmed”, “books you’ve heard about but that you’ve never read”, and “books you’ve read but that you’ve forgotten.” Whew! That doesn’t leave much to put into the book log for the year, does it? How many books, read cover to cover, remain vivid in one’s mind, long after the book has been returned to the shelf?

I took away from this book what I found to be Bayard’s main thought: Don’t let anything stop you from talking about books. Reading, he says, is imperfect. A reader won’t take away from a book the same things another reader will nor the same things the author might have hoped his readers would take away from the book. It is okay, Bayard assures us, to skim books. It is okay to misunderstand books. It is okay to forget books. But, Bayard continues, don’t let any of these things stop you from reading books, from talking about books, from writing about books, from thinking about books.

But, then again, I may have misunderstood the whole thing.
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03/12/2016 marked as: read

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