Mar 11

Book Review: How to Talk about Books you Haven’t Read by Pierre Bayard

Book Review: How to Talk about Books you Haven’t Read by Pierre BayardHow to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard
Published by Bloomsbury USA on 29-09-2009
Genres: non-fiction
Pages: 208
Source: Library

“Provocative, challenging and witty…In challenging the line between reading and non-reading, Bayard actually whet my appetite to read more.”—USA Today With so many important books out there, and thousands more being 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? Pierre Bayard argues that it doesn’t really matter if you’ve read a book or not. (In fact, in certain situations, reading the book is the worst thing you could do.) Championing the various forms of “non-reading,” How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read is really a celebration of books, for book lovers everywhere to enjoy, ponder, argue about—and perhaps even read.

I was intrigued by the title How to Talk about Books you Haven’t Read when it appeared in a recent new release catalogue. I was very tempted to request it for review, but thought that maybe the publishers would start to worry about the authenticity of reviews written by someone who was so keen to find out how to avoid reading books.

I found a copy at my local library last week and couldn’t resist borrowing it. Originally published in France in 2007 by Les Editions les Minuit with the title Comment parler des livres que l’on n’a pas lus?, it was released in English as How to Talk about Books you Haven’t Read in England and the US in 2008 by Granta books. If only I had known, I could have quite legitimately requested it for the European literature section at my World Literature topic at Suite101.

Nevermind, I now have a copy in my hot little hands, albeit temporarily, and I am quite fascinated with the playful logic of the author. I’m rather attracted to whimsical literary discussions (as opposed to intense literary analysis) and this book is likely to appeal to anyone who has ever doubted whether those who speak with such generic enthusiasm about a particular book have ever actually taken the time to read the novel in question.

Given my rather faulty memory, my favourite chapter is Books You Have Forgotten (‘in which, along with Montaigne, we raise the question of whether a book you have read and completely forgotten, and which you have even forgotten you have read, is still a book you have read’).

A great book for fans of good literature and book discussions.

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