Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, December 26, 2020

It’s a pretty obvious joke, to post about Pierre Bayard’s “How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read” while not having read it, nor having any intention of reading it.

But I’m gonna do it anyway.

Partly because this excerpt from the book’s introduction saves me from picking it up. And I’ll go one step further and boil down the intro to this most pertinent portion:

There is a tacit understanding in our culture that one must read a book in order to talk about it with any precision. In my experience, however, it’s totally possible to carry on an engaging conversation about a book you haven’t read — including, and perhaps especially, with someone else who hasn’t read it either. Moreover, as I will argue, it is sometimes easier to do justice to a book if you haven’t read it in its entirety — or even opened it. Throughout this book, I will insist on the risks of reading — so frequently underestimated — for anyone who intends to talk about books, and even more so for those who plan to review them.

A better understanding of a work through non-reading. I wish I could spurn this advice, except that I’m as pressured as the next average reader — always full of the best intentions, but rarely with the energy or time resources to actually crack open the desired book.

So I sometimes resort to faking it. I probably do it far more often with movies, although I readily admit to not having actually caught the flick — the preponderance of preview trailers and buzz make it a lot easier to fill in the blanks for silver screen offerings. And more to the point, there’s less stigma in not having taken the time to gawk at a moving-picture presentation than to have neglected the printed word; the former is more passive, even with serious flicks, while the latter is expected to demand more mental energy.

All that said, I’ve actually got my eye on a couple of tomes to digest over the next couple of weeks. I’ll keep the faking-it advice in reserve for future application.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/26/2007 08:46:57 AM
Category: Creative, Publishing
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  1. That is a good idea, and interesting. I still would like to read the book though…there’s certain instances that it will help

    Comment by sir jorge — 12/26/2007 @ 12:39:04 PM

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