Most of the people who criticize this book are referring to the English translation How To Talk About Books You Haven t Read If you take the trouble to consult the original French edition, you ll see all sorts of clever allusions to the intertextual tradition that has grown up in Continental Philosophy over the last 40 years, many of which are lost in the transition to a different language When Derrida observed that nous sommes tous des bricoleurs, he was stating a daring new thesis Now, when so much of what is written is hypertext, and works are directly linked together so that a single mouse click can take us to a different book, Derrida s argument is just common sense Try explaining it to a Web literate 15 year old, and see if you can make them understand why anyone would have found it surprising.The rest of this review is available elsewhere the location cannot be given for Goodreads policy reasons If Cultured People Are Expected To Have Read All The Significant Works Of Literature, And Thousands Are 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 In This Delightfully Witty, Provocative Book, A Huge Hit In France That Has Drawn Attention From Critics And Readers Around The World, Literature Professor And Psychoanalyst Pierre Bayard Argues That Not Having Read A Book Need Not Be An Impediment To Having An Interesting Conversation About It In Fact, He Says, In Certain Situations Reading The Book Is The Worst Thing You Could Do Using Examples From Such Writers As Graham Greene, Oscar Wilde, Montaigne, And Umberto Eco, He Describes The Varieties Of Non Reading From Books That You Ve Never Heard Of To Books That You Ve Read And Forgotten And Offers Advice On How To Turn A Sticky Social Situation Into An Occasion For Creative Brilliance 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 A Book For Book Lovers Everywhere To Enjoy, Ponder, And Argue About And Perhaps Even ReadPierre 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 Emigr New York He Has Translated Works By Derrida, Lacan, Blanchot, And Other Authors . This is one of four newish books I recently read mostly so I could finally get them off my queue list, all of which were actually pretty good but are mere wisps of manuscripts, none of them over 150 pages or so in length This one is the surprisingly thoughtful How to Talk About Books You Haven t Read, by a hip French literature professor named Pierre Bayard because make no mistake, this is not exactly a practical how to guide to faking your way through cocktail parties, buta sneaky examination of what it means to read a book anyway, if by read you mean understand, relate to, can recall details of, and can discuss with others After all, if we read a book as a child and then completely forget its story as an adult, do we still get to count that as a read book Bayard gets into all kinds of interesting questions like this, ultimately arguing that the most important thing we can do as readers is understand the entire time period that book is a result of in the goal of accomplishing that, then, he argues that it s perfectly okay to just read the Cliff Notes of famous huge books you know you re never going to get around to actually reading, perfectly okay to discuss a book at a cocktail party you re familiar with but haven t actually sat down and scanned each and every page This is how we learn, he argues, how we grow as both humans and patrons of the arts every Wikipedia entry we read, every conversation we fake our way through, every BBC adaptation we check out, ultimately helps us understand the full length books we do sit and closely read from the beginning to the end, which is why we shouldn t be ashamed of any of these activities but rather proud of them Funny, smart, and very French a very fun afternoon of reading.Out of 10 9.2 . . . This book, which I read in its entirety, is about 25% sensible commentary wrapped in an irritating froth of supercilious bullshit Professor Bayard has a number of observations to make about the whole exercise of reading, some of which are insightful and on point and many of which are bloody obvious The irritating part is that each little nugget is presented with the kind of self congratulatory smugness befitting a Faberge egg But, for the most part, the professor doesn t scintillate nearly as much as he imagines.As other reviewers have noted, the title is misleading Bayard is not interested in providing you with a bluffer s guide Instead, his tongue in cheek advocacy of non reading is used as a point of departure to explore the whole exercise of reading from a variety of perspectives An odd feature of the book is the amount of time spent exhorting us to overcome the feelings of guilt and inadequacy we are assumed to experience because we read so little The assumption seems ill founded and saysabout the author s potential insecurities than anything else So, the book is sporadically witty and makes a number of decent points Why didn t I like itProbably because it is neither as witty or as clever as the author obviously believes it to be. 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 beto this book than I d initially thought.Bayard defintes 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. .