Books on Monday: How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

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Pierre Bayard’s book sounds, at least from the title, like a cute gimmick, but it turns out to be a deep book, one that, if you read it quietly, will change your idea of what it means ”to read a book” — and demonstrate the large roles played by imagination and oblivion in “remembering” what you’ve read.  It’s fancy and it’s French, but it is as lucid and readily comprehensible as a Stop sign.

As in, “Stop worrying about all those books you haven’t read!”  

How to Talk About You Haven’t Read.

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One Response to “Books on Monday: How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

  1. Yvonne says:

    Thanks for this podcast. I look forward to reading the book.

    Does Bayard mention the book _U and I_? I love this glimpse into the workings of Nicholson Baker’s bright, creative mind. And what audacity: Imagine undertaking an essay about a living author whom you greatly admire–without first catching up on any of his books you had not read, nor even reviewing those you had…!

    And Bayard would applaud NB’s humility, yes? Often Baker dredges up from memory some passage of Updike’s writing, offering it as evidence of whatever point he is making about Updike; but immediately after, he provides a bracketed correction: the passage he used as evidence, it turns out, had been wildly misremembered. More than once he realizes that a phrase or sentence he’d “quoted” from memory must have been a whole-cloth invention of his own mind. That’s funny, and touching–we relate!–and, I think, it’s brave of such a brainy guy to put his embarrassing mistakes on display for us. After one major bungle and subsequent correction Baker asks plaintively, _”What is wrong with me!?”_

    (At least, that’s how I remember it…!)

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