How to Talk about Books You Haven't Read
Publication Date: October 30, 2007
List Price: $19.95*
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The runaway French bestseller hailed by the New York Times as "a survivor's guide to life in the chattering classes." If civilized people are expected to have read all important works of literature, and thousands more books are published every year, what are we supposed to do in those awkward social situations in which 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 around the world, literature professor and psychoanalyst Pierre Bayard argues that it's actually more important to know a book's role in our collective library than its details. Using examples from such writers as Graham Greene, Oscar Wilde, Montaigne, and Umberto Eco, and even the movie Groundhog Day, he describes the many varieties of "non-reading" and the horribly sticky social situations that might confront us, and then offers his advice on what to do. 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 the book that readers everywhere will be talking about--and despite themselves, reading--this holiday season.
Jeffrey Mehlman is University Professor at Boston University and the author, most recently, of Walter Benjamin for Children: An Essay on His Radio Years and Genealogies of the Text: Literature, Psychoanalysis, and Politics in Modern France.