Sharing new ideas, resources, knowledge and technology to keep abreast of new development in reference service field

Friday, September 26, 2008

How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read

I'm sure everyone has experienced a time when you've been asked, "Have you read this book?" and either completely drawn a blank or had to admit that, "No, sorry....but I read a great review!" Fear not...French literature professor and psychoanalyst Pierre Bayard has written a book, How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read, which is not so much a how-to-bluff-your-way-through situations such as this, but gives you license to forgo reading every single title that comes across your desk.

Bayard catagorizes our inner library into four distinct groups: books you don't know, books you have skimmed, books you have heard of and books you have forgotten. His premise seems to be that some books are better discussed without actually having been read, and anyone can bluff effectively in most social situations. Not only that, it can be an exceptionally creative exercise. And who remembers every detail from every book you've read? Bayard seems to think the overall impression made by the author is enough.

Being the type of person who feels guilty if I stop reading a book I don't care for and has at least a dozen books checked out at any time, I found Bayard's tongue-in-cheek arguments thought-provoking. I'd be interested to see what other librarians it! Or not. And then we can discuss it.

No comments:

CMRLS Regional Reference Center, Worcester Public Library, 3 Salem Sq, Worcester MA 01608