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Extended Audio Sample How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read Audiobook, by Pierre Bayard Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,144 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Pierre Bayard Narrator: Grover Gardner Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2007 ISBN: 9781455188963
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In this delightfully tongue-in-cheek book, a #3 bestseller in France, literature professor Bayard contends that, in this age of infinite publication, the truly cultivated person is not the one who has read a book but the one who understands the book’s place in our culture. Using examples from works by Graham Greene, Umberto Eco, and others (and even the movie Groundhog Day), Bayard examines the many kinds of “non-reading” (forgotten books, books discussed by others, books we’ve skimmed briefly) and the many potentially nightmarish situations in which we are called upon to discuss our reading with others.

The book urges everyone who’s ever felt guilty about missing some of the great books to consider what reading means, how we absorb books as a part of ourselves, and why we spend so much time talking about what we have, or haven’t, read.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “It may well be that too many books are published, but by good fortune, not all must be read…A survivor’s guide to life in the chattering classes…evidently much in need.”

    New York Times

  • “Brilliant…A witty and useful piece of literary sociology, designed to bring lasting peace of mind to the scrupulous souls who grow anxious whenever the book-talk around them becomes too specific.”

    London Review of Books

  • “For those in the rising generation who still believe in art, Bayard’s prescription should be read, mused over, laughed through, and surrendered to memory’s fade.”

    National Review

  • “With rare humor, Bayard liberally rethinks the social use [of literature] and the position of the reader…Read or skim How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read. Or simply listen to what people say about it so that you can talk about it with ease. In either case, you may not be able to forget it.”

    Les Inrockuptibles

  • One of the 2007 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Caitlin | 2/13/2014

    " I read this inbetween another - and I found it funny (in a dusty academic way), at times very dull, but with enough fun to make it engaging and in the end, I found that it even managed to hit upon a truth or two. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sidik Fofana | 2/3/2014

    " Six Word Review: Ready to test out this theory. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tracy | 1/26/2014

    " An incredibly intelligent book about why it's ok not to read stuff...seriously, I'm never going to think twice about Ulysses now. Lolita can also kiss my ass. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Sherry Ramsey | 1/19/2014

    " On the whole, I thought this was a silly book. The author makes many, many pronouncements about reading and non-reading that struck me as...well, silly. At first I thought it was an elaborate joke, but as I read on I realized he was serious. But I read it anyway, so that I wouldn't have to talk about it without having read it. ;) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pterodactyl | 1/15/2014

    " This is not really an instruction book, but an attempt to reevaluate how we think about books and reading. Thought provoking, but Bayard's wit keeps it entertaining. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Xiaomin Zu | 12/15/2013

    " My history professors will have a heart attack if they read this book, even though they themselves encourage students to read a book without reading every word of it XD "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristi | 10/3/2013

    " It was much more academic than I expected it to be. The reviews made it sound light-hearted and funny but I did not find it that way. I felt bogged down often because the analysis was over my head. It did have some good ideas though! The thesis was intriguing enough. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jules | 9/30/2013

    " "To the unpracticed eye, of course, the absence of reading may be almost indistinguishable at times from non-reading." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Alex | 8/6/2013

    " cute, similar to 'oneupmanship' but not as clever. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 catechism | 5/22/2013

    " "Our relation to books is a shadowy space haunted by the ghosts of memory, and the real value of books is their ability to conjure these spectres." "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kirsti | 2/11/2013

    " I skimmed it. :-) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sandra | 12/10/2012

    " Interesting premise, and gives permission for skimming, which I sometimes felt badly doing, but doesn't exactly ever endorse reading, which is something I LIKE TO DO "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lisa Jones | 3/13/2012

    " I did not enjoy this book so much as it helped to alleviate my shame at having not read many of the classics. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lydia | 11/3/2011

    " I only read about half of this book. But I don't think Pierre Bayard will mind. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anna | 6/7/2011

    " I liked this book cause it wasn't packed with strongly philosphical stuff. Bayard divides methods of talking about books we haven't read for few groups that makes reading this book easier. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bartelsa | 2/14/2011

    " Really, there is no need to read this book. Like Oscar Wilde, Bayard takes up a ridiculous argument that somehow makes perfect and perverse sense. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul | 2/11/2011

    " In my line of work, this has to be a good thing! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 badger | 2/5/2011

    " Witty and intelligent. The author discusses the concept of "non-reading" which is, as he argues, alomst as important as reading itself. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Trevor | 12/4/2010

    " Not really about how to talk about books you haven't read... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 _topo_ | 11/16/2010

    " Avvincente, stimolante, ipnotico. Devo però dire che non condivido la tesi del sostenuta, cioè che un libro è soprattutto un insieme di relazioni. Per me un libro è prima di ogni altra cosa quello che sta all'interno della copertina, e non all'esterno. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kristin | 11/5/2010

    " I picked up the audio version of this book. The title grabbed me, and I thought I'd love it.
    But I found it rather slow and written like a text book.
    I guess this book is for a serious book reader with a more philosophical taste? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jason | 11/1/2010

    " Anyone who loves books needs to read this. Anyone who fears books needs to read this. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Tracey | 9/1/2010

    " Adult nonfiction. If you are a Lit.Studies major, then this may interest you. If not, skip it--and just continue skimming text, reviews, book jackets like you've been doing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Irina | 8/10/2010

    " You only really need the first chapter. "

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About the Author
Author Pierre Bayard

Pierre 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 Emigré New York. He has translated works by Derrida, Lacan, Blanchot, and other authors.

About the Narrator

Grover Gardner (a.k.a. Tom Parker) is an award-winning narrator with over eight hundred titles to his credit. Named one of the “Best Voices of the Century” and a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine, he has won three prestigious Audie Awards, was chosen Narrator of the Year for 2005 by Publishers Weekly, and has earned more than thirty Earphones Awards.