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Extended Audio Sample How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read, 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:
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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 by 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 by 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 by 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 by 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. ;) "

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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.