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Pretend to have read any book
It’s not just you who hasn’t read Pride and Prejudice, and is unsure whether Joyce’s Ulysses is a book or a really posh brand of watch.
A survey published in the Telegraph found that more than half – 62% – of us lie about having read “the classics”. But whether it’s the latest must-read (which you haven’t), or an undying classic of literature, we live in a golden age for lying about books.
In the Telegraph’s survey, 42% of readers watched the TV or film adaptations – a risky strategy, as the next question might well be, “Wasn’t that new film awful?” Which leaves you caught red-handed. Here are five alternatives to get you through any book discussion.
Read a chapter
Much, much better than adaptations are Amazon’s previews of Kindle books – you get about a chapter, and that’s enough to have that crucial one thing to say about it. “Well, I do like it overall, but there’s far too many descriptions of scenery.” Nod sagely at their reply, then you can safely move on to other fields of culture, such as Spongebob.
Sponge off of Goodreads
Goodreads is a goldmine for anyone wishing to save valuable eyeball calories by not reading anything except the internet. Not only do you get a potted summary, the members – bless ‘em – LOVE books, so you can lift their opinions wholesale, and present them as your own.
Good old War and Peace
Prepare a general-purpose book to stop any conversation in its tracks – War and Peace is great for this, as NO ONE ON EARTH has read it. It also covers war, romance, peace, and about 15,000 pages of eyeball strain. Study the Goodreads page, then put a stop to bookish chat with a, “Frankly, I thought War and Peace was the be-all and end-all when it comes to that sort of thing.”
“The novel is dead!”
Pretend that “the novel is dead”, by referring to drug-addicted maniac David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. About a million pages long, and only comprehensible to other drug-addicted maniacs, no human has ever read it. Say that for you, its themes of addiction, privilege and tennis said all the novel COULD say, and you now only read Dilbert.
Books have trailers now. Apparently.
This last trick is one to watch for in future. More and more novelists are making trailers for their books – aimed at Kindles and iPads. Read a synopsis? Pah! Too much effort. A two-minute video will do just fine. If you fear that you’re about to be among people who like new, trendy “literature”, check on Kindle for an effort-free way to endure their yawnsome prattling.