TSS - Lying About Books

Whilst perusing through my friends' facebook pages I came upon this gem of a link: 13 Books Nobody's Read But Say They Have from the Huffington Post. Of course my Internet ears stood at attention and I quickly clicked over to that story. I won't share the list even though it's brief (with pictures) because you should be surprised (?) with each click as I was.

I will share that there are two books on the list that I have read, and dare I say, ENJOYED. But enough of that. The post got me thinking - *gasp* and this is even pre-cup of coffee (I do have my cup now, thank you very much).

Why lie about books that you haven't read?

(Okay, okay, little secret. I've lied myself. IN THE PAST though. I promise. At least intentional lying. I do think that there is a difference if you THOUGHT you read a book because sometimes I do get confused. I also get confused thinking I HAVEN'T read a book only to realize half way through that I did).

But, back to the lying about books you've read but really haven't. In college I felt almost compelled to lie. Let me tell you what, the literature department of any college (me thinks) is the central station for a bunch of pretentious snobs. I should know, I was one. But here's what I didn't really UNDERSTAND back then - IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO READ ALL OF THE BOOKS OUT THERE. But, oh no, if the pretentious snobbish group was discussing Camus and I hadn't read the book I'd know enough Camus to bs my way through the conversation, holding my own, implying or claiming I read what they were debating. (I think I read The Plague while everyone else in the department read The Stranger).

And OF COURSE I have read all of the sonnets by Shakespeare and his plays....btw, can you see my nose growing? Yes, life in the literature department was a doozie. Taking three to four lit courses a semester already put me in the predicament of sleeping, reading, working, reading, sleeping.

As I grew up I slowly realized that there was no way any of us in the lit world had read every single book that we discussed passionately. But we still felt compelled to lie rather than to say, "no, but it sounds interesting...what was it about."

As a reader in my thirties, I have a long list of books I want to read before I bite the big one. (And hopefully it is decades away before that day comes because it really will sadden me not to read half of what I want to in my lifetime). I ADMIT there are PLENTY of classics I have overlooked in my time. Dickens? I've only read two of his books (A Tale of Two Cities and Hard Times). Hemingway? Two and a half (I can't remember if I've read The Old Man and the Sea...I think that I did). I don't feel shameful or lacking any intellect because I haven't read more. I'll get to them. Someday. But intentionally lying about it seems silly.

So what are your thoughts about lying about books?


  1. I've never intentionally lied about books, because I never saw the point of saying I'd read something I hadn't read. I think it was mostly that I knew I'd have to prove it in some way and I couldn't. Now, I HAVE lied about a book sounding interesting when I actually had no interest in it at all, just for purposes of not being the pariah in a conversation. But I considered that good form (didn't want people to think I was saying they had bad taste). :D

    I've read four off the list, and of those four, I only liked one of them (As I Lay Dying, which I loved). Of the other 9, I've never heard of one and I have absolutely no interest in reading the others. In fact, that list could be a complete anti-Amanda list. I did read Melville's Billy Budd and more recently Bartleby the Scrivener, and I hated both. No way I'd ever read Moby Dick. Same with Tolstoy and War & Peace (I've read Anna K and Ivan Ilyach).

  2. I didn't read the list because HuffPo book lists tend towards the hard to believe. I've never lied about reading a book, I think this mostly happens in books.

    But this summer I spent six weeks taking a literature class at Yale with a group of people who were much better read than I am in spite of being 10 years younger on average. I was tempted to bluff, but they would have caught me out in no time.

  3. I have totally lied about reading a book. When my high school English teacher asked me if I finished Red Badge of Courage, I looked her straight in the eye and said Yes, ma'am. Yeah, I got like 50 pages into that book and found it horrible, so I stopped. I've also lied about enjoying books. When, again, a high school teacher asked if I liked Romeo & Juliet, I smiled and said Yes, ma'am. I hated it. I was actually happy when the two died. I'm more a King Lear girl when it comes to Shakespeare.

    I don't think I've ever lied to anyone outside of high school English teachers about books though. I've read a ton of books for one, and for two, I don't really hang out with readers so it doesn't come up often. :)

  4. It was only when I visited my university library and saw a shelf of Franz Kafka novel, in German, that I realized I'd never read all the books in the world.

    A very sad day.

  5. I've read three of the books on that list in their entirety, and parts of two of them. I don't think I really lie about having read books I haven't read, but I do sometimes manage to convey the impression that I have read more by certain authors than I really have read.

  6. I'll confess with you. I felt really intimidated my freshman and sophomore year and lied about books I hadn't read! Now I couldn't bear the thought. I figure there has to be a book I've read that they haven't :)

  7. Amanda - Oh I have definitely lied about a book sounding interesting! That's a whole 'nother post entirely. :P

    CB - I think it's intimidating when a group of people know a book and you don't. But I agree; I'd definitely get caught too.

    Trisha - LOL too funny. And also, you bring up an interesting point...I'm not really in a situation to lie because most of my friends don't read either!

    Readerbuzz - OMG you had my laughing hysterically. Seriously. Best comment EVER! LMAO.

    Jenny - I think sometimes it's just easier to let that assumption slide.

    Jamie - Glad I'm not the only one. :)


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