Saw this article (from March) and thought it would make a good BTT confessional question: Two-thirds of Brits have lied about reading books they haven’t. Have you? Why? What book?
Seriously? Why in the world would you lie about reading a book when you could actually read the book and learn something? 😉
This is a sticky issue for me for several reasons. For one, an unread book is a challenge and means that I will be adding it to the “books I’d like to read someday” list (it’s a long list). Another reason I have issues with this is the fact that people are more concerned about appearances than substance. Does pretending to read Ulysses by James Joyce really make you appear more intelligent? Considering that this type of lie is fairly easy to expose, why take chances of appearing like a pretentious fake? Is it so important to your career, to your friends, that you have to take this type of risk? I don’t understand this type of reasoning.
In looking at the list, I was amazed and saddened by what people lied about reading too. Why are so many people afraid of classics or biographies to the point where they have to lie about reading them? My favorite books are classics. They are classics for a reason, meaning that there is some element of the story which continues to hold true as decades, even centuries, pass. They are studies of human nature and have earned the right to be called a classic. As for biographies, sometimes they are more interesting than any piece of fiction, for people have lived extremely varied and fascinating lives that deserve to be studied. To pretend to have read either one genre is disheartening, in my opinion, and states volumes about a person who does so.
So, I have not lied about having read a book. I like reading too much to do so. I’m curious if I am in the minority though. Two-thirds is a large number. This gets me back to my original question – why? Why is it so important to pretend you’ve read Stephen Hawkings’ book or Madame Bovary? Would someone please explain it to me?
Sarbear – The fear of what others think…isn't it amazing the lengths that people will go out of fear of what others think?
Tina – I think a lot of people forgo classics because of their nature. The fear of not understanding or not liking them is enough to get people to avoid them. Classics, though, are like any other book – some will like them and others will not. The only difference is that they've been around for a long time and subsequently more people have had a chance to read them.
I agree with Laurel – even if I've read it, I'm afraid to say I have if I've forgotten the details of it.
It seems to me that people would lie about the classics — they might say they've read them bc they think everyone else has, and they should have, but in actuality, very few of them have read them…
I am sometimes intimidated by classics because I know they have been judged as good. If I don't like them, or worse, don't understand, it is possible the lack is on my end. I like to feel smart, even if I don't care about impressing anyone else
If I don't like a book, I chuck it out. Lie about it, no!
Booking Through Lies
Thanks, everyone, for your comments. It's an intriguing idea and has definitely given me food for thought.
I wouldn't say that I've read a book if I haven't…actually, I have the opposite problem. I am sometimes afraid to say that I've read a book that I have read if I can't remember very much about it…that happens to me sometimes, with books I read in high school, for example. A long time ago for me! LOL
Stephanie – I personally feel it's okay to say that you couldn't get into X book or Y author. Reading is so personal, and what works for one will not work for another. Be loud and be proud about what you read and what you don't read because not only will it make you feel more empowered, it should foster more discussions about books. And in the end, isn't that what we all want?
I read that article and I'm with you. Why lie?? Just pick it up. How bad can it be?? Ok, I say that knowing that Sons & Lovers was probably on the list. Ugh. Hated that one. But read it I did!! Of course, I would like say I read Henry James, but couldn't get past the first two chapters of Wings of the Dove!!
jlshall – Can I ask why you lied about reading that book? If it was in high school, is that because you had to lie in order to pass the class? I'm curious. I agree with reading to impress. It's not something I do either. I read to read, whether it is Tolstoy or Stephenie Meyer or Nora Roberts' latest. I read because it makes me happy – nothing more, nothing less. But why the pressure to either read to impress or lie to impress? What is it about reading books that makes people feel that they need to do either?
Have to confess I'm guilty of lying about reading a book I hadn't actually read. But I had to go all the way back to high school to come up with one. I agree – reading to impress is really pointless, and almost as bad as not reading at all.