Monday, December 22, 2008

"Of course, I've Read that Book!" or Readers Lie

Shocking news last week!

pinocchio According to a BBC poll 46% of men and 33% of women admit to lying about what they have read. In other words about 40% of the population would rather impress you than tell the truth about their reading habits.

Seems men want to appear intellectual or romantic and women want to make a good first impression.  Men are impressed by women who read news sites and women are impressed by men who read Shakespeare.  Hmmmm!

Of course this brings up a question for me.  What do you do about those books that you just can't make your self finish?  You know, the ones you bought, read the first (and possibly the last chapter) and then quit.  Does that count as having read it?

This is my dilemma:  Is it necessary to read every word of a book to consider it read?  Does skimming count?

Did I really read A Thousand Splendid SunsI read the first three chapters, skimmed the middle and read the last chapter. . . I wanted to read it; but somehow I just couldn't make myself do it. My mind kept wandering.

Does it count that I picked up The Forgotten Man and after a couple of chapters found it too depressing to keep going on?

I mean, I really wanted to like My Jesus YearBut unfortunately Benyamin Cohen is no A. J. Jacobs. And no matter how much I would like it to be, My Jesus Year is no substitute for The Year of Living Biblically.  I actually made it about half way through; did I read it?

Then of course there is the problem of memory.  As a life long prodigious reader, I would be hard put tell you exactly what I have read or not read.

And finally, there is the movie adaptation thing. . . Did I read The Hours or do I just remember the movie?  Actually this is one I know.  I read the first couple of chapters and threw the book in the trash in disgust.  Turns out, however, that I loved the movie.  Can I say I read it?

No matter how you answer these questions, the fact remains that the desire to look good will always trump the thirst for knowledge.  Always has, always will.  And not all books or writers are equal.  For every great best seller there is one that is "literary" and boring. And face it, some books make better movies than books.

And -- just so you know -- I almost never write reviews of books I haven't read.

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