Thursday, October 01, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - Would You Lie?

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Two-thirds of Brits have lied about reading books they haven’t. Have you? Why? What book?


Well, not unless you want to count the time I didn't read The Grapes of Wrath in 12th grade English, relying on Cliff's Notes instead to get me through the test or paper or whatever was required to prove that we had actually read it. I didn't get around to The Grapes of Wrath until some twenty years later, despite the fact that Steinbeck was one of my favorite authors in high school and my steadfast refusal not to read this one did not appear to be hinged on any reason other than I was feeling surly and contrary and by God, no one was going to make me do anything I didn't want to do (plus, I'd already been admitted to college through early admssions). And, best I can remember, the not wanting to read Steinbeck period ran concurrently with the period that I was going around telling my friends that if at the end of the year I didn't win the English award, which, by God, everyone knew I deserved, I was going to burn. down. the English building. And, fortunately, this was pre- (by 20 years) instead of post-Columbine, so instead of being turned in to the police and inflicting all sorts of embarrassment on my poor dad who was the chief of the volunteer fire department and would not have appreciated having an arsonist for a daughter and needing, all these years later, to write this response by hand from some sorry prison cell, my friends let me continue to vent obnoxious fumes up unto the point when I won the award and could shut up already with the crazy talk.

They were patient with me that way.

Otherwise, I cannot remember ever lying about reading a book that I haven't.

The flipside of this question is that I was telling my son about David Lodge's game of Humiliation just last night, which devolved into an argument over whether Hamlet is the answer to life, the universe, and everything, but I'll spare you the play-by-play on that since you've already been afflicted with another one of my long-winded stories about high school. Thank you for suffering through it.

Booking Through Thursday


  1. My only instance was one from high school, too. Otherwise, I'm clean.

    I've played the Humiliation game many times at faculty parties. It can be fun and it can be deadly. One of my husband's colleagues did actually get passed by for tenure when he admitted at a cocktail party that he'd never read Middlemarch even though he'd been hired to teach Victorian lit. Sometimes life imitates art. And obviously sometimes it doesn't pay to be too honest.

  2. Oh no! You reminded me that I faked reading Sister Carrie for a college lit class and finally read it only a couple of years ago. Loved it, even though in college I was dead set against it.

    I love Lodge's humiliation game, having just read (and reviewed) Changing Places. So far, I haven't found a bookish crowd to play with me, but now that I read Joy's anecdote, maybe I won't look too hard.

    Thanks for visiting Rose City Reader and leaving a comment. I'm happy to have found your blog.

  3. Great story. And my answer is no (though there are a few that I haven't finished--e.g., Ulysses. Must. Fix. That.)

  4. I would kind of grin and mumble knowingly in uni when people would talk about Heart of Darkness which I haven't read yet.

  5. I'd forgotten about Humiliation! I didn't read Julius Caesar for 11th grade English, got a B on the test, and then made it a point of honor to get a PhD in English literature without ever reading that play. I did it, and then finally last year I went to see a production of it. Sometimes it's just good to have goals, don't you think?

  6. I lied about reading Catch-22 my senior year of high school and wrote an essay based completely on Cliff's Notes. I don't remember anyone paying any attention whatsoever (and I eventually read the book in my 30s and really enjoyed it).

  7. I actually made a comment on another blog about kind of lying about Catch-22. I read about half of it and got a little bored so I never finished it. But have told folks from time to time that I had read it. So funny that it is the same book Lisa Peet lied about.


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