Why Pretend Having Read a Book?!

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Take a look at my To Read List,and you’ll see that I have still many great books to read.I haven’t touched 1984,Catcher in the Rye and Catch 22,all of which are fan favorites; I have only read two Russian books; apart from A Farewell to Arms,I haven’t given a go to Hemingway’s other books.All this to say that it doesn’t do me anything to admit that I haven’t yet read those books which millions of people have before me.

As per my activities in life,I come across a certain girl once or twice every month since October.She is 17 or 18,hence younger than I,and knows me through my former tuition classmates.She doesn’t fancy me any more I do her,but when we happen to meet,she is always the one who’ll start the conversation.She knows I read much,so will start talking about all the books she’s read,most – if not all – of which are young adult books,and according to her,she’s read over 350 of them- an almost unbelievable number,but not unreachable,I thought.Anyhow,it is great to see someone who reads that much.

Also every time she meets me she will enquire about the book I am currently reading.One of my latest meetings with her coincided with the period during which I was still under the spell of Anna Karenina.When I told the girl that it was the last book I read,she looked at me,smiled and said: ” I read it too.I loved it”.But her empty and flickering eyes said otherwise.I looked at her and stayed silent,but my countenance indicated that I wanted to hear more from her.I think she understood that,but kept silent too.

I don’t want to sound snobbish,but it is obvious that someone who has read romantic young adult novels all her life would struggle with Anna Karenina;Tolstoy’s masterpiece is one of the biggest classics in literature,filled with political and agricultural discussions,and showcases a high level of psychological complexity seldom seen in other literary works.Besides,Anna Karenina is the kind of book that leaves an indelible impression of extreme beauty and grandeur on those who’ve loved the book,but I saw nothing in her face that showed she’s read the book,let alone loved it.

You might say that maybe she wasn’t lying and that I cannot deduce pretense in her simply at the sight of her eyes and countenance.Sure.But I remember in October,while I was listing all the classics that I would read in 2014,she claimed to having read The Great Gatsby and watched the 2012 movie version,although,she said,it was not as good as the book.Now in late March,after I told her that I’m on the verge of finishing The Great Gatsby,she looked at me with her natural air,and not with the same as when she said she read Anna Karenina,and declared: ”Hmm,I haven’t read this book yet.I must buy it someday.” I felt like refreshing her memory,but I didn’t want to start a row and be accused of looking down on her,so I stayed quiet and wondered why she pretended having read books she hasn’t,and why she doesn’t get started with the classics.Could it be that she takes her pretense for reality and feels more comfortable with it?


10 thoughts on “Why Pretend Having Read a Book?!”

  1. This is an interesting, yet no uncommon phenomena among people. I have known so many that claimed they have read books,yet really haven’t. On a few occasions I would make reference to a particular instance, character, name or place from a novel that my friend(s) claimed they have read and did not get any reaction, as if it had no meaning to them. If I tell them what I am talking about I am met with empty stares or questions which are indicative of someone who definitely has not read what they have previously claimed to.

    I can sympathize with you. Perhaps they lie because they know its a classic and are ashamed to have no read it, which is actually a good thing, because they recognize its importance rather than being totally ignorant to it. So its a first step, recognizing the classics, the next is that they should put down their pop culture cannon fodder and pick up the classic works.

    Unfortunately. for myself I have yet to read Anna Karenina. I actually do not own it, but I have seen a nice Folio Society copy that I plan on buying. Both that and War & Peace are on my reading list, among MANY more!!! Right now I am working on the works of Cicero, Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. But I am sure that I will eventually get to the Russian classics!

    Cheers my friend!

    1. Once again,as you did on our discussion about Moby Dick,you said everything I thought and took the words right out of my mouth! And oddly enough,we’re both Folio Society members (I surmise you’re a member too)! 😀

      I guess,as you say,I have to see the good side of things and think of her pretense as a way to camouflage her insecurity at not having read classics,which in turn is proof that she does value them!

      Thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂
      And by the way,I own the Folio edition of Anna Karenina and it is definitely worth its somewhat hefty price.The introduction is superb,the illustrations are exquisite and real-like,and while turning the pages,you feel it is one of the greatest books ever! And I,too,am eyeing War&Peace,although it won’t be for now!

      1. Yes I have been a member for over a yer and have been slowly increasing my folio collection (I think I have about 100 folio books now) and they are having an amazing Box Set Sale. The Anna Karenina is absolutely stunning and I think I will pick it up. With regards to War & Peace, I have the Franklin Library leather-bound volume, but the 2 volume Folio set is to die for!!!


  2. Maybe the reason she says she has, is because she wants you to continue to think that she is cool and find her interesting. And if she doesn’t suffer from insecurity, then it might do with the pseudo need to be better than everybody else/you.. Maybe, anyways best of luck with her..:)

    1. Yep,certainly it’s one of the reasons you mentioned,but I really cannot get on with ‘posers’.
      You did well by wishing me luck,as I don’t know till when I’ll keep my mouth shut! Anyway,thanks for reading! 😉

  3. This is an interesting post! In this case though, I’d perhaps defend the young lady because of her age — it’s not like I’m an old wise person myself but I believe teenagers are just too young and too insecure, so they often act in the wrong way. There are hopes she’s grow out of it 😉 P.S. I love that you’re constantly working on your blog as to its design, too, I adore the cartoons you added to the sidebar!

    1. The problem is that in saying that she has read Anna Karenina,she is lumping Tolstoy’s masterpiece together with the other books she’s read.More importantly,she thinks the purpose of reading classics is to gain bragging rights and nothing else! That’s why there’s the risk that she’ll carry on her pretense.

      Anyway,I’m glad you found the post interesting! I am all the gladder to see that you’ve noticed those little cartoons.I think they hold an intelligent humour and I cannot help from smiling whenever I look at them.The first is pretty hilarious; Freud is listening to a beetle – an allusion to Metamorphosis – who dreams he is Kafka. ( a sort of reversal of things).And the second is an allusion to Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.(In the play,Godot never turns up,haha!) I thought I was the only who found them hilarious! 😀

      I’ll try to find more of them,even if they’re quite rare on the net!

      1. Well, you’re right about the point of devaluating Tolstoy, that must be admitted.

        It just occurred to me that literary jokes are hard to understand because of course, to get the allusion, you must know about the book. Something similar happened to me the other day when I alluded to the device called deux ex machina, god from the machine, thinking that it’s clear, but it clearly wasn’t clear.

        Beckett is very famous though, this one should be easy to get! The Metamorphosis joke is a bit harder.

  4. Two reasons really, some people lie because they feel under pressure to look good or impress others, or she secretly has a bit of a crush on you and wants you to think she’s on the same level…

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