Art And Culture

How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

How to Talk About Books You Haven’t ReadHow to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read

French literature professor and psychoanalyst Pierre Bayard’s book ‘How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read,’ is now available in Persian.

The French bestseller originally published in 2007, has been converted into Persian by translators Mohammad Memarian and Mina Mazrae-Farahani. The Persian edition was recently released by Tarjomaan Publication, according to the website of Book City Institute (

Since its establishment two years ago, Tarjomaan has released a number of notable books. With its controversial title ‘How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read,’ the book has attracted a wide range of readers.

“Because I teach literature at the university, there is, in fact, no way to avoid commenting on books that most of the time I haven’t even opened,” Bayard, 63, told the Guardian a year after it was published.

Despite society’s devotion to reading, Bayard says, “we are most of us literary heathens, even among the literati. Why waste time reading Joyce and Proust when you can talk about them, or skim the work of others? Taking it as given that no one actually reads for the pleasure of the process,” he argues.

Bayard invokes French philosopher, essayist and poet Paul Valery (1871-1945), ‘that master of non-reading’ who, rather like Irish playwright, novelist and poet Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), depends “neither on the author nor the text.”

Readers must be creative, for to read is to interpret which is also, by necessity, to write. Just as French novelist Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) once wrote a book ‘about nothing,’ so, too, should the ‘true reader’ be able to opine about nothing. Excessive reading, for Valery, “stripped France of its individuality.”

The delightfully witty, provocative book has drawn huge attention from critics around the world. Bayard argues that it’s actually more important to know a book’s role in our collective library than its details. Using examples from such writers as Graham Greene, Wilde, Montaigne, and Umberto Eco, and even the movie Groundhog Day, he describes the many varieties of “non-reading” and the horribly sticky social situations that might confront us, and then offers his advice on what to do.

Practical, funny, and thought-provoking, the book offers a whole new perspective on how we read books and absorb them.


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