Pierre Bayard definitely picked an arresting title. That’s probably what he was going for in a book that contains snippets of wisdom like “it is not at all necessary to be familiar with what you’re talking about in order to talk about it accurately.”

I find myself in a bit of a love-hate relationship with this book. On the one hand it’s undeniably true that, in my experience, the more a person reads, the easier it is to read new things or understand new ideas. The context you’ve built up from your previous exposure serves as a foundation that more quickly puts you on your feet in unknown territory. It helps you set up a road map of what to expect. In that regard Bayard’s premise that you don’t have to read things is at least partially true.

The hate part comes from the fact that I actually love reading. What do you mean you can write an article about a masterpiece without reading it? What are you trying to accomplish by not reading it? Your life isn’t better by just knowing what the index says. Read a book once in a while.

That’s why I’m reading a book about not reading books.

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