The Book Confessional

I really like today’s Booking Through Thursday question it looks at Big Book Fibs or Little Literary Lies and asks us if we have ever lied about reading a book that we haven’t. I think there are going to be some brilliant answers from people. There was an article earlier in the year that said that two thirds of British people have lied about reading books they haven’t… I do want to know who they asked, they never asked anyone I know and why is it always the British people that get accused of these things. Sorry, went off on a tangent…

Have I ever lied about a book? When I was in my early twenties and just getting back into reading and meeting other bookish folk I quite possibly told a few porkers about stuff that I read to impress people but that is so far back in the recesses of history that I cannot remember the ins and outs of it.

In the recent past I can only thing of one and that was probably about two years ago (pre-blogging, I couldn’t ever lie about having read a book that I hadn’t on my blog it would just be wrong on so many levels, and one thing regular readers will know is that I am very honest on here) at a book group. Not about the book the group was supposed to be reading, if I don’t like a book or couldn’t finished one I will just come out and say it.

One of the book group members at the time, who did eventually get the boot as you may see why, was bragging about all the classics that he had read and complaining the boo group didn’t read long enough or old enough books to be considered a proper group and was making everyone feel quite inferior, or trying to. So when he said ‘oh and I am sure none of you have managed War & Peace yet?’ with a slightly wry smile. To which of course without thinking I responded ‘oh I have… and I don’t see what all the fuss is about’. This of course got a death stare (and that’s putting it mildly) before being asked if I could back up my opinion. Well once challenged like that I am unlikely to back down and so said “well it was just too much wasn’t it really, too many characters, too many pages and too much War and not enough Peace” I don’t think I got away with it. I did relieve a tense situation though and try and fight back against a “book bully”. I may have to trademark that! Either that or I made myself look a bit of a wally!

So yes I have lied about a book but at least I made it count after all War & Peace is meant to be one of the greatest novels of all time, isn’t it? I am sure I will attempt it one day, just when I have much more time on my hands. Now that I have ‘fessed up it’s your turn… have you ever said you read a book you hadn’t? Also have you ever come into contact with a ‘book bully’?


Filed under Book Thoughts

46 responses to “The Book Confessional

  1. Interesting – do read War and Peace if only to see if you agree with your own words about it. I was very surprised when I read it how much I enjoyed it – yes lots of characters, very long and lots of war – but even though I’m usually bored by battles this book captivated me and even though there are so many pages it is quick reading.

    Oh, I don’t remember saying I’ve read a book when I haven’t – but there are some books I’d say that I might have read but I can’t remember them!

    • My thoughts on the book were not what I actually think of it just to clear that up, it was just what came out of my mouth at the time.

      It’s on my list of books to possibly read before I die, I have never really been that keen on reading it, but one day… maybe.

  2. “too much War and not enough Peace” made me laugh out loud! I think I encountered quite a few of those with a similar superiority complex at university.

  3. Hahaha! Lots of book bullies on my English BA course – ‘oh well of course no one can understand Joyce without a proper knowledge of Foucault’…’oh you haven’t read any Proust? *sigh*’ and other pointless and superior name dropping. Of course most of these annoying people got thirds anyway – too much bragging and not enough reading!

    I have read War and Peace and I found it dull and confusing – everyone had the same name! No lie! Everyone is called Alexander Alexandrovich Somethingov and it is so hard to keep track of who everyone is and who they are to each other. Anna Karenina is better by far! Though of course it depends on your translation – I’d like to try War and Peace again one day with a modern translation rather than the original 19thc one I read.

    A book I’ve lied about reading? Too many to mention! I became an expert at spinning out the blurb on the back of books at university…some weeks I had about four hefty books to read and I didn’t get time to read some of them. I think I have read most books people lie about reading anyway…I read the big classics just so that if they’re a bit crap (Madame Bovary!) at least I can say so with authority!

    • Hahahaha I love that “everyone is called Alexander Alexandrovich Somethingov” tahts really tickled me! I started reading Anna Karenina back at Christmas which I knew I would adore because its tragic and has a brilliant female lead… however I am still on page 380 and have been since January the endless descriptions of fields of this that and the other just make me drowsy!

      Oh no don’t say Madame Bovary isnt good, I ahve always thought I would love that eeek!

      • Schatzi

        Madame Bovary is in no way, no how crap. It;s effing stunning, perfection in prose.

        I hated it the first time I read it, when I was twelve. I thought Emma was a stupid twat. I read it again at twenty-five, and was astonished at its beauty.

  4. Great question! I don’t think I’ve ever lied about reading a book. I’m more likely to pretend I haven’t read something when one of my non-book reading friends is teasing me about having read every book on the bookshop display!

    If you’re looking for book bullies head over to the Guardian book blog. I once made the mistake of commenting over there and had a few unsavoury characters follow me back to my blog. I avoid that site now. I like to keep things friendly!

    • Interesting you have found taht with the Guardian book blog, I ahve always found it quite friendly… but then if you put things out there some loser will say something negative and mean spirited as we have discussed on our blogs before.

      As for book shop displays… myself and Novel Insights often compete (in a very giggly friendly way) as to who has read the most on the book displays. We often draw!

  5. Schatzi

    Hanging out with hipsters or college students will force you into those sorts of braggadocio contests, fortunately, I’ve outread most people already! It was just in case of such a moment that I read W&P when I was younger, which might make me worse, having read it just to brag.

    • Hahahaha, least you are honest though. As I mentioned to Jackie myself and the lovely Novel Insights do ahve a evry (silly and friendly) game of “who’s read more” on book shop displays, we just end up laughing hysterically in the middle of book aisles, so there can be good safe book bragging to be had!

  6. Haha, you’re response was funny! I haven’t lied about reading a novel but, like Rachel, sometimes the Uni reading load was too heavy to read x amount of books a week so I would sometimes bluff my way through a seminar; I found out that I am quite a good bluffer (never play poker with me!)

    • Book Bluffers, Book Braggers and Book Bullies, we are creating a whole range of names for the book community! Ha!

      • Well, I’m dyin’ here! I’ve also just decided to add three new tags to my posts: Book Bluffers, Book Braggers and Book Bullies. Hmm, wonder how many varieties we’d find if we scoured the web? =)

  7. You are so cute. Yeah, if you are going to lie, then lie big! And it doesn’t get any bigger than that one! For the life of me, I can’t remember lying about reading a book, but may perhaps have lied by omission. Like some has said to me, “I’m sure you’ve read such and such, didn’t you just love it?” And I never contradict them. I can’t come up with a specific example, though, so I’m not thinking it happens often!

    • Hahahaha I like the clause “I may have lied by omission” I may have to use that in the future. I can only remember that specific one but we are talking years ago and the person in question infuriated me that much its never been forgotten.

  8. novelinsights

    Oh I think that’s justified. Do you think you’ll get round to reading it though?

  9. justabookreader

    That’s a great post! War & Peace, I have to say, is a good one to lie about but a tough one to get out of. 🙂

  10. Hehe, that’s hilarious. I haven’t remembered WP but I shall remember your response should I ever need to lie about it. I once lied to my Mum about having read Oliver Twist. I’m not sure why. I’ve still not read it, but I’ve seen the musical…

  11. Haha, maybe what you need is War and Peace the musical!

    • Hahahaha I wonder how that could work, it could be a huge success you should trademark that one Verity. I have lied about lending a book to my mum. She bought me one once I swiftly gave away. Thank goodness she doesn’t read this!!! Well I don’t think she does!

  12. I haven’t lied/fibbed about reading anything that I haven’t, but I just stopped by to say that IMHO War & Peace really, truly is worth the time it takes to wade through it. It’s really good!


  13. hahaha I enjoy reading your post.

    I only lied on school assignment…and I wish I met a book bully!! I like bullying a bully 😉

  14. I have slightly lied about reading Joyce – not because I like him, but because I don’t, and I want to have a good excuse for not reading Ulysses. 😛 I read a few of his stories from The Dubliners and now claim I have read it in toto. My friend Lauren worships Joyce and is constantly pestering me to read him, and I really don’t want to.

    Actually, I think that’s my main reading lies strategy – pretending a greater familiarity with authors I don’t like than I actually have, so that nobody can try to insist I read them.

  15. I love that it turned out to be an obvious lie and diffused tension. I have lied about Catch-22. I finished most of it, but not all of that but I never mention that tiny little detail when talking about how much I dislike the book.

  16. I laughed at ‘too much War and not enough Peace.’ Too funny! This little fib was definitely justified, especially by how you backed it up.

    I may have lied about finishing books I partially read (or at least don’t remember reading) in High School…

  17. ted

    Make it count is the only rule! Ha-ha.

  18. I liked that War & Peace story. Quite funny, I must say. I did manage to read it but if anyone asked me anything about I wouldn’t be able to give coherent answers because I don’t remember a thing. Yours was at least funny.

    Anyway, I don’t lie about it and I don’t remember ever having done that. As far as the ‘book bully’ goes, I don’t think I ever encountered one either. But I also don’t really give a d%$n about impressing others so it’s quite possible i just never noticed one.

  19. I don’t think I’ve ever lied about a book, as far as I can remember… not deliberately, anyway. For a while I convinced myself that I’d read Lord of the Flies when in fact, I later realised, I haven’t…
    People so often assume that I’m going to be snobby about books that I go out of my way to admit to books that I haven’t read, or dreadful ones which I have read (High School Musical: The Book of the Film, anyone?)

    • I love that Simon, the fact you weer sure you had read a book. I get some of the books I read at school mixed up. I always tell people I read Remains of the Day and then realise it was A Room With A View.

  20. I have run into book snobs who seem to think only classics or literary books are worth reading. I like those books. But I like romance, love science fiction and pretty much everything else. I also refuse to look down on someone who only reads romance or best sellers or what ever. I do look down a smidge on people who never read anything. I’m open minded, but I girl has to have her limits.

  21. Andreea

    I haven’t read War and Peace, but I have seen the movie:)

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