books we haven’t read

Between a book we’ve read closely and a book we’ve never even heard of, there is a whole range of gradations that deserve our attention. In the case of books we have supposedly read, we must consider just what is meant by reading, a term that can refer to a variety of practices. Conversly, many books that by all appearances we haven’t read exert an influence on us nevertheless, as their reputations spread throughout society. … Non-reading…goes far beyond the act of leaving a book unopened. To varying degrees, books we’ve skimmed, books we’ve heard about, and books we have forgotten also fall into the rich category that is non-reading. -How to talk about books you haven’t read, by Pierre Bayard, p xviii-xix

As I read this, I thought about movies: I talk about a lot of movies that I haven’t seen, including those with the following characteristics

  1. Phrases which have become vernacular
  2. Trailers I have seen
  3. Reviews I have read
  4. Hype I’ve read in Entertainment Weekly
  5. Rotten Tomatoes summaries I have looked at
  6. Content summaries I have looked at (you know, these parental guides, like kids-in-mind.com or screenit.com)

And on and on. I appreciate Bayard’s distinguishing that that are a variety of ways to experience these media (books, movies, etc.), and that each may bring its own influence (and pleasure).

Finally, I can stop reading all those books…

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