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I (Almost) Read That Book

March 20, 2009

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Have you ever lied about reading a book? Or implied that you had when you hadn’t? A BBC poll revealed that two out of three Britons have lied about reading a book, primarily in order to impress someone.

The most frequently lied-about books were listed in the survey. I suspected that some of these books have not been read because of a common flaw — their length. So I checked Tolstoy’s War and Peace on Amazon.com. The first version listed was 1296 pages, the second was 1424 pages. Interestingly, these editions were only $13.57 and $12.24 respectively (wow, less than 1 cent per page).

Needless to say, no one has read Remembrance of Things Past (A la recherce du temps perdu) by Marcel Proust. In actuality a series of 7 novels, it comes in at a total of 3,424 pages (Vintage). That said, I counted up the total number of pages in Harry Potter, also a series of 7 novels, and it came to 4,100 pages, yet everyone has read it. Maybe length isn’t the problem.

Personally, I’ve only read 3 of the 10 books on the “Liar’s Top Ten List”:  1984 (the most lied about book of all time, probably because it’s often assigned in junior high school), James Joyce’s Ulysses, and the Bible. Then there are 5 books I’ve thought about reading: War and Peace (see above, however), Madame BovaryRemembrance of Things Past (I studied German, not French, and yes, I read Magic Mountain), A Brief History of Time, and Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama. I just bought a copy of Dreams from My Father, in fact, but I haven’t read it yet. Sounds fascinating, though.

The remaining two on the list are Midnight’s Children and The Selfish Gene. I am not going to add them to the list of books I’ve thought about reading, but I will add them to the list of books I’ve looked up on Amazon.

Perhaps next we should ask: What is your favorite opera? I bet we could rack up quite a few little fibs with that question. Mine is La Boheme, of course, although I also enjoy The Ring and the ending to Faust. Here, let me hum a few bars . . . .

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