This article in today’s Guardian got me thinking about why anyone would lie about having read a specific book. I have always been able to understand people who pretend to not have read a book. After all, it’s easy to get the wrong idea about someone who admits they have read Mein Kampf or the works of the Marquis de Sade. But when I started thinking about it, I realised that of course some people would get the wrong idea if someone were to admit they haven’t read works which are required reading among students of English literature and culturally required reading in English-speaking countries. I am of course referring to books like Animal Farm, Hamlet or Jane Eyre.
But why pretend to have read books like Ulysses or War and Peace which are not required reading except in specialised university courses?
Is it perhaps a simple wish to seem well read, or an attempt to seem somehow “better” than those around one that have not read those books?
I would be interested to hear what you think. (And if you can give me a link to the full results of the survey mentioned in the article, I’d appreciate it).