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Why We Lie About
Reading Great Books

Atlantic, by Arit John

Original Article

Posted By:StormCnter, 9/7/2013 5:47:09 AM

More than 60 percent of people pretend to have read books they haven´t, according to a recent survey. And based on what we´ve learned in the past, we all lie about reading the same books over and over, for a number of reasons. For instance, 26 percent of the Brits polled in this most recent survey fibbed about reading George Orwell´s 1984. And last year, when a few New York Times staffers wrote up a confessional post, two more people admitted to never having read Orwell´s most famous work. “Actually, I’m sort of convinced that most people who reference this


Post Reply  

Reply 1 - Posted by: Rather Read, 9/7/2013 5:57:22 AM     (No. 9509646)

Good article. I´ve read my share of Great Books and some I have started but quit. Life is too short to get lost in Henry James´s long sentences.

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Reply 2 - Posted by: littleorby, 9/7/2013 6:24:41 AM     (No. 9509668)

I´m guilty of doing that.

Early on, after Obama was elected for his first term, I remember, for a short time, a series of articles in the MSM discussed the books read by Obama. I doubted then, and still do, that he read/reads at all.

I think it´s more likely he, rather than reading, spent his time in front of a TV smoking pot, and watched cartoons or listened to the tripe dispensed by his communist mentors, when he wasn´t riding around ´chooming´ with his friends.

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Reply 3 - Posted by: provide, 9/7/2013 6:36:02 AM     (No. 9509676)

That´s why Cliff Notes were written.

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Reply 4 - Posted by: Gordon Mills, 9/7/2013 6:36:44 AM     (No. 9509678)

You can either read a book or spend the time on Lucianne.Com, Drudge Report, or other serious websites informing yourself on what is happening to our way of life.

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Reply 5 - Posted by: StormCnter, 9/7/2013 7:07:07 AM     (No. 9509700)

Aw, #4, L-Dotters are multi-taskers. We can read books and Lucianne.com. too. But, maybe not "1984" or "War and Peace".

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Reply 6 - Posted by: kanphil, 9/7/2013 7:10:44 AM     (No. 9509702)

I had a High School teacher who assigned some of these books and made us write a book report on them. "Crime and Punishment" damned near killed me, but I got through it. And lo, these many years later, I am glad that I did.

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Reply 7 - Posted by: globalwarmer, 9/7/2013 8:01:41 AM     (No. 9509765)

I´m reading a great book right now -
The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic by Mark R. Levin. Can´t put it down.

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Reply 8 - Posted by: Sanspeur, 9/7/2013 9:15:28 AM     (No. 9509888)

Sometimes the books are not "great" , merely wonderful props of academia.. Foisted upon us poor schlubs by the same "folks" who snookered us with Zero , the warmonger. And have you noticed most of the works end up badly . With little redemption? Life sucks and then you die is the usual plot..

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Reply 9 - Posted by: thelmalou, 9/7/2013 9:19:46 AM     (No. 9509896)

I´ve never read a lot of the so-called greats, and i don´t mind admitting it. I can´t figure out why a lot of the so-called greats are great.

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Reply 10 - Posted by: StormCnter, 9/7/2013 9:24:27 AM     (No. 9509908)

I read and enjoyed "Jane Eyre" and "Wuthering Heights", but I really, really tried to read "Tom Jones" and failed after about 25%.

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Reply 11 - Posted by: TunnelRat, 9/7/2013 9:35:53 AM     (No. 9509933)

I´ve read "Tom Jones", and "Moby Dick", and "War and Peace", and a whole bunch of other lo-o-o-o-ong books. It´s not that I am a pseudo-intellectual, rather that the traffic lights in Toledo are so damned long that the whole city is in danger of becoming well-read.

It´s not unusual to see someone working their way through "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" while waiting for the light to change. The family drove to Cleveland one time and all the kids complained they hardly had time to get their books out before the light changed.

[Oh, BTW, the reason "We" lie about reading great books is that the Atlantic is written by and for leftists, who lie about pretty much anything anyhow]

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Reply 12 - Posted by: altoona, 9/7/2013 9:39:38 AM     (No. 9509941)

"War and Peace" is worth the time, but then I had a lot more time when I was 20.

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Reply 13 - Posted by: Susannah, 9/7/2013 9:41:45 AM     (No. 9509943)

#9, in a lot of instances, it´s because they´re historical and cultural markers that embody something important about the age they represent. The novel came into existence because middle class people wanted to read about their own lives.

It´s certainly true that a lot of stuff written in the past fifty years that passes itself off as "literature" is, in fact, dreck; obscurantist junk that pretends to be art because it´s impossible to read.

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Reply 14 - Posted by: NorthernDog, 9/7/2013 9:59:03 AM     (No. 9509973)

I´d rather read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or Treasure Island than most of the supposed ´great books´. Enjoyable adventures with a some life lessons mixed in.

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Reply 15 - Posted by: save America, 9/7/2013 10:03:34 AM     (No. 9509978)

I´m sure that the 1200 page monster,"Atlas Shrugged"is in the lied about category.

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Reply 16 - Posted by: cheeflo, 9/7/2013 11:53:02 AM     (No. 9510127)

I dunno, #15. I couldn´t put it down and have re-read it many times over the years, although its length did intimidate me before I started it. The book is widely despised by the bien-pensant, so it doesn´t strike me as a book that a lot of people lie about reading.

On the other hand, some people I know do say that they read it when they were younger, but that they´ve "outgrown" it, so maybe you´re right. People start it and never finish. And, they don´t get it, either.

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Reply 17 - Posted by: stjohnswood, 9/7/2013 12:00:03 PM     (No. 9510138)

My daughter is convinced James Joyce was having a stroke when he was writing Finnegan´s Wake, and the whole of the book is the result of that stroke going untreated.

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Reply 18 - Posted by: geneinnyc, 9/7/2013 1:45:18 PM     (No. 9510257)

I suspect that most people, like me, read mostly the books assigned to us by our English teachers and college literature professors and maybe just a few great books after leaving school.

Often, I´ll read "about" particular great books, using various sources on the Internet and the ever-reliable Cliff´s Notes, to quickly get the gist of plot, theme, etc., so that I am at least familiar with the "books that everyone should know."

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Reply 19 - Posted by: KTWO, 9/7/2013 4:25:57 PM     (No. 9510428)

I´ve read some, abandoned some, skipped some. It isn´t important but lying about it makes no sense even though such lies pose no risk.

Sometimes the books are just too long or the worded too dated.

I recommend using a comic book adaptation if one is available. It is foolish to pretend that only the original format, a text, is valid.

Better yet, use both a comic and the original in parallel. It will reduce total time and increase comprehension.

Follow up with a free lecture on the internet. That extra hour will be worth it. For one thing, you will learn some lecturers are full of it.

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Reply 20 - Posted by: StormCnter, 9/7/2013 4:35:02 PM     (No. 9510436)

One final post. #19´s recommendation of reading the comic book version instead reminded me of Texas elementary students during the 30s, 40s and early 50s getting Texas history from a small comic called Texas History Movies. The little book had been a giveaway from Magnolia Oil (later Mobil), but we kids loved it and the schools promoted it. The Mexicans all wore big sombreros and serapes, the heroes (Sam Houston, etc) were tall, straight and handsome. Very politically incorrect, but the history was fairly accurate.

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Reply 21 - Posted by: Hazymac, 9/7/2013 4:53:03 PM     (No. 9510469)

Normal routine is for me to alternate between three books at a time: one entertainment, one classic, one history or biography. For instance, at the moment I am reading Vince Flynn´s Transfer of Power, Faulkner´s Absalom, Absalom (for the fourth time), and Robert Platshorn´s Black Tuna Diaries. Next month it might be something by Frederic Forsyth, Dostoyevsky´s The Brothers Karamazov (which might be the greatest novel ever written), and James I. Robertson´s biography of Stonewall Jackson.

I do appreciate some--but not all--difficult novels, and one of the major enjoyments is experiencing the writing styles of disparate geniuses. There are a few books I´ve put down permanently after slogging through one hundred or so pages and finding the effort to be a waste of my time, e.g., Finnegan´s Wake, which is like a gigantic puzzle, or maybe Joyce´s cosmic joke.

But classics get that way because they´re the best that the minds of mankind have produced. Joyce´s novella, The Dead, the last story in Dubliners, is a magnificent piece of work. Before I die, I hope to read through all of Shakespeare´s plays five or more times again, all of the canons of Hemingway, Faulkner, and Dostoyevsky, and wintess for myself anything new that could fairly be called great. I´d also like to read through the Bible a few more times. (My first total immersion in Scripture was the best thing I´ve ever done for myself.)

What I have been carrying on all my life is a love affair with the language. Words, chosen wisely, can be so inspiring. And if you read worthy things, your own words tend to improve.

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Reply 22 - Posted by: BigGeorgeTX, 9/7/2013 4:54:51 PM     (No. 9510471)

I must admit to having read the Cliff Notes on some of the classics in school, but I did get around to reading them eventually. There´s something about Tolstoy, or any novel consisting of 800+ pages, that intimidates a teen.

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Reply 23 - Posted by: Verdantheart, 9/7/2013 5:04:51 PM     (No. 9510488)

Go directly to Hemingway and Fitzgerald, and you´ll ´get´ modern America. Great storytelling.

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Reply 24 - Posted by: Rakasha, 9/7/2013 6:09:07 PM     (No. 9510579)

#14, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea and Treasure Island ARE great books. My collection includes almost everything written by Kipling, two tomes titled The Complete Works of O´Henry, everything written by Lewis Carroll, and others that were never assigned in school.

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