Books We Pretend to Read—But Never Do
The Corrections, Infinite Jest make the New York Times list
By Neal Colgrass, Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2012 4:40 PM CDT
Author David Foster Wallace reads selections of his writing during the New Yorker Magazine Festival in New York September 27, 2002.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – So, you've read The Corrections? And Infinite Jest? Yes, me too. And the entire Newser staff also likes them. Because there are certain books we simply lie about, as the New York Times learned during a survey of its own staff. Posted anonymously, the Times list includes:

  • A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole. “I couldn’t finish it," admits one Times staffer, "but I have left that detail out in certain conversations.”

  • Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace. A Times staffer admits to worrying that "I wouldn't find it as funny as everyone else does."
  • 1984, George Orwell. Two on the staff admit they have dodged Orwell's classic dystopian novel. “I think I know the gist ... enough that I feel like I can pick up on the references, so why bother actually reading it?”
  • The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen. "I have said in a knowing, pompous tone, 'That is so Corrections.’ But I’ve never actually opened the book and read the words that are in The Corrections.”
Click for the full list. Or see what inspired it, a Female First list of books that Brits pretend to have read. And yes, Jane Austen is at the top.

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Showing 3 of 55 comments
May 14, 2012 5:25 AM CDT
I never read any of those books and I don't claim to have read them. I do think there are books that are sufficiently important that everyone should read them. 1984 is one. Brave New World is another. So is Catch-22. But then again they don't teach reading or things like critical thinking in schools any more.
May 13, 2012 2:03 PM CDT
What? A Confederacy of Dunces was excellent! It's surprising that a NYT staffer wouldn't appreciate it. Don't let that comment dissuade you from reading it, it is a great read. Toole's own story is equally compelling.
May 13, 2012 12:49 PM CDT
Read "The Little Red Lighthouse" from cover to cover, in its original...twice,so there.Couldn't finish "The Little Engine that Could."