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

(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.

Author David Foster Wallace reads selections of his writing during the New Yorker Magazine Festival in New York September 27, 2002.
Author David Foster Wallace reads selections of his writing during the New Yorker Magazine Festival in New York September 27, 2002.   (Getty Images)
Author Jonathan Franzen speaks on stage during The 2011 New Yorker Festival: Jonathan Franzen talks with David Remnick at Acura at SIR Stage37 on October 1, 2011 in New York City.
Author Jonathan Franzen speaks on stage during The 2011 New Yorker Festival: Jonathan Franzen talks with David Remnick at Acura at SIR Stage37 on October 1, 2011 in New York City.   (Getty Images)
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