Pierre Bayard’s 2007 book How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read is a real page turner.
The best I can tell, it’s an elaborate joke in which the authorial voice is a kind of fictional character. This character –I’ll call him Bayard while remaining agnostic about how he relates to the historical Bayard who actually authored the book– is utterly devoted to non-reading, and is impenitent about combining so much talking about books with so much non-reading of books.
There are some wonderful passages throughout the book, and even the Table of Contents is funny: Ways of Not Reading, Not Being Ashamed, Imposing Your Ideas, etc. But my favorite page comes very early, before the Preface, even. It’s a List of Abbreviations that includes, along with the obligatory Op. cit. and Ibid, these charming notations:
UB book unknown to me
SB book I have skimmed
HB book I have heard about
FB book I have forgotten
++ extremely positive opinion
+ positive opinion
– negative opinion
— extremely negative opinion
That’s good stuff, but it really pays off when Bayard starts using these abbreviations in the course of the book. For example, on p. 16, he observes
In his posthumously published book Against Sainte-Beuve, Proust advanced the theory that a literary work is the product of a different self from the person we know; in A la recherche de temps perdu, he illustrated this theory through the character of Bergotte.
And the footnotes dutifully record Bayard’s interaction with the two texts: HB+ and HB++, respectively. It’s a breathtaking kind of honesty. Imagine if all authors had to make some notation of the actual depth of their familiarity with every book they referred to! Later he shows that he can say intelligent things about Joyce’s Ulysses (HB++), such as its relationship to Homer’s Odyssey (SB and HB++).
Bayard uses enough irony and playfulness to throw anybody off track. Some of the heavier sentences sound like they could have come straight from serious practitioners of postmodern literary theory. For example,
Reading is first and foremost non-reading. Even in the case of the most passionate lifelong readers, the act of picking up and opening a book masks the countergesture that occurs at the same time: the involuntary act of not picking up and not opening all the other books in the universe.
or “the interior of the book is less important than its exterior, or, if you prefer, the interior of the book is its exterior, since what counts in a book is the books alongside it.” One almost (note quite –just almost) feels sorry for the poor graduate student who inevitably misses the joke and hangs a whole dissertation on this bold new non-literary non-theory.
How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read is great fun, and is certainly a playful trickster of a text, but I don’t want to suggest that it’s nothing more than a prank. Bayard does actually shed a lot of light on the vast amounts of non-reading that surround and inform our reading. One of my routine academic practices is to read catalogs and reviews of books I will not read (the whole point is to see which ones I ought to read), but will continue to have some sort of opinion about. I even tell people about the existence of books I haven’t read, and they go read them and thank me for the “recommendation.” Surely some significant knowledge exchange occurs in this non-reading. In fact, I have often gone through the work of reading an entire book in my academic field, writing a careful review of it for publication, and then noticing that nearly everything I wrote in the review, especially the main value judgments about the book, were things I knew within ten minutes of first touching the book. Bayard, though puckishly disclaiming any intent to help, does surface some interesting points about the many ways readers talk about books they haven’t read. Perhaps the most alarming is the chapter on Books You Have Forgotten, “in which, along with Montaigne, we raise the question of whether a book you have read and completely forgotten, and which you have even forgotten you have read, is still a book you have read.” This chapter threatens to throw the whole library of books we have read over into the larger library of books we haven’t read, since a little meditation on forgetfulness shows that “saying we have read a book becomes essentially a form of metonymy,” and “when it comes to books, we never read more than a portion of greater or lesser length, and that portion is, in the longer or shorter term, condemned to disappear.”
Heady stuff! At least I think it’s heady stuff. I have to admit that I borrowed the book via inter-library loan, and it’s due back today, so I’m returning it SB++. Feel free to share this post about it HB+, if you like.
Are you the one who is always confused when it comes to writing a book report? This task requires a tangible piece of time. Two in one – book reading and essay writing – sounds dreadfully? This is when you surely open the search line in your browser and look for the most effective answer and a proved tip on ‘How to write essay on book I didn’t read’.
If you are some sort of a procrastinator – that as sure as fate doubles your challenge. Probably there is a little time left for this not-as-simple-as-you-desire task. We will spill some proved tips gathered in one place to help you with writing an essay on a book you haven’t read within several hours and get your A.
So here you are. Let’s take four or five hours to read all the necessary stuff. This amount of time should be enough. Mind that it, of course, depends on the lengths of the book you need to study and your own speed of reading. So be conscious, take all your passion in your hand, wake up the inspiration deep within and go ahead.
But first, let’s think over.
Is it a good idea to look for the similar works in the Internet?
As they say, if you do not know what to do – ask your pocket library, namely search engine. It is more than 50% likely that other people have already written their essays on the same or a similar topic. But be conscious. Do not give in to temptation of a plagiarism! Instead, follow the others’ example and use them only for the inspiration. Though, it’s up to you anyway.
So let’s get to the point and check out our tips on how to write a book report yourself, quickly and at your best.
The count has started.
Go through the book briefly, but scrupulously
You probably want to make the things easier and read the first and the final chapter to get some sense of a story? To understand the whole idea you need to take a look at more pages. We recommend that you read the first paragraphs of each chapter of your book.
Depending on paragraphs’ lengths, it can take you from two hours to learn all the chapters briefly. This is the crucial rule you have to follow for writing an essay on a book you didn’t read, which is much shorter and faster than reading the whole book.
Let’s assume, the approximate number of pages is 300 (plus-minus several dozens of pages) with 15 chapters, relatively. Reading the first and the last pages of it may require from an hour and a half to two-three hours, which is dependent on a speed of your reading.
Read with a pen in your hands
Use a proved rule of thumb – make notes while reading. It will help you with the very first draft of your future essay. You can forget something important afterwards, especially when you see the blank paper in front of you. Arm yourself with the most important information at once. It can take your time in the process, but it will save a good piece of it in the end.
In order to avoid making notes blindfold, reread and check out the requirements of your essay and find out what information to look for. This will increase your effectiveness. Make notes in the most handy way for you – write out, underline or use stickers, etc.
Two or three hours left and more than a half of the path is gone. You have two or more hours to write a book report and summarize everything on paper.
Make your first draft
Once you are done with so-called generalized reading, you can move on to finishing your first draft. Namely ‘finishing’, because you’ve almost done it in the process, written down the most important information and ideas for the relevant sections of your report. Don’t forget to keep your eye to the required formatting.
Spend the time left for improving your first draft and make it clear according to the requirements. Does it match to the words and pages count. How about the style and the content? Are you satisfied yourself?
60-90 remained minutes should be enough to finish it and start revising mistakes, misprints or rewriting the parts you find not appealing.
Once you’ve read this studenthacking instruction, close it and start working on your task. Try to focus only on the present moment and do what you should do. Otherwise, interfering with different issues will take much more of your time and reduce your effectiveness.
So do it. Or…
Write your report about any book with us!
We hope that you have found our tips useful and they will help you to write a very good report in the short term. We put all our experience in one place to give a comprehensive answer on your question ‘How to write essay on a book I didn’t read’, but still these recommendations do not guarantee you success, especially when you are running out of time and the task itself is not the easiest for you.
Counting on Google also makes not much sense, because of some evident reasons. There’s no one to prove that the given results will respond to your needs while surfing on the Internet, especially when your task is related to writing character analysis essays. Besides, a risk to find the works of poor quality or with incomplete information is what adds to this problem.
Writing an essay on a book from scratch is a decision that can save the situation. Feeling not enough passion for doing it itself, you can always count on our help and write your report with us. We will find an experienced writer, who is not only familiar with the book, but also competent at the task. This means that you will receive a profound essay, written in accordance with all the requirements. Once ordered, our pros will save you from bad essays and meet the specified deadline. So don’t bother and apply for professional help today.