The Big Reading Lie

Is there a book you´ve never read but tell people you have?

In all honesty – Yes. I have. But let me explain….

First, let me tell you…I´m not huge on lying. I´m probably the worst liar there is because I get tangled in my own lies. That´s why I don´t lie. Lies are so stupid and worthless because… they´re simply facts that aren´t true.

Years ago, it was frowned upon in the book society when an avid reader claimed to be an avid reader without having read the world´s classics.

“What?! You haven´t read Kafka´s Methamorphosis?” 

So, what does a girl do who´s been asked if she has read the works of Kafka, Nietzsche, Wilde, Austen and Co. but hasn´t? A girl lies.

” Of course. I´ve read Kafka´s Methamorphosis.” My big reading lie.

My problem was-  I´ve already had a few classics under my reading belt up until that moment. Not many classics. Just the one´s I either had to read in School or the one´s my parents had on their bookshelves.

The lie I gave nearly ate me alive. On the one hand, I was ashamed that I (!!) haven´t read anything from Kafka, and on the other hand, I was afraid those same bookish people would eventually want to discuss Kafka´s work with me. The only solution to my problem, before ending up with stomach cramps, was: To pick `Metamorphosis`from Kafka and read it.

And boy, did I ever read Kafka´s Metamorphosis. I read it. I flung it on the sofa. Picked it back up. Hid the book where I thought I would forget about it. Felt bad and pulled it back out. To make a long 3 week story short: I hated it. I hated every page. I despised the words.

There was no negative feeling I hadn´t felt while reading Metamorphosis. But… I was prepared for future discussions with book people. That was my goal and I achieved it with lots of sweat and hate.

After that, I decided no book club was worth the effort. No book discussion would ever drive me to such extremes again. No more lying about books I haven´t read.

What I didn´t know back then was, a classic isn´t necessarily a classic. I read `Little Women` by Louisa May Alcott and I´ve also read a few Jane Austen books. But those were also frowned upon in certain book circles because they´re “mainstream”. You´re only a real book-worm if you´ve read the heavy hams people curse to be true literature classics.

Honestly, I feel like I´m in Highschool, again, taking music. You were only cool if you listened to dubious, unknown artists… or Nirvana and acted all artsy with uncombed hair ( those were the days, eh?).

After my encounter with the book club from the seven pits of Hell I sort of kept an eye on other book discussions. You will not believe the amount of liars there are in those many groups.

“Nietzsche? Oh yeah. I have his collection. Right next to my Fifty Shades Of Grey books.”

“I read Tolstoy when I was 14 years old. Brilliant, I tell you. Just brilliant.”

It´s not that I don´t believe people when they say they´ve read certain classics. I do have faith that not everyone is a liar. But you can spot a book lie when having a book conversation. Words fly back and forth and then it happens.

“Oh, I´m waiting for approval on Netgalley for that one.”

( for Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. Publication date: 1932 )

Busted. Caught.

 

Some time after my own private book lie I found a thread on Reddit where people were trying to hold a civilized conversation on the classic literature topic.

That thread was GOLD!

Book people from all corners of the world, from all literature niches were arguing over what could be considered a classic, classic literature… and if those classics were mandatory reads. I watched the thread grow for hours. It was interesting, to say the least. Interesting because so many people have read ALL the world´s classics.

Then there was a woman. I have no idea who she was, where she came from or why she was following the thread but she was my favorite person that evening.  My bookish Hero.

“It´s not a crime if you haven´t read classic literature”

I´m not sure if that woman is still alive or if the classic literature brigade hunted her down. I hope she´s okay.

I have to agree, though. It´s truly not a crime if someone has never touched a classic book before. There´s no shame in reading modern books and believing they´re literature.

Literature in its broadest sense, is any single body of written books. Of course, the older works from long passed writers are considered to be superior because they´re… old and hold a different worth. But does that make modern literature worth less? No.

So, my question still stands.

Is there a book you´ve never read but tell people you have?

Share your secrets and lies.

Thank you for reading.

Morgana ❤