Oh dude! I can sure use this. It's small talk taken to the nth level. It's Cliff's Notes at your fingertips in one convenient volume. I'm talking about How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read by Pierre Bayard, Translated by Jeffrey Mehlman.
Now the fact that this comes out of France really kills me. The cosmopolitan cities of France would have us believe they are paved with Readers, Artists, and the Elite. But really, they are all a bunch of cheats. Viva la France!
If you want to be up on your cultural literacy--and not just the fact that you can sing the whole Gilligan's Island theme song--you must delve deeper into these pages and learn a few tricks. The author breaks down the categories into these abbreviations: UB: book unknown to me; SB: book I have skimmed; HB: book I have heard about; and FB: book I have forgotten.
I'm not quite sure how well these really work because...I haven't read the book. But if I were to skim it--as I understand the author suggests--then I'd probably get enough of the gist of it to be able to discuss it at a cocktail party or around the water cooler...or on a blog.
Seriously. There are a lot of books out there and time's awastin'. But time is valuable and we don't want to waste it on boring books. Stand up for yourself. Proudly declare that you have not read Moby Dick and probably never will. Does that make you a cultural idiot? The fact that you know who Moby Dick is, the fact that you probably know that Herman Melville wrote it, and that Captain Ahab is one of the chief protagonists is probably all you need. Just kick back at the nearest Starbuck's and don't worry about it. Take two tablets and call me Ishmael in the morning.