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Lying About Books

All the Books I Lied About Reading to Impress Guys (and Then Read Anyway)

We're happy to present this excerpt from one of our favorite sites, HowAboutWe. Chatting about books is always a great conversation starter. Find out the aftermath of saying you read a certain novel to your significant other when you really haven't.

I graduated from college with very little romantic experience and an extensive knowledge of English literature 1918-1925. Flirting confused me. I was, however, very good at studying. And so I approached postgraduate dating the only way I knew how: by attacking it in the library, one reference at a time. If you mentioned a book, I’d read it immediately. Sometimes, in moments of overzealous agreeability, I'd claim to have already read it, in which case I'd also read it immediately but secretly. Saying you've read something you haven't read is only a lie if you don't make it true by the next time you talk to that person, right? That person, for the record, will not remember mentioning it and will not be impressed. Also, that person will still never read The Corrections, even though you recommended it twice and it is the most unobjectionable recommendation of all time.

My method was not a terribly successful seduction technique: in what came as news to me, identical reading lists are not the key to romantic compatibility, even if you aren't artificially engineering them. On the bright side, I learned many important lessons during this time, like "be yourself" and "you are not Charles Bukowski's target audience." Here are all the books I lied about reading in chronological order:

1. Oblivion, David Foster Wallace
"You would really like this," Mark said as we read our separate books over separate coffees in separate existential fogs. "It's really depressing. Are you into DFW?" I was not and am not particularly "into DFW," although I was and remain certain that under the right circumstances — circumstances that have yet to arise — I could be. I had, however, read him in Harper's, because I am not a heathen. Based on this positive, if singular, experience, I took a stand. I did indeed enjoy depressing things, as evidenced by both my life in general and this budding relationship specifically; that was true. But he should really know that I was more into David Foster Wallace's nonfiction. Consider the Lobster (the collection, not just the essay) was a masterpiece of the form, I said, which I knew because I read the Internet. I certainly did not know it because I'd read the book.

Results: Two intense months, ending in his halfhearted promise that "we could still, like, watch The Wire together." I did like Consider the Lobster, though.

2. Less Than Zero, Bret Easton Ellis
It seemed reasonable to me, given my general disinterest in both brutal hedonism and cocaine, that I had not read Less Than Zero, which Bill informed me was his favorite book. It would also have been equally reasonable not to have pretended that this was an oversight in my otherwise-exhaustive knowledge of Bret Easton Ellis, who I was definitely otherwise very familiar with, especially after reading his Wikipedia entry at home that night. After he'd gone to sleep, I stole it, read it, hated it, and returned it several weeks later, along with everything he'd ever left at my apartment.

Results: A book is a stupid deal breaker, but if a book is going to be a deal breaker, might I suggest Less Than Zero?

For two more examples, head to HowAboutWe: All the Books I Lied About Reading to Impress Guys (and Then Read Anyway)

— Rachel Sugar

Check out more great stories from HowAboutWe:

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