Title of this book, a perfect description of what I do so often, is a funny way of expressing the truth. While I am confessing to my crime for the first time, there may be others who have talked about books they have not read, on many occasions, in demanding situations. If some people have an image of myself, far greater than what I really am or what I deserve to be, I would not like to admit that they are guilty of exaggeration or I am guilty of hiding the truth behind their image. It would be convenient to let them have their illusion, for once at least in this life, they would say something good about me. After all, if somebody exposes my hidden truth, I would plead guilty, if it is necessary to establish that I am a honest person. For me establishing my honesty is more important than pretending to be a genius.
Coming to the book, it describes many aspects reading or not reading books. It is a description of our strengths and failings as readers and non-readers. It points to the aspects of not reading the books even when we have read books. While we recall books that we have read long time ago, we do not recollect whole text of the book. We recall what we can remember at a particular point of time or a textual summary of the book. Most of the times, we do not remember even the textual summary, we do remember the things that we ingested from the book. It is not same as the book. If we talk about the book, we are not talking about the book. In fact we are talking about a book that is in the shelves of our memory, along with the series of books on similar or same context. In that sense our memory is a library of books we have read and to talk about one book without recollecting the connected book is not possible.
The author has mentioned all kinds of books you don’t know, i.e. the books you have only skimmed, books you have heard of and the books you have forgotten. He has also mentioned kinds of situations such as, Encounters in society, Encounters with Professors, Encounters with Writers and Encounters with someone you love. HE describes the funny contradictions of knowing the book and not knowing the book, even without reading and on some occasions even after reading the whole book. References to examples in fiction on talking about books without reading and even examples of Professors of literature not having read literary masterpieces examples are cited to indicate the process of reading and talking about books without reading and only with the help of general awareness of the book on the basis of other connected references, readings and criticisms.
This book also advises as to how you may behave in the situations you are in. We should not feel ashamed (to admitting the truth of not having read the book). It also advises how to impose your ideas, how to invent books and how to speak about books.
On a serious note, this book brings out what constitutes reading or not-reading books. It also brings out that reading is not reading each word or recollecting each word faithfully. Rather, it is an eye opening book which points to the fact that reading is not a mechanical function but it is simultaneously a intellectually creative exercise. What we gain from either Reading or Not reading can be decided by each individual. Really this teaches us methods of reading or not reading books. However, this books brings into focus the purpose of reading is not reading but gaining what each one prefers in his own humble life.