Thirty years ago, the French did away with the author. Roland Barthes' 'death of the author' theory eliminated the need to think about an author's intentions. Now, Pierre Bayard, in his presumably infinite wisdom, is doing away with reading good books! In How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read, Bayard argues that the importance of a work has more to do with its cultural impact than its actual plot, characters, setting, or themes. In other words, understanding Don Quixote's role in literature is more important than having actually read it. In fact, Bayard says that actually reading a book makes for bad 'readers'. All of you sound bite readers out there, you are in luck! You never have to read a good book again in order to look intelligent at a dinner party. Just read a few book reviews, understand its cultural significance, and you'll be better off than the bookworm by the bar.
Awesome! The pursuit of stupid and dull continues with this "smart" book that teaches you that reading is unnecessary for intelligence.
Perhaps I've misapprehended Prof. Bayard's points? Well, forgive me, I didn't want to risk stupidity and actually read it.