The Books We Lie About Reading

The New York Times Magazine has a list of books that their staff lies about reading. They were inspired to ask the question after another site posted a list of books Brits lie about reading.  Seems like something only students would do but no, some people want to appear smart by saying they read something they did not. Really stupid people, of course, just brag about TV shows they claim to have watched.


Oddly, their list is a pretty cool reading list. Does that make them smart for knowing the cool books to lie about?  Here’s a few they came up with.

  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • A People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn.
  • The Kingdom and the Power, by Gay Talese.

Want to start your summer reading early?  Click on the images below.



  1. SludgeHound

    May 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    Satanic Verses should be on this list instead of Great Gatsby.  Confederate of Dunces is a really good book, and funny, too.  I got halfway through Infinitie Jest right after Wallace killed himself and I had to put it down before I did the same.

  2. Steakleather

    May 13, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    I’ve read one of these (Gatsby), and started and stopped three of them (Corrections, Dunces, Moby Dick). And I consider myself an avid reader.

  3. Socoral

    May 13, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    I’ve read 1984 only because I didn’t get any Orwell when I was in high school.  Lot’s of shit about racism in the south though, and I lived 10 hours north of Vancouver.

    • notbrennan

      May 14, 2012 at 10:25 am

       @Socoral dumb fucking prince george or something more north motherfucker 

  4. Toin Coss

    May 13, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    I like to wait for the Movies!?/?!

  5. rexdart936

    May 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    You forgot the Gor series of books.

  6. TyWanon

    May 13, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    I took a page out of Pepper’s Book, and read ALL of these books on Wikipedia today

  7. Franklin97

    May 13, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    It’s because the so called intellectuals are full of shit. They just don’t want to admit they spend most of their reading time on sci/fi and fantasy like most people.

  8. TyWanon

    May 13, 2012 at 7:59 pm

    I lied about how i read the Articles in Playboy

  9. hackcomic

    May 13, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    read 6

  10. wrylab

    May 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    I don’t understand why people would lie about reading.  Good literature is personal.  It’s intimate.  I don’t read for “bragging rights.”  I read b/c I enjoy the act of reading.  

  11. ScumbagSteve

    May 13, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    I got as far as “Call me Ishmael” in Moby Dick.

    • ScumbagSteve

      May 13, 2012 at 10:53 pm

      Any credit for having the song on your iPod?

  12. TyWanon

    May 13, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    I read a Book once….once

  13. eddietirebiter

    May 14, 2012 at 12:40 am

    I thought Finnegans Wake was always the top of that list.

  14. rutten187

    May 14, 2012 at 10:17 am

    How about the bible

    • Bloobs

      May 14, 2012 at 12:30 pm

       @rutten187 The list isn’t explicitly fiction

  15. Gunner

    May 14, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    What about “Atlas Shrugged”? Nobody has ever finished that one!

    • Gunner

      May 14, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      Not even Ayn Rand!!

  16. KevinFromConn

    May 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I’ve BEEN booked but I never read a book.

  17. PorkRoll

    May 14, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I pride myself on not reading one of these

  18. Pauly Wallnuts

    May 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    Gatsby?  You can read that in about 2 hours

  19. WILCOPearlJam

    May 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I’ve read ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’, ‘War and Peace’ and ‘A People’s History’ out of that last. I am an avid reader and find it funny when people lie about the books they read.

  20. harlequincy

    May 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    I lied about reading the Lord of the Rings just to be cool with the nerders. Plus, never seen the movies either.

    • OptichrisPrime

      May 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm

       @harlequincy Just a lot of walking…didn’t miss much.

      • Cletus from Brooklyn

        May 14, 2012 at 2:16 pm

         @OptichrisPrime  @harlequincy The Return of the King drags on. The book…

  21. OptichrisPrime

    May 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    How about books we read that we *don’t* admit to…

  22. Cletus from Brooklyn

    May 14, 2012 at 2:05 pm


  23. 5divines

    May 14, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Animal Farm

  24. LizSetsFire

    May 14, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I haven’t read any of this horse shit.

  25. Cletus from Brooklyn

    May 14, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    A catcher in the Rye. The Autobiography of Malcolm X…

  26. 5divines

    May 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    To Kill a Mockingbird

  27. harlequincy

    May 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Everyone’s lied at some point…book reports in school? Cliffs Notes?

  28. geddyb

    May 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Mein Kampf… because we all should care if skinheads think we are well read..

  29. Cletus from Brooklyn

    May 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    He doesn’t count, he can’t even read…

    • harlequincy

      May 14, 2012 at 2:08 pm

       @Cletus from Brooklyn Pepper?

      • Cletus from Brooklyn

        May 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm

         @harlequincy It’s from the only Sandler Movie I like, Big Daddy…

  30. Klaus_Flauten

    May 14, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Howard Zinn is only good for wiping your ass after an especially runny shit.