Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

ImageThroughout the winter I dream of the long lazy days of summer when I will be able to sit in the garden and do nothing but read all through the hours of light.  It’s a dream that keeps me going as the wind howls round my own little corner of winter and I try not to look up every second minute to see whether or not it has started snowing.

The trouble is that what I always forget is that once such blowsy days arrive I then spend every second minute trying to stay awake. In part this is due to the antihistamines that vainly battle against the hay fever which I also manage to conveniently forget about, but it is also a fact that I am always more alive and alert when it is is cold, however much I might dislike the fact.

So, while it is really pleasant to be typing this with the French windows thrown wide open and Thomas Allen on the CD player singing Songs of Summer, I have to admit that there is precious little reading going on in the Bear Pit at the moment.  I must finish Martha Quest before this time next week, because not only is it our next book group read but it was my choice and I am leading the discussion, both considerations that ought to go some way towards lifting me out of my lethargy.  I also have a couple of teaching sessions coming up that have to be prepared and I really need to go and dig around in the library at Stratford for one of them.  Well, you can imagine what will happen if I go over there, can’t you?  One look at the boats on the river and I shall be finished.  I love river boats.

So, in lieu of any true book talk I throw out to a question tweeted by our library this morning: which is the book that you have pretended to have read when in actuality you have never got past the first few pages?

I am hoping that where I’m concerned it isn’t going to turn out to be the aforementioned Martha Quest.  It always used to be Wuthering Heights but so many people now know that I have never been able to read it that it probably doesn’t count any longer.  I think I would have to plump for Midnight’s Children.  After all how can you admit to never having read the Booker of Booker’s?   Whenever it comes up in conversation I nod in what I hope are all the appropriate places and pray that no one is going to ask me to comment on anything in detail.

But what about you?  What are you finally willing to own up to having to pretended to have read in order to save face?  Don’t worry, we’re all friends here and we won’t tell anyone else your ghastly secret – promise!

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33 thoughts on “Lazy, Hazy Days of Summer

    • I have been trying to think of circumstances where I would have to pretend I had read ‘Master and Margherita’, Carol and fortunately (as I haven’t read it) failing :-)

      • It was an ‘enjoyed by all others’ book group choice – then an expert heard how well it had gone down and offered me her erudite notes. I came clean then to her, but not to the others. I do feel rather ashamed. I have also kind of pretended to have read Toni Morrison’s famous Beloved (I’ve read all her other novels and rate them highly) My embarrassment here is that it has disappeared under my shameful TBR mountains. Family disapprove of these so I try to disguise them and so get in a mess – help. It is made worse by all the excellent 1p books available nowadays.

        • Oh tell me about it, Carol! I swear every time I see a review of a book that sounds interesting that I will not buy a copy only then to look it up and find that I can get so cheaply that there is really no excuse. (Other than the fact that I have neither the time to read them all nor the space in which to store them!) Coincidentally, Beloved was on my list of non-reads as well until quite recently. Fortunately, one of my book groups chose it. Definitely worth burrowing into that mountain to see if you can find it.

          • That’s comforting re Beloved.
            Can I send loving thoughts to your son? I feel for him but know it will pass and get so very much better.

            • Never fret! I know tired myself. I take it as a complement. I would be proud to have a son like Litlove’s. I think we should have a blog world celebration for your birthday. I hope you have a wonderful day.

  1. Do all the history books I used to pretend to have read for University count?? Fiction-wise, I’m not sure that I’ve ever pretended to read one I hadn’t, but I’ve often pretended to like one I hated (in my earlier, less opinionated days) – especially those dreaded Russians…well, who can say that Tolstoy was a bit long-winded and could have done with a strong editor? ;)

    • Interestingly, FF, most of the people who replied spoke of texts they should have read for an exam of some sort and then scrapped through on just the published notes.

  2. I spend so much of my time with non-readers that the question of what I’m reading or have read rarely comes up. Though I do remember once someone asking me about Henry James, and I think I said “oh of course,” when I’d never turned a page of any of his books.

    • I’m with you in feeling more alive in winter. I suppose Don Quixote is the book which I really should have tackled but haven’t/don’t know if I ever will. I have read Henry James – but only Turn Of the Screw. However, I think that we should never quite give up hope!

  3. I’ve burrowed dep into the grey cells but can’t think of a single fiction book I’ve pretended to have read. My guilty secret is a book we were all directed to read in prep for one of those ghastly business strategy sessions. It was called Good to Great by Jim Collins. On the flight to the meeting there were many colleagues trying to read this in time to look knowledgeable, I just asked them for the synopsis.

    • With that sort of book the synopsis is probably all you need. With luck no one is going to test you on it, anyway, so why waste good reading time?

  4. I’m too fearful to pretend I’ve read a book I haven’t read. The lie is too easily discovered! There could be follow-up questions from your interlocutor(s)! I always think about how embarrassing it would be to be caught out lying about a book I’d not read, and how much worse that would be than just acknowledging up front that I haven’t read it.

    • You’re right of course, Jenny, although I’ve found that just agreeing with people and thus making them feel that they are top of the class when it comes to reading often goes a long way:-)

  5. Al a fellow seasonal allergy sufferer I feel for you! I always dream of reading out in the garden too but after 20 minutes of not moving around my eyes are itching and I am feeling very uncomfortable. Working in the garden I’m fine because I am busy and moving around, but sitting and trying to read, I always end up disappointed.

    As to pretending to have read I book that I haven’t actually read, I’ve never done it. I’m terrible at bluffing so it’s just easier to come out with it then to pretend.

    • I would send you a long response, Stefanie, but I am too blocked up to see properly :-) The Bears insist that they read somewhere that honey is an excellent antidote to our seasonal horrors but I think that may just be a ploy to make me go out and buy a jar!

  6. I can’t think of anything unread that I claimed to have read, many because I don’t mix with too many reader with similar taste in ‘real life’ or maybe because I’ve read enough old and obscure books to be able to pull something out when needed. Our garden isn’t really big enough for siting comfortably, but on warm days Briar and I sit in the park, one reading and one on squirrel-alert.

    • Briar can come and sit on squirrel alert in our garden any time he likes. It is bound by woods and she would have a marvellous time.

  7. I haven’t exactly pretended, but I’ve cheated a lot — every time I have to tick a list of famous books I’ve read, I always include War and Peace. But in fact, though I’ve “read” it twice, I skipped all the war bits both times.

    • Me too, Harriet! The other bits are so much better that you don’t want to have to plough your way through the battle scenes in order to get back to the parts of the story that are really interesting.

  8. I spend all winter waiting for summer and then somehow never manage to move myself into the garden and enjoy it. I don’t have hay fever, but nor do I have a screen that I can read out there in daylight, and somehow I end up tied to a screen more than I like! I once didn’t admit that I hadn’t read The Odyssey in favour of mumbling noises of assent (I was in a group of people at the time) but like Jenny, I’m generally so afraid of what it would be like to be found out (in Cambridge!) for lying about reading something that I tend to stick as close to the truth as possible. Even when the list of books I should have read and haven’t is… enormous.

  9. I passed a test on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in High School without having read it, as I knew the story from history and having grown up in a theatrical family and I’d seen scenes from it. That I could do that increased my lip-curling attitude about my High School. After that, Julius Caesar became a measure of my contempt for formal schooling, so that I completed all the requirements for a PhD in Literature without ever having read it. Finally, as an adult, I read it and went to see a performance.

    • Performance first where Shakespeare is concerned , I always think, Jeanne. I know that isn’t always possible but these days streamed productions and DVDs are at least making it rather easier.

  10. I’m also worried I annoy others because I’ve read so very much and it may look like showing off.
    My 70th birthday (on the 19th) is already being celebrated beyond my wildest dreams – special delivery of huge silver wrapped be-pompommed box containing beloved 3rd born, my son who lives in Sydney! Special set from choir I sing with when I can.. A party to surpass all I’ve ever had before – and my family are taking me & themselves (10 of us) to Italy next week – I’ve never been. How about that? I could weep I’m so happy and I suffer from bad depression & various physical stuff………

  11. I can’t take antihistamines without falling asleep either. I use stinging nettle capsules and also a chinese herbal mix – Bi Yan Pian, readily available. Mine are worst in autumn, so I do get to sit outside in summer. And if introducing someone to books she has enjoyed and shared counts as impact, you have some on me! I don’t even know how I stumbled across your blog, but thank you from Minnesota, USA.

    • Thanks Megan, it has been my friends in the blogging world who have kept me positive in the last few weeks and when I do decide what I’m going to do it will definitely have a blogging platform. I think next year i am going to have to look at herbal alternatives to antihistamines. Am I right in thinking that you have to start to take them well in advance of the hay fever season so that the benefits can build up?

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