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Confessions of a “Pretend I’ve Read It”-aholic

Emily Gatlin

Staff Writer

Emily Gatlin is a former independent bookstore manager turned freelance writer. Follow her antics on Twitter: @emilygatlin

To quote Guitar, “Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”

I am about to confess my best kept reading secret to the world, and it feels so good.

My name is Emily and I am a “Pretend I’ve Read It”-aholic.

Person: “Jane Eyre is WAY better than Wuthering Heights.”

Me: “I don’t know. I’m partial to Wuthering Heights because EMILY Bronte.”

Truth fact: Y’all, I read plot synopses while writing this and neither one sounds remotely familiar to me.

Person: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Me: (Long pause) “Ahh… yes. Gatsby.”

Truth fact: Robert Redford is a super fox in that weird bathing suit thing. And yes, someone actually quoted the last line of The Great Gatsby to me once. It was pretty deep.

Person: A Confederacy of Dunces  is my favorite book in the world. Isn’t it the greatest?

Me: Oh yeah. I wonder what else John Kennedy Toole could have written. So sad.

Truth fact: I’ve read the first ten pages no less than five times. I don’t get it. I want to. But I really don’t.

I’ll admit, most books I pretend to have read are classics. I was “WHAT DO YOU MEAN”-ed enough in high school for not having dates. I didn’t want to be “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU! YOU AREN’T A REAL READER”-ed as a 30 year old woman.

Should I make amends and go back and read what I “should have read” in high school? Does it really even matter?

Truth fact: I’ve never read a Jane Austen book. Not a single one. Honestly, I don’t care to.

As readers, shouldn’t we read what we want to and not feel book-shamed, especially when it comes to books we haven’t read?

Around Christmas, I got a whole mess of Amazon gift cards and I picked some books I wanted to save them for. Well, thanks to the post spreading like wildfire and publishers having my address on file, most of the books I was waiting for manifested themselves on my doorstep within a few days. So…

used book bonanza emily gatlinThe USED BOOK BONANZA OF 2014 was born. I missed a lot of good books while I was in college and during my years as an indie bookseller, and I’m tired of smiling and nodding when people talk about them. I care more about the direction literature is going than where it has been.

Wow, it feels good to let that out.

Ordering used books online absolutely fascinates me. It’s a complete crapshoot AND it’s cheap. Why not make a game out of it?

I have rules. The book has to be one I haven’t read but want to read enough that it’s allowed to take up shelf space. Real estate is a big deal in my house. Also, I can’t pay more than $.03 for it. With shipping, it’s around $4.02 a book.

When they come, it’s like Christmas. Sometimes I get an Easy Bake Oven with extra brownie mix included (hello, fine first edition of a book with 36 printings that I got for A PENNY). Other times I get a lump of coal (no dust jacket AND it smells like cat pee? VERY GOOD, MY AUNT FANNY!).

I’m giving up the shit. I’m going to be honest about books I haven’t read and I’m only reading what I want to from now on.

Sorry, Jane Austen.


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