Seven short years ago, I threw my family of four into our Dodge mini-van and drove from Montana to Maine, and back again. Two teen-agers, our bird dog, a portable DVD player, and us crazy parents for 7752 miles! 26 United States later, people would ask my kids what their favorite part of the trip was. Their response? Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania–the home of Punxsutawney Phil! Not Mt. Rushmore, Gettysburg, or Niagara Falls. Not the Atlantic Ocean, Times Square, Boston Harbor, or any of our 5 Great Lakes. Their first response was without hesitation, “The home of that Groundhog that we see on TV on Groundhog Day.” Scandalous!
So, when I perused HOW TO TALK ABOUT BOOKS YOU HAVEN’T READ by Pierre Bayard, and joyously discovered that halfway through his book he had a whole chapter kinda devoted to the movie GROUNDHOG DAY  starring Bill Murray and Punxsutawney Phil, I was hooked
Honestly, though, just the title “How To Talk About Books You Haven’t Read” is an attention grabber. I bet he sold a boatload of books just on the title alone. Then the author threw out concepts like “non-reading” and my attention was double grabbed. I have always wanted to imagine what it would be like to not read a book. It almost seemed like he was giving us permission to do so, or actually to not do so.
So, I choose today to zero in and talk about my favorite chapter, VIII, appropriately titled, “Encounters With Someone You Love.” Using that pesky varmint and the laughable Bill Murray, Bayard throws out a line, “…the ideal way to seduce someone by speaking about books he or she loves without having read them yourself would be to bring time to a halt.”  Scandalous!
It never crossed my mind to do that. To seduce someone by trying to impress them about my special knowledge of reading the same book, while actually never reading it. Is that how people used to check compatibility before E-harmony gave us the modern ways–by what common books you read? I obviously spent way too much time in college in the gym and away from the Library. If I would have known telling beautiful ladies that I read books like OLD YELLER and WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS, and this might sweep them off their feet because they read the same books, I would have tried it over and over, with gusto.
Really, Bayard drove his point home to me that this dating technique might work because he said, and I quote, “Groundhog Day’s complex narrative device allows it to play out a fantasy of completion and transparency in which we see two individuals communicate about books, and thus about themselves.”  There they are, words like transparency, and communication. Now I know why this might have worked to charm my future wife–she absolutely loves transparency and communication! Bayard nailed it on the head.
Now I totally understood why the reviews for this scholarly book actually read like the reviews from a popular novel. Our Lead Mentor Dr. Jason Clark recommended we look on Google Books before cracking the cover to check out the reviews. I did so, not just for my grade to go up, but for actual thought provoking reviews, and wowza, people were almost madly in love with the satire and comedy of this tongue-in-cheek book. “Mischievous, provocative, humorous” were stamped on the reviews. National Public Radio (NPR) even did an extensive story, for crying out loud. Evidently this book has captured national and international attention. A bunch of the reviews in goodreads were actually written in Arabic. Now that surprised me. For some reason it never crossed my mind that this French author had the book printed in various languages. Do all authors do this? Mark Petersen, my fellow Elite LGP* Cohort brother, did you have your book translated into several languages?
I have to be a little honest, I didn’t recognize any of the other books referred to in the individual chapters. It would have made the other chapters come to more life if I would have had a better reference point. It’s not the author’s fault, I just didn’t connect quite as much as I would have liked. But that is okay, I still connected vicariously to the satire, especially with chapter titles like “Books You Have Skimmed” and “Books You Have Forgotten.”
I close with just one question, should I feel guilty about talking about books I haven’t read? Really, I feel like I was granted the opportunity to lie without being called a liar. This might lead to places I don’t want to go–like talking about movies I haven’t seen, or talking about places I have never been. (grin). This all makes me feel mysterious and more than a little bit shady…
 Groundhog Day (1993), directed by Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell.
 Pierre Bayard. How to talk about books you haven’t read. (Bloomsbury Publishing, USA, 2007) Kindle Edition, Location 1356.
 Ibid., 1466.