At first, it appears ironic that a professor of literature advocates not reading but as you dig deeper into the book and understand who Pierre Bayard is, the elation of a student skipping out on reading assignments quickly wanes.
As a French based professor of literature, Pierre Bayard is an acknowledged non-reader and proud of it. Bayard says, “Because I teach literature at university level, there is, in fact, no way to avoid commenting on books that most of the time I have not even opened.” At a deeper level what Bayard wants to convey is that because there are so many books to read and so little time to read, the real goal is to be able to enter into dialogue with another about the “sense” of the book and allow the culture of the conversation to shape us even more than the book itself. Bayard goal fits within the paradigm of Syntopical Reading that Adler proposes in How to Read a Book  in which one is to put books into conversation with each other to get a broader perspective on the subject. Bayard writes,
In truth we never talk about a book unto itself; a whole set of books always enters the discussion through the portal of a single title, which serves as a temporary symbol for a complete conception of culture. In every such discussion, our inner libraries — built within us over the years and housing all our secret books — come into contact with the inner libraries of others, potentially provoking all manner of friction and conflict.
For we are more than simple shelters for our inner libraries; we are the sum of these accumulated books. Little by little, these books have made us who we are, and they cannot be separated from us without causing us suffering.
Bayard idea of the inner library is fascinating and speaks to an overall truth in life, which is, we are a summation of all the things we have seen, felt and done. We cannot separate life experiences one from another, and neither should we separate one piece of literature from another. Therefore, for Bayard expelling the negative social and cultural expectation of non-readers is paramount and advocates moving from an absolute linear position to a nonlinear and relative one. Again, Bayard states, “Only in accepting our non-reading without shame can we begin to take an interest in what is actually at stake, which is not a book but a complex interpersonal situation of which the book is less the object than the consequence.” Removing shame from non-reading maybe one of the most significant points Bayard makes throughout the whole book. As the famous saying goes, I can tell where you will be in five years by the people you hang out with and the books you read, which inadvertently puts a lot of pressure on people to read, which can lead to shame. While I am still an advocate for reading and understand the statement, removing the shame of not reading and allowing for interpersonal shaping is a better narrative to live as a backdrop of our lives.
As leaders, we can learn a lot from Bayard’s How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read. His emphasis on removing shame from the equation is an excellent place to start and the area I want to highlight. Shame can keep people from stepping into opportunities to grow themselves or an organization. Dr. Brené Brown in dealing with shame says, “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change” as good leaders’ part of the job is to help remove shame from the equation to create space for that innovation, creativity, and change to happen. The interpersonal skill of reading people is a necessity in every good leader, not so that one can take advantage of another, but to provide an advantage to the other, as they may not be able to see past their current situation because they lack the correct reading of the situation. It may be even more important for the leader to model vulnerability were possible in order to foster a culture that sees it as strength and not a weakness.
 Pierre Bayard, How to Talk about Books You Havent Read (New York: Bloomsbury, 2010), xv.
 Jerome Adler and Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2014).
 Bayard, 73.
 Bayard, 129.
 “Vulnerability Is the Birthplace of Innovation, Creativity and Change: Brené Brown at TED2012.” TED Blog, accessed October 9, 2018, https://blog.ted.com/vulnerability-is-the-birthplace-of-innovation-creativity-and-change-brene-brown-at-ted2012/.