French scholar Pierre Bayard wrote this provocative book (translated by Jeffrey Mehlman; 2007). It does not have a readers' advisory standpoint nor is it light instruction for social situations in which people are discussing books. Don't let its slim size fool you: this isn't a breeze to get through. The book is divided into three parts: the different modes of "non-reading," a few scenarios of discussing unread books, and ways to get out of doing so. Works of literature are referenced throughout, most of which Bayard says he has either skimmed or not read.
It is easy to get annoyed with the author at times. There were parts, however, I found quite interesting, the first being the outlandish notion of not reading any individual books and instead developing one's cultural literacy through placing all books in context. Bayard argues that culture is really "a theater charged with concealing individual ignorance and the fragmentation of knowledge" (126). He says: "The trick is to define the book's place in [the collective] library, which gives it meaning" (117). Another intriguing idea Bayard explores is literary criticism being an art form in itself. He argues that reviewing a work is most importantly an act of creativity and self-discovery.
He prefaces his book with the following quote attributed to Oscar Wilde: "I never read a book I must review; it prejudices you so." Bayard is a psychoanalyst as well as a professor of literature, and he veers into that sort of territory in the book. Take, for instance, his notion of "phantom books that surface where the unrealized possibilities of each book meet our unconscious. These phantom books fuel our daydreams and conversations far more than the real objects that are theoretically their source" (160). There are parts of the book well worth reading for the enlightening tidbits, so I would recommend skipping over some sections to get to the good parts.