Lying About Books


Tyler Cowen notes that “46% of the surveyed men lie about what they have read — to impress partners — and 33% of the surveyed women admit to lying about their reading habits.”

I have to say that I’m so accustomed to the idea of lying about one’s reading habits that my first thought upon reading this was “what’s wrong with the other 54 percent of men?” Then I wondered if maybe they weren’t just lying about lying. And then I started thinking about how there are plenty of people besides potential hookups who you might want to try to impress by lying about which books you’ve read; indeed, it strikes me as the sort of thing that’s more useful as idle chit-chat than a dating strategy.

I wonder if you see a substantial difference based on educational attainment here. It seems to me that college (at least as we did it at Harvard) largely consists of lessons on how to pretend to have read various books. How many section discussions of British Moralists 1650-1800 (by far the best introduction to the subject!) did I bluff my way through?