Some derogatorily think I’m a biblio-dilettante, because I read on a great many subjects every week without cracking a book’s spine. So to prove to the naysayers about my dedication to original knowledge, and that I can really read more than book reviews, book jackets, or titles—from time to time I actually try to read a book. After reading a review or reviews of a book, the result of reading the book is a repetitive experience
For example, after reading a few book reviews about John Marshall and his brilliant influence on the Supreme Court, I actually read (most of) a book about him and can honestly say that the reviews are much better and give all of the information needed.
Here are some other examples of books that failed the whole book test:
Salt… about the effects of salt on the history of the world. It changed things for all of us—to read more than a review would be, well, too salty.
Cod… about the effects of cod fishing on the history of the world (suffice it to, again, say that it changed things). One could digest the subject matter by reading a whole book but the book would probably smell after three days so, I say, just read the reviews;
Oysters… I must confess I only skimmed the reviews, so I know I can’t possibly sound as if I’m swimming in knowledge of the subject matter. But, I feel sure that those reviews impart as many pearls of wisdom as a whole book would.
In any event, my advice to those of you who like to read a lot, but don’t have the time to match that desire, is to stick with the reviews or even, in some cases, the book jackets or titles, as a tapas kind of experience.
Just as devouring too much salt or fish requires one to, eventually distill those gastronomic experiences to a concentrated amount anyway, book reviews, book jackets, and titles are the way to go.
You can even sound intelligent if you keep the conversation short enough.