The Book: Umberto Eco, FOUCAULT'S PENDULUM. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988 (first trade edition). Inscribed to the owner: "Good subway reading, or so everyone in D.C. seems to believe. Read it in good health -- Love, Carmen -- X-mas 1989." Fine condition.
First read: Still reading (theoretically)
Owned since: 1989
On the subject of unwieldy books that take years to read, here's one. I've been moving this book since 1989 -- it has accompanied me to eight separate residences -- and I haven't finished it yet. In fact, it's been a while since I last made the effort, and it's probably time for me to try again.
It is possible, if I've known you for a while, that you have the impression I've read this book. I may have implied that I'd read it, at some point -- as the inscription above suggests, everyone in Washington was reading it, or pretending to, 20 years ago. Because its subject matter is similar to that of the (inferior but easier-to-read) Da Vinci Code, I may have dropped this book's title into a few conversations during the Da Vinci Code mania -- again, perhaps, conveying the impression that I had, in fact, finished this book.
Sigh. I am such a damn fraud. I've written about this before, though, and it's one of my pal Tod Goldberg's favorite topics: the inevitable tendency of bookish people to pretend they've read things they haven't. It's rooted in shame, and a terrible snobbery; people I despise got through this book, why can't I?
So maybe, when the current whirl of activity settles a little, I'll tackle this book again. If you've read it, if you like it, leave me a comment to say why I should make the effort one more time.