#bookadayuk A book you pretend to have read. I haven’t. And a confession about Romeo and Juliet

romeo 2


Why would you pretend to have read a book? I’ve never lied about what I have read, because what’s the point? I do have a confession, though. We studied Shakespeare at school. I first read his work at the age of eleven and struggled with A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Then at fifteen we looked at Romeo and Juliet as one of our GCSE texts. I struggled with romantic books then, and I still do in a way. Somehow, the whole forbidden love element of the story didn’t grab my attention. So I listened to the discussions, read the notes and miraculously managed to get a good grade in English Literature, despite never having read the whole text.

I later saw Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation but I struggled with this, too. I can understand why it was popular and I think he has an amazing eye for what works, but it was too overly dramatic for me. It wasn’t until we studied Othello that I really began to enjoy Shakespeare, and I made up for my sad lack of reading Romeo and Juliet by reading Othello three times! There was something about the darkness of Iago, and his persistence that held my attention. I saw a production of the play a few years ago at the Donmar Warehouse and was equally captivated. Both plays are tragedies but the effect they both had on me were vastly different.

Here is an interesting video of Ewan McGregor talking about the character of Iago in the play:


Do you have any favourite Shakespeare plays?

Or have you pretended to read something that you haven’t actually read?


  1. shereekuwtp says:

    I’ve pretended to have read things I haven’t (or, probably more accurately, I’ve pretended to be more familiar with an author’s work than I actually am), usually when I’ve just met someone and we’re talking favourite books. It’s a combination of wanting them to be at ease (not thinking I’m passing judgment on their favourite books by saying “no, I haven’t read that” a hundred times in a row), and not wanting them to see me as some kind of philistine (made the mistake once of confessing I’d never read any Kerouac, and hoo boy that was a conversation ender). It’s a hard charade to keep up, and I certainly wouldn’t bother for anything longer than a single conversation 😉 Glad to hear you got on with Shakespeare eventually, Othello is a cracker! (I’m kidding, I’ve never read it haha.)


  2. I think people lie about having read books to make themselves appear more well read. Especially when those lists come around saying these are the top. 100 books you must have read before you die! Etc. and no. I don’t care what people think 🙂


    1. fcmalby says:

      It’s crazy! I never push through a book I don’t like just because it’s popular, and I can’t imagine pretending to have read a classic. I don’t care either.


  3. kirkykoo79 says:

    Was it the production with Ewan McGregor that you saw? I managed to get tickets for that too and thought it was fantastic – a really strong cast rather than relying just on a great Othello or a great Iago. It really makes a difference if they seem to be a match for each other. The recent production at the National was interesting too, though I think Iago stole the show in that one!


    1. fcmalby says:

      Yes, it was fantastic. Although the National sounds equally good.


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