I can't quite believe that this book is actually proposing what Lynne Truss's review of it seems to say it is proposing:
The only thing wrong with this volume is its anglicised “How to” title, suggestive of an airy bluffer’s guide. In fact, this is a rich, meaty and immensely enjoyable essay that challenges the “artificial distinction” between “I have read that book” and “I have not read that book”. It is about where legitimate critical opinions really come from — both in the world about us and the world within.
The point is that, between reading a book cover to cover and not picking it up at all, there are umpteen normal and valid critical responses to books, and we are daft to feel bad about ourselves for not having “read” Joyce or Proust when we probably know a significant amount about both writers. Bayard’s message is that a person who has literally “read” the book has, in any case, arguably no advantage in understanding it over someone who hasn’t.
Not having "read" Bayard, I'm tempted to say that this, the last (emphasis added) sentence especially, is the purest of bollocks. Nor can I honestly believe that low self-esteem on account of 'not having "read" Proust or Joyce' is a significant problem in today's society. But in my benighted adhesion to the bad old ways I think I'd better have a cursory flick through the book itself before working up a full head of sneer.