A correction

You know that feeling when you decide to reread a book after many years? You know how you look forward to a comforting, familiar read, perhaps with new insights this time round, but mostly, you want to revel in a familiar story? You know how you start the reread and think, I barely remember the beginning, it’s like reading it for the first time! You know the creeping realization that you have not actually read this book? That you owned it, gave it a rating on Goodreads, referenced it in one of your first blog posts, and mentioned it on social media as recently as this week, but you did not actually read the thing?

Bookish confession coming up:

The Corrections Jonathan Franzen

I never read The Corrections.

It’s not (just) that I’m delusional. After some head-scratching, I figured it out: I confused Douglas Coupland’s All Families are Psychotic with The Corrections. Now I understand why I was waiting for the Lambert family to sit down and watch a NASA launch – a big plot point in Coupland’s book. In my defense:

  • The books came out within weeks of each other, just before and after 9/11.
  • Both books were by arguably the biggest American/Canadian authors of the moment (Coupland more arguably than Franzen, I guess, but in my mind…)
  • I bought them both on the same day, in a huge second-hand bookstore score (newly released hardcovers!)
  • Both books are about messed up families trying to get together one last time. One for Christmas, one to watch a spaceship launch.

I atoned the only way I could: power-read The Corrections over the past week. And I liked it more than my fake-reading, so that’s something!

If you’ve experienced this particular book nerd problem (ugh,) please let me know so I don’t feel like such a loser.




  1. Naomi

    Haha! That’s great!
    So, does that mean that you would recommend All Families Are Psychotic?
    I have the opposite confession to make about The Corrections. For years I had the book sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, until I was looking back through my list of books I’ve read, and saw The Corrections. I must have read it shortly after it came out, but I have absolutely no recollection of it, and can’t remember anything about it. I don’t know if that says something about what I thought of it at the time, or if it just says something about me…

    • lauratfrey

      Thank you for commiserating 🙂 I probably have to reread All Families again too, since I am all mixed up about it. In my mind, I liked All Families better than The Corrections, you know, before I’d actually read The Corrections. I think I split up the book, or just randomly assigned parts of it as “The Corrections.” So I have no idea. Coupland is really hit and miss for me. I love some of his books, but some of them just make me go “huh?” This might have been one of them!

  2. TJ @ MyBookStrings

    You are not alone! For years, I was convinced that I had read The Awakening, until I realized that I was confusing it with Ethan Frome. 🙂 And I accidentally read In the Company of a Courtesan twice. It took me until 30 pages before the end to recognize the story. I didn’t like it much better the unintended second time around. I was so upset about wasting my time!

  3. chiggins82

    Nicely done! I have definitely thought i read a book, but actually hadn’t. In my case it is usually that i started it and forgot to finish it until i find it again and can’t remember how it ends.

    Also, i loved all families are psychotic . I am pretty sure i finished too!

  4. mdellert

    Reblogged this on MDellert-dot-Com and commented:
    As a lit major, I completely understand… At cocktail parties, “Oh, *that* book? It was amazing… If I remember correctly… Which perhaps… I’m not…” (chagrin!)

      • mdellert

        Sometimes on purpose (“Sure, Professor Beckettscholar, ‘Molloy’ really is one of the greatest books ever. Personally, I loved it.”), but not always (“You and I remember ‘To the Lighthouse’ very differently… There wasn’t a car chase?”). 😉

  5. ebookclassics

    I do this all the time! Or I think I read the book, but I actually watched the movie. I feel like your mix-up may have been worth it since the real The Corrections was four stars for you.

  6. Rory

    For the longest time I confused my reading of Anna Karenina with Madame Bovary (which I have not read). So you’re not alone (both classic with unhappily married women, what can I say?!).

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