Reading Lies

Which books are people most likely to pretend they’ve read?


In a Telegraph study of 2,000 Brits, 62% of respondents admitted to telling others that they had read classic books they hadn’t so much as skimmed. 42% confessed to hunting down the film or TV version of a famous novel so they could absorb the plot and pretend to have read the book. Number one in the list of book lies? 1984 by George Orwell.

Books We Lied About Reading
1. 1984 – George Orwell
2. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
3. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
4. Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
5. Passage to India – EM Forster
6. Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkein
7. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
8. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoevsky
9. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
10. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte



In an earlier survey, World Book Day talked to 1,324 readers and they too fessed up to some literary fibbing. 

We lied about reading:
1. 1984 – George Orwell. 42%
2. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy. 31%
3. Ulysses – James Joyce. 25%
4. The Bible. 24%
5. Madame Bovary. Gustave Flaubert. 16%
6. A Brief History of Time. Stephen Hawking. 15%

So, what were people really reading whilst pretending to grapple with the subtleties of Tolstoy?

We were really reading:
1. Harry Potter. 61%
2. John Grisham. 32%
3. Sophie Kinsella. 22%

Header: Laura Theresa Alma-Tadema. Book of Dreams. 1876

1984. George Orwell Book Cover. Artwork by Jon Gray



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