Thursday, March 05, 2009

Do you lie about your reading?

An interesting article in the Telegraph today about the results of a survey orgainsed to mark World Book Day.

Readers were asked to reply anonymously to the questions which included one asking if they had ever lied about reading literary books "to make themselves appear more intelligent and sexy than they actually are."

Apparently two thirds of those who responded admitted to lying about their reading. And the book most people claimed to have read was 1984 by George Orwell.

The second part of the survey asked people what they really liked to read and enjoyed. And guess what was right in there, above authors like James Herbert and Frederick Forsyth but Mills & Boon. 5th out of a list of 10. Good for all those readers, that's what I say. At times when the subject finding ways of getting people to read and keep reading is being debated all over the place - how about taking note of a resounding vote for simple, straightforward reading for pleasure? If people were made to feel less embarrassed by the fact that what they enjoy reading doesn't meet with the approval of the elitist critics who seem to think that only reading thier choice of the 'right' books is actually worth registering, then perhaps the levels of literacy could go up through simple practice and enjoyment.

If you want to know the full results then here they are:

Books we pretend we have read:
1. 1984, by George Orwell42%
2. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy31%
3. Ulysses, by James Joyce25%
4. The Bible24%
5. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert16%
6. A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking15%
7. Midnight's Children, by Salman Rushdie14%
8. In Remembrance of Things Past, by Marcel Proust 9%
9. Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama6%
10. The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins6%

(If you want to know - I've read 1-5 of these and not the others. And no I've never lied about reading any of them - I can't actually see the point.)

Authors we actually like reading:
1. J K Rowling61%
2. John Grisham32%
3. Sophie Kinsella22%
4. Jilly Cooper20%
5. Mills & Boon18%
6. Dick Francis17%
7. Robert Harris16%
8. Jeffrey Archer15%
9. Frederick Forsyth13%
10. James Herbert12%

I suspect this topic might come up tomorrow when I have an interview on Radio Humberside.

If you can find the station (95.9fm, 1485am ) , I'll be talking to Lara King sometime after 10am. I'll be talking, amongst other things, about my latest book - Cordero's Forced Bride - which is officially published tomorrow. And possibly about living and working with another writer (aka The Babe Magnet) in a combinaton that's affectionately known as Crime and Passion.


Suzanne said...

I've read 4 from the first list and 8 from the second. We were forced to read 1984 for o' grade English - and I loathed it. Give me a Mills & Boon any day.

Christina Hollis said...

I'm ashamed to say I've fallen asleep over Proust so often I once fibbed about finishing it. Never again. You're right, Kate, there's no point.

OTOH, I *have* read Hawking, but still prefer Feynman!

Caroline said...

The only thing I lie about is the number of books in my 'to be read' pile! I counted up the other day and found it had got to 93 - the other half thinks it's only about 30, due to the cunning way they're packed into the bedside table!!

Jan Jones said...

Read: 2 and 4. Lied about: none. What's the point?

Love your incompetent mathematical skills, Caroline!

Biddy said...

I've only read the Hawking book, but I'm with Christina on Feynman being much better. Physics Grrrls!!

Anna said...

Kate, we've read the same books and we have the same opinion. As you and Christina say, I just don't get the point in lying. Mind you, like Suzanne, I was forced to read 1984 and Animal Farm in a class, and I wouldn't have managed to slog through either of those without the class.

And--I may have stretched the truth--in your friend Caroline's fashion!

Wish I could hear your talk about Crime and Passion! Is there any way to listen via the Internet?

(Oh, and I loved your lemonade post! You're a woman I can always count on to be looking at the world in a positive way!)

Donna Alward said...

Urg - I commented and it got eaten!

Gist of it is - hooray for popular fiction in the "what I enjoy reading" category - it is why I write what I do - for readers. I firmly believe in accessible writing.

I have never lied about reading something I haven't but I've felt woefully inadequate at times knowing what I HAVEN'T read.


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