Top Ten Books People Lie About Reading

Interesting article listing the top ten books people lie about reading, at least in Britain.

Here’s the list, with my own annotations:

1. 1984, by George Orwell 42%: I have never read this one. I don’t think I’ve ever lied about it, though I’ve talked about it conversation because I know enough about it to do so. It’s one of those books that’s become a part of our culture.

2. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy 31%: Never read it. I am woefully behind in my Russian literature reading, actually. I’ve only read Crime and Punishment.

3. Ulysses, by James Joyce 25%: Never read this one either. Too daunting. Watched a friend in high school slogging away at it for a year, and I think she made it through about a third after her struggle .

4. The Bible 24%: Depends on what you consider “The Bible” now doesn’t it? I have, in fact, read the whole Torah, like many Jews have. I have been meaning to read all the prophets (Neviim) and writings (Kethuvim) but have only read pieces of it as of now. Never read the New Testament, except a few pieces here and there.

5. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert 16%: No. Why would anyone lie about this?

6. A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking 15%: Hey, I’ve actually read one! Woo hoo!

7. Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie 14%: Damn it, I started this one…meant to finish it too…

8. In Remembrance of Things Past, by Marcel Proust 9%: Nope, never read this one.

9. Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama 6%: Nope, never read this one either.

10. The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins 6%: I’ve never even heard of this one, though I am actually interested in reading The God Delusion but Dawkins. Even though I’m not an atheist.

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~ by realsupergirl on March 13, 2010.

2 Responses to “Top Ten Books People Lie About Reading”

  1. 1. 1984, by George Orwell: Read it on my own when I was in high school.

    2. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy: Never read it.

    3. Ulysses, by James Joyce: Read it in a Joyce and Woolf class at Reed.

    4. The Bible: Read a bit for a Humanities class at Reed. I find it extremely weird.

    5. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert: Read it, was disappointed by lack of sex.

    6. A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking: Nope!

    7. Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie: Not that one

    8. In Remembrance of Things Past, by Marcel Proust: I own this in case I feel like reading it sometime.

    9. Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama: Modern non-humorous, non-fiction? Not likely.

    10. The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins: Nope!

    I may be semi-literate, but at least not a liar!

  2. It’s a British list, and also reflects a British sensibility: lying about classic books one has never read. Most Americans really have no shame about their ignorance of literature–and pretty much everything else. That said, I’m a great believer that people should have the right not to read books they believe they’ll hate (for me, The Bible, for obvious reasons, and War and Peace, because I really wanted to like Anna Karenina and didn’t) or to wait to read books until they feel like reading them (I read Brideshead Revisited during the summer and really enjoyed it, but probably wouldn’t have when I was a teenager). What I really can’t believe is that this list contains NOT ONE WOMAN AUTHOR.

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