Saturday, June 6, 2009

What have you really read?

In the Reading Group Choices Newsletter I received this week, I read a fascinating story about a World Book Day survey that found that "two-thirds of people lied about reading books they have in fact not read". What I found the most interesting was that when they were asked why they had lied about reading a book they said that the main reason was "to impress the person they were speaking to".

These are the top ten titles that that those who lied had claimed to have read:

1. 1984 - George Orwell

2. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

3. Ulysses - James Joyce

4. The Bible

5. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

6. A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking

7. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

8. In Remembrance of Things Past - Marcel Proust

9. Dreams from My Father - Barack Obama

10. The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins

Personally, I wouldn't lie about reading a book to impress someone. For me, I feel like I've missed out on something having not read some of the all time classics earlier. I didn't read Pride & Prejudice or Jane Eyre until I was in my 30's. I realized that I had definitely missed out on not reading them in my younger years. Although, I may have a certain appreciation and perspective having read them at that time in my life. I'm trying to "catch up" on all of the classic literature that I haven't read and interests me. That's the beauty of the book blogging community for me as I've been reminded of all of the wonderful books that I want to read.

It looks like it's an honor system, unless someone really blows their cover...will we ever really know?!


  1. Interesting.. yet not too surprising... I think the motive is kind of funny though.. You know my humanities professor told me that Everyone owed it to themselves to read War and Peace. I bought it.. many years ago and my translation had a lot of French. And I can decipher French... but It was a flop for me to read. Over my head, perhaps... It is still by my bed side .. I am sure I will give it another go but I am not too proud to say I just didn't make it. :)

  2. Oh, this is fun!

    OK... Here's your list:

    1. 1984 - George Orwell - READ IT... REALLY!

    2. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy - NOPE

    3. Ulysses - James Joyce - HAVE IT TO READ IN MY TBR. READ IN H. SCHOOL


    5. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert - REALLY.. I READ THIS!

    6. A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking NOPE

    7. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie NOPE

    8. In Remembrance of Things Past - Marcel Proust NOPE

    9. Dreams from My Father - Barack Obama NOPE

    10. The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins NOPE

  3. Bonnie, what an interesting post! I'm with you - I've never lied about having read a book and I doubt that I would. I just don't see the point.

    From your list, I've read 1984. Had to in high school. I got a good grade for my review and analysis of the book, but I hated every minute. Ugh.

    I've also read the Bible - all the way through a few times. And I still study it, although I'll admit not quite as hungrily as I did when I got started in 1993.

    These days, I mostly read for entertainment. Life gets kind of stressful for me, and that's when I turn to those cozy mysteries and other "lighthearted" kinds of things. But occasionally, I do get lost in an epic or a classic.

    Perhaps one of my favorite authors of all time is Daphne DuMaurier - I've read almost all of her books, and among them, Rebecca remains my all-time favorite. That's about as close to a "classic" as I can handle these days!

  4. Why would anyone lie about what they read???? How foolish would you look when you ran into someone who actually had read the book and asked you a question that you could not even begin to answer!! I've read the Bible once...over a full year doing a Bible study. I have Obama's book but haven't read it yet. The others don't even appeal to me!! Love this post Bonnie!!

  5. How about that. I haven't lied about reading a book, I think I've read enough other books that it all kind of evens out. On your list the only books I've read are 1984 and the Bible. The only other ones on your list that I might try some time are War and Peace, maybe, and Madam Bovary.

  6. Hmmm, not sure why anyone would like about what they've read. I couldn't do it anyway.

    I've only read on that list 1984, Madame Bovary.

    I'm still working my way through The Bible although I've read lots of it.

    War and Peace is on my shelf-have you seen the size of that one! lol. Midnight's Children is also on my shelf and one day I'd love to tackle Ulysses.

  7. I agree with the others, it just doesn't make sense to lie about what you've read, because eventually you would run into someone who would know you were lying. Not to mention that I'm terrible at lying, so I could never get away with it anyway (and wouldn't want to in the first place).

    I've only read three books on the list. The Bible, 1984 (read it last year), and War and Peace (read it during a month of bedrest). We own the Stephen Hawking book - my husband has read it, but I haven't.

  8. I'm laughing because, like Toni, I haven't read WAR AND PEACE, and I'm not too proud to admit it! I tried about two years ago with a local library-based book group, and it just didn't click for me ... maybe another time.

    Yes, I'm sure some people lie about which books they've read ... odd, isn't it?!

    The only book on the list that I've read cover-to-cover is 1984. Haven't read the Bible all the way thru, and haven't attempted any of the others yet (!). DREAMS OF MY FATHER is on my bookcase, yet unread.

  9. Great post Bonnie.. I had to come back to see what others had to say. ;)

  10. I have heard this before and don´t really get it.

    I have read the Bible from cover to cover, but not any of the others. And it doesn´t even make me blush.

  11. I've never lied about reading a book to impress someone but I do have to admit that I lied about finishing a book when I was in high school.

  12. I've read 1984, Madame Bovary and Dreams From My Father but the rest.. nope.

    I would never lie about reading a book. I've been tempted a few times when I've hated a book club book but really, what would be the point?

    If people lie to impress, they risk the chance of being made a complete fool when someone challenges them on it.

    Interesting article though.

  13. The only person someone who lies hurts is him or herself. They are the ones who have missed out on some great books!
    What have I read on the list?
    1. 1984 - George Orwell - Parts of it.
    2. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy - No
    3. Ulysses - James Joyce - No.
    4. The Bible - Many times from cover to cover.
    5. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert - Yes
    6. A Brief History of Time - Stephen Hawking - No.
    7. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie - No
    8. In Remembrance of Things Past - Marcel Proust - No
    9. Dreams from My Father - Barack Obama -- No
    10. The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins - No
    I wonder why these are the books they picked? I can think of many others that would impress someone more!

  14. You are so right.I have come across collegues who brag having read so n so book in front of seniors just to impress them and if a discussion starts on that book ,then the expression on their faces is worth a watch ;)

  15. O.K. So I've really read 3 out of the 10. One was completely over my head and I don't remember any of it. Scenes from the other two have really stuck with me: 1984 and MADAME BOVARY. I gave up being an English major so I would never have to read ULYSSES. And that's the truth.

  16. I can honestly say that I've read 1, 3 and 5 and parts of the Bible. I would never lie about reading a book unless it was for an assignment in school - and that, sadly enough, was a long time ago.

    In the case of Obama's book, I'd be more impressed if someone admitted to not reading the book. It's every where.

  17. What a funny list--I haven't heard of The Selfish Game, but I'll be sure to pick it up. The only one I've read from the list is Midnight's Children and I dont know why people would lie and say they've read it (no really--I am telling the truth!!). :)


Thanks for visiting and sharing a comment!