29 April, 2014

Telling Porkies

Last September The Guardian reported on a survey revealing which books people most often lie about having read. The number one most lied-about book is 1984 by George Orwell, followed by War and Peace and Great Expectations.

Have you ever lied about having read a book? I can't see many people lying about this sort of thing in a social situation. After all, there are so many books in the world I would never be particularly horrified by anyone not having read any one particular book. But perhaps the lying occurs in more formal situations. I know one of my school friends said he'd read War and Peace on his univeristy application form, when he hadn't. A risky strategy! I'm also sure that many people did not strictly read all our GCSE English texts from cover to cover. However, perhaps there are other reasons people feel the need to say they've read a certain book that I've failed to think of. Can you think of a good reason?

For the record I have actually read nine of the 10 most lied-about books - only A Passage to India has so far eluded me. It's up to you to decide whether or not I'm telling the truth... Take a look at the news article and tell me (truthfully!) how many you've read.


8 comments:

  1. I've read 6/10 (1, 3, 6, 7, 9, 10) but it would never occur to me to lie about having read the other four... I think there's sometimes a blurred line between having read and having started a book though - some would count that as a lie, others would say it depends on how much you read and still others would probably say that if you've read the first chapter then that's surely enough!

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    1. I think there is also a blurred line when it comes to audio books. If they are unabridged then they should count as having been read, but it feels like cheating somehow!

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  2. I've read 9 of those books. I didn't read Lord of the Rings (although I always mean to). Many of them were required reading for me in college, or I might have not tried them, but I did get hooked on the Russian writers after reading War and Peace and Crime and Punishment, and Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice have been favorites of mine through the years. Like you, though, I can't imagine lying about reading a book. That seems kinda pitiful. The only reason I can think of that someone would want to is if they were trying to impress someone they felt was very literary--in which case, they'd do better to go read the book. :-)

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    1. I didn't think I'd like Russian literature but there were a few books on the BBC Top 100 so I had to read them. Didn't like Anna Karenina, War and Peace was OK, but I loved Crime and Punishment.

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  3. I don't think I've lied about reading books, and will step up and admit it freely. Harry Potter? Nope--never read it. But I will someday. :)


    1 1984 by George Orwell: Yes
    2 War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: Yes. The abridged version
    3 Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: Yes
    4 The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger: Yes
    5 A Passage to India by EM Forster: No
    6 Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien: Just the first book
    7 To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee: Yes
    8 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky: Yes
    9 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: I honestly don't remember. Maybe in high school
    10 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: Not yet, but I have the book.

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    1. That's not a bad selection! Which is your favourite?

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  4. 1 1984 by George Orwell: No
    2 War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy: No
    3 Great Expectations by Charles Dickens: I read two chapters when I was ten, then got bored. I have considered trying to read it properly.
    4 The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger: No, although I might do one day.
    5 A Passage to India by EM Forster: It took a few seconds for me to decide if I had heard of it, so clearly haven't read it!!! That's terrible.
    6 Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien: Yes, and for bonus points I have also read The Hobbit numerous times and recently The Silmarillion.
    7 To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee: I have read this twice, and liked it much better without my GCSE English teacher ruining it for me.
    8 Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky: No
    9 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: No
    10 Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: No

    I have no idea why people would lie about reading certain books to make themselves look more intelligent. Then again, I make no secret of the fact that I generally distrust books which "Everyone should read." The DaVinci code and - to a degree - the Harry Potter books taught me that. I prefer a book which someone has taken the time to recommend to me personally, rather than because it's popular or the thing to do. Perhaps I am fussy, but then again, if someone lied to me about reading a book I loved then they would wind up being involved in an intense conversation about said book. Too much risk, surely?

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    1. I agree - it is a risky strategy! I also agree that school can ruin a book by over analysis.

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