Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oh, Yes, and I Know Mr. Tolkien Personally

Who in the hell thought up this survey? According to the UK’s Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA), “a third of British adults have lied about reading a book to appear more intelligent.” What’s more,

A cunning 33 per cent of adults have confessed to reading challenging literature to appear well-read, when in fact they haven’t a clue what the book is about.

But 40 per cent of people said they lied about reading certain books just so they could join in with conversation.

One in ten men said they would fib about reading a certain book to impress the opposite sex ...
Now, I can certainly see that last part being true. (If a beautiful woman walks up to me and asks whether I’ve read her favorite book--be it Anna Karenina, The Kite Runner, or Best Lesbian Erotica 2007--I am likely to say “yes,” if only to prevent her from scurrying off to the company of another bewildered bloke.) But I find it humorous to see the MLA’s list of 10 books Brits are most prone to lie about reading:
1. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R Tolkien
2. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy
3. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
4. Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, by John Gray
5. 1984, by George Orwell
6. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by J.K Rowling
7. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
8. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
9. The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown
10. Diary of Anne Frank, by Anne Frank
If necessary, I’d have to lie about having read four of those. But I’d never lie about reading The Da Vinci Code: I couldn’t make it past that novel’s first 100 pages, so bored was I with the shallow characters and so disinterested was I in the religious basis of the plot. And, personally, I would be more prone to fib about having read Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, or James Joyce’s Ulysses, or Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood (I only ever saw the movie), or a dozen other novels on The Modern Library’s “100 Best” list before I’d spout off about having poured over Men Are from Mars … etc.

But let’s do our own survey here: Which books have you lied about reading, at one time or another? And what were the circumstances?


Blogger Linda L. Richards said...

Great piece! Though for some reason I feel sort of funny about admitting I've read everything on the list -- several of them more than once -- except for the John Gray.

And I can't imagine saying I'd read a book that I hadn't. What if someone asked a skilltesting question?

Wednesday, January 31, 2007 1:04:00 AM PST  

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