Under the cover of an anonymous questionnaire, two-thirds of people admitted to fibbing about having read a book.
Surprisingly, given its brevity and pace, 1984 heads the top 10 list of books we falsely claim to have read.
The rest of the list is largely predictable, stuffed full of weighty volumes most have seen dramatised on television but not read line by endless line.
Besides War and Peace and Ulysses — which can both exceed 1,000 pages depending on edition — other unread works include the Bible, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert and A Brief History of Time, by Professor Stephen Hawking.Many also bluffed about reading classics by the likes of Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and the Brontë sisters.
And why did all those people lie? In some cases, it was to make themselves appear hotter:
He concluded it all boiled down to sex.
He said: “Research that we have done suggests that the reason people lied was to make themselves appear more sexually attractive.”
Pop star Jarvis Cocker lied about having read Tess of the D’Urbervilles in his Oxford University admissions interivew. (It didn’t help.) Filmmaker Stephen Frears says he doesn’t think he “read Ulysses to the end, but I can’t remember if I actually lied about that one.” The poet Benjamin Zephaniah denies lying about what he’s read. “If I’m asked about a book I don’t just want to say yes or no, I want to discuss it so to me there’s no point in lying.”