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More than half of us lie about reading classic novels

More than half of us lie about reading classic novels

Monday 09 September 2013

A new study shows that 62 per cent of us pretend to have read classic novels in order to appear more intelligent.

In a bid to appear more intelligent, more than 60 per cent of people have lied about reading classic novels. A leading research team polled 2,000 members of the British public to find out the tactics people employ to appear more intelligent, with some enlightening results. The most popular ruse is pretending to have read classic novels, with 42 per cent of people relying on film and TV adaptations, or summaries found online, to feign knowledge of the novels. Surprisingly, half of the adults questioned admit to having displayed books on their shelves without ever having read them.

The more dedicated members of the surveyed group (three per cent) even admit to hiding the low brow magazines and books they are reading inside publications which make them appear more intelligent.

The top ten books people claim to have read, but haven't, are: 1984 by George Orwell – 26% War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – 19% Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – 18% Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger – 15% A Passage to India by E M Forster – 12% Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein – 11% To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 10% Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – 8% Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – 8% Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – 5%

Titles that just missed the cut are The Bible (3%), Homer’s Odyssey (3%) and Wuthering Heights (2%).

Other tactics employed by people to make themselves appear smarter include changing their appearance, correcting other people's grammar, dropping famous quotes into conversation and claiming a higher level of fluency in a foreign language.

The survey even found some regional differences among respondents. Those in the South West and West Midlands are the most likely to pretend they have read books that they haven't. While those residing in the North East are most likely to correct other people's grammar. However, they are also more likely to be lying about their own academic achievements, with 19 per cent inventing attainment levels compared with the national average of just 14 per cent.


  1. Telegraph:
    Reading Classic Novels.


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