The next time someone references War and Peace, take it with a pinch of salt.
More than half of us (56%) pretend to have read a book, a new nationwide study has revealed. And the book most commonly fibbed about is the Bible, with almost one in eight of us (12%) claiming incorrectly to have read it cover to cover.
The second-most lied about book is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (10%), while the same percentage of us say we’ve read William Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo And Juliet, according to research commissioned to mark the live broadcast on Sky Arts of The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival.
War And Peace – Russian author Leo Tolstoy’s 1,125-page novel – also falls into the top 10, in eighth place.
As for why they pretend to read certain books, 37% claimed they simply wanted to join in a conversation, while 31% said they did so to seem more intelligent and 17% were trying to impress a date.
The top 20 books British people pretend to read
1. The Bible 12%
2. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee 10%
3. Romeo And Juliet by William Shakespeare 10%
4. 1984 by George Orwell 9%
5. Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen 8%
6. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens 7%
7. Moby-Dick by Herman Melville 7%
8. War And Peace by Leo Tolstoy 6%
9. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson 6%
10. The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain 5%
11. A Brief History Of Time by Steven Hawking 5%
12. Crime And Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky 5%
13. The Odyssey by Homer 5%
14. The Old Man And The Sea by Ernest Hemingway 4%
15. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov 4%
16. Ulysses by James Joyce 4%
17. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell 3%
18. Sapiens: A Brief History Of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari 3%
19. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath 3%
20. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand 2%
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But how about the books people actually are reading? Earlier this year, the British Library shared the most borrowed books in London.
Children’s literature made up a great part of this list, including Diary Of A Wimpy Kid and Theory Test For Car Drivers. Meanwhile, Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale came fourth on the list.