>Susan Hill has a post up on her blog today about the books people most often lie about, at least according to a survey done in the UK by the Museums and Libraries Authority. Sometimes I think these surveys are pretty silly. (Hill does too, apparently.) Yet, I always find such lists curious. Why these books? What differences in the list would exist if another group did the survey, a different group was sampled?
Here is the list of the most ‘lied’ about books.
1. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien
I’ve read all of the Hobbit, all of the 1st book, and skimmed or read aloud the 2nd or 3rd books while helping my son with a school project in 5 grade (yes it was too ambitious for a 5th grader). Like root canal without anesthesia. The kid has read them all at least twice since. I’m thankful that I’ll never have to read them again!
2. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
I’ve tried. Haven’t made significant progress but it still sits in the current read stack where it’s been since July.
3. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
4. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – John Gray
Tried. Thought it was ridiculous. Restrained myself from throwing it across the room and told sibling that her future spouse was an idiot for making her read it She dumped him, but not on my advice.
5. 1984 – George Orwell
Yep. In Jr. High. Then in High School. Then in College. (A rather long period of fascination with dystopian literature). Then, of course, in 1984.
6. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone – J.K Rowling
Aloud on a long family road trip to the seashore. (I wasn’t driving….)
7. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
Never read any Dickens. I’ve thought about correcting that situation this year. Maybe I will.
8. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
I think I read it as an adolescent, but I don’t remember if I finished it. I’m so familiar with the plot that I really don’t know if I read it or not, I may just know it from discussions and watching various movie adaptations.
9. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
Ugh! (That’s a No.) Likely not to read it, based on negative reviews from people whose opinions matter to me. The Kid’s assessment: “It’s silly, but I was bored sitting in the airport. It’s junk food reading.”
10. Diary of Anne Frank – Anne Frank
Yes. Several times. Assisted with directing the play too when I taught h.s. eons ago.
I also haven’t read Joyce’s Ullysses. Or Proust. Or a lot of other works.
I’m not sure why anyone would lie about reading any of these books. I think sometimes non-readers think that seeing the movie is the same thing, confusing plot with the whole of the book. What is the motivation for lying about these? Who would be impressed that you had read Gray’s book or Brown’s? Might someone feel guilty that they hadn’t read these? Perhaps one might claim to have read them if pontificating about the relative merits of the book, but wouldn’t anyone who cared and had minimally functioning crap detector discover the truth quickly?
I’m sure that there are plenty of other books that people lie about reading. I was surprised that the Bible wasn’t on this list. I know very few people who have read the entire Bible — Hebrew and Christian Testaments — completely. I’m frequently skeptical when someone claims that they have, especially if they claim to have read the Apocrypha. Maybe I’m just cynical. I’ve read parts of it, am doubtful that I’ll ever read all of it.
I’d also add to this list Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. I heard or read this referred to as perhaps the most unread bestseller of all time. (Sorry can’t find the source right now.) I’ve tried to read it. The science was far beyond my comprehension and I just wasn’t that interested in it at the time. I’ve learned more about the theories in Hawking’s book since attempting to read it years ago, but I don’t know that I have the motivation to try to read it again. With some books, I think it is okay to have read a good synopsis or book review. There is one level of knowledge regarding theory that is sufficient for the lay person’s needs, without reading the original source materials. This book falls into that category for me, but I would never claim to have read it.
Have you read any of the above books? Which books do you think might be likely to appear on such a list?