Brits exposed as a bunch of literary liars

People once said ‘you are what you eat’ but it appears the phrase has been hijacked by image-conscious Brits to state ‘you are what you read.’

So suggests new research from the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, which found almost half of people lie about their literary credentials.

Joining in conversation motivated 40% of people to fib about reading classics like Jane Eyre, while an equal number said they’ve cited such heavyweight novels to appear more intelligent.

So-called ‘book snobbery’ is most likely to come from adults aged 18-21, but these youngsters, ironically, are the likeliest to get caught out.

A tenth of men bluffed to a date they had read a heavyweight novel, while a lower yet significant number of adults did the same to impress an employer.

But the research found Britons even told lies to their peers so they could be thought of in a higher regard – evidenced by the 15% who admitted telling literary lies to work colleagues.

The book people are most likely to lie about reading is the bestselling Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien, followed by Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

John Dolan, of the council, said the results of the research, based in interviews with 4,000 adults, made for “fascinating” reading.

‘’Talking about books and literature is an obvious conversation starter and certain authors and titles often get strangers chatting,” he said.

“Some titles do have a certain kudos and it’s often nice to drop into conversation our knowledge of well-known writers and books.”

But it isn’t just English classics that Brits pretend they’ve conquered: some men said they have lied about reading Harry Potter to give the impression they’re in touch with the latest trends.

Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code also featured in the ‘top ten books we lie about reading,’ alongside John Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.


 

25th January 2007

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