Friday, January 26, 2007

Liar! Liar! Books on Fire!

Cast your eyes down this list and tell me, how many of the books on it have you read?
1. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien
2. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
3. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
4. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – John Gray
5. 1984 – George Orwell
6. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone – J.K Rowling
7. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
8. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
9. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
10. Diary of Anne Frank – Anne Frank

Or were you just bluffing to impress me?

According to a poll of over 4000 bookworms conducted by the Museums, Libraries and Archive Council (MLA), a third of British adults have lied about reading a book to appear more intelligent according to a new survey.

The poll revealed that:
40 per cent of people said they lied about reading certain books just so they could join in with conversation. ... Most people expand on their literary repertoire to impress a new date, 15 per cent have lied about the books they have read to a new colleague and five per cent have told porkies about their reading habits to their employer.
As Head of Library Policy, John Dolan, says:
It’s fascinating to see that so many people are trying to impress others with the books they haven’t actually read.
And the top ten above lists the books the Brits most often lie about.

Malaysians of course don't lie about reading books they haven't read ... even if it would be professionally expedient for them to do so!

Or do they?


FBT said...

All of them, except the Da Vinci Code. I would think most people would lie that they *hadn't* read the Da Vinci Code, when they actually had, if they were trying to impress.

sympozium said...

I happily and proudly admit to NOT having read Men are From Mars..!

Never read Diary of Anne Frank. Can't take another Brigid Jones clone - well past the edge of reason!

Sufian said...

I've only read 1984. The rest are rubbish.

Glenda Larke said...

The only one I haven't read is the Men are from Mars one. I can even say that I have read several of them a couple of times, inclusing War and Peace. And yes, I am very tempted to say I haven't read the Da Vinci Code!!

Anne Frank? A Bridget Jones clone? Sympozium, I hope that wasn't what you meant. If you did, then I think you had better get hold of it. Because I am shattered that you have not at least heard of her, let alone know what she represents, let alone read the beauty of the words she wrote while trapped in hell. I cannot think of a single book that stands more in contrast to Bridget Jones, or that would make the latter book seem more frivolous and trivial. (And that's even though, yeah, I did enjoy Bridget.)

Ted Mahsun said...

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus is the best science-fiction I've ever read.

1984 is rubbish. For a more enjoyable dystopic fiction, try reading the National Education Blueprint 2006-2010.

I know this because I've read all the books on the list front-to-back, back-to-front. Twice.

Chet said...

Glenda - I was about to pose the same question to symposium!

From the list, I am definitely sure I have read Jane Eyre, The Da Vinci Code, and Diary of Anne Frank. I think I have read 1984 and Wuthering Heights (for sure I watched the Timothy Dalton movie version and thought he was the perfect Heathcliff). I tried to read Great Expectations, it was a book on one of my English Lit courses in college, but don't think I finished. The rest I have not, but I have at least heard of them.

Subashini said...

i haven't read the ones by john gray, dan brown, and tolstoy. yes, it's very sad to see tolstoy lumped in there with those two!

i probably would've succumbed and read the da vinci code because of course i am curious about the hype, but what prevented me was every tom, dick, harry, jane, meena, and aminah, muthusamy, abu... you get the picture :) informing me that i have to read it.

i don't think jane eyre or great expectations were "rubbish"...

acid burn said...

Tolkien, Orwell, Rowling, Bronte, Brown, Frank. Probably abridged versions of Bronte and Dickens when I was much younger.
Crap to classics - I can't possibly be lying! =]

sympozium said...

"Dear Diary - lost another 2.5 pounds this week. This Trapped-In-A-Secret-Room-Diet is really working wonders. Would love a glass of chardonnay though." Anne.

Sufian said...

Hi Subashini,

Of course Great Expectation and Jane Eyre are rubbish (and Tolkien, God Help Me, if that isn't the mother of all rubbish). Why else haven't I read them, then?

Janet said...

Still don't understand why people lie to impress other people, and least of all by talking about a book they haven't read! I'd be ashamed to even admit that I had a glance at Men are from Mars (but light years ago when I was young and foolish). Also read Diary of Anne Frank in teens, not bad but probably wouldn't pick it up again (Holocaust is so passe) Read Bronte, Dickens. Tolkien too thick (I mean the book). Tolstoy (same reason but would love to say I've read it though).1984 collecting dust on the bookshelf and Harry Potter does not count as literature to me! How could people pretend they read Harry Potter to impress anyone, who? Children? Da Vinci Code (same reason as Harry Potter)

Jen said...

I haven't read 1984 or Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. I slogged through War and Peace but remember absolutely nothing. I loved the other books with varying degrees of affection.
Sympozium: Do read Anne Frank. My copy of Diary of Anne Frank is somewhat tattered. I read it first as a teenager, when I treated it much like I would have treated Bridget Jones' Diary. It wasn't until I was much older and could imagine the context - the claustrophobia of being stuck in the same house for years, with the same people, no tv or internet (!), radio only at night, no showers, no privacy, no going outside, the unrelenting fear of being caught and sent to death - that I fully appreciated the descriptions of Brussels sprouts and skinning peas and too short dresses and obsession with royal genealogy. She spoke to me when I was a teen - this was a girl with dreams and hopes much like me and other girls, after all - and she spoke to me again as an adult - when the tragedy of what could have been and what did happen really hit me in the face.
I think you may change your mind about The Diary of Anne Frank once you've actually read it. Trust me when I say it's no Bridget Jones' Diary (although I haven't actually read this one ... but I have watched the movie :) )

Lydia Teh said...

Read four in the list including Anne Frank. How can Anne Frank be likened to a Bridget Jones clone? Excuse my ignorance but you mean Bridget was written before Anne's diary? I must go stand in front of my open fridge to cool down - Anne Frank chick lit??!! Now where's that tub of ice when you need it?

Glenda Larke said...

Ok Sympozium. After I posted, I thought, uh-uh, the guy's being clever and I'm being dumb.

As is Ted above about Mars. Clever, I mean.

*Hits forehead with palm*

lil ms d said...

Seven of them! I fell asleep reading Tolkien. War and Peace scared me. Da Vinci Code.

Yes yes I hang my head in shame. I read Men are From Mars. Hahahahahaha!

sympozium said...

Glenda - :-))))))) Can't believe the reactions though!

Burhan said...

Only 1984, a looooooong time ago, and the Diary of Anne Frank, which I must must reread this year. Saw a play adapted from the diary, which i didn't like even when it had Natalie Portman.

Started on War and Peace, once, but I don't have the stamina to read too many long novels - at most only two a year. Still, I saw the Russian movie adaptation, but the American adaptation was kewler because it had Audrey Hepburn.

Of course, I also saw the LOTR, Wuthering Heights (Larry Olivier), and the Da Vinci code movies, and, if memory serves me correct, a cartoon of Great Expectations.

In America, guys say they've read Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, and the Brontes to impress girls.

Greenbottle said...

Read The Lord of the Rings (TWICE)
Wuthering Heights
Jane Eyre

and , fuck harry potter and da vinci code

Miao said...

Why would anybody want to lie about having read any of the Harry Potter books? They don't have any literary value and they certainly aren't as erudite or intelligent as Dan Brown's books, so there is definitely no shame in not having read them.

And I think Angels and Demons is much more brilliant than The Da Vinci Code, though the latter is already very brilliant.

starlight said...

1. Diary of Anne Frank - way back in school
2. Harry Potter - how could I not?
3. Lord of The Rings - a monumental achievement at the age of 13
4. Men are From Mars... - I don't see why people have to hurriedly insist that they're ashamed about reading this book. During a turbulent relationship, it showed me that I'm not crazy at all and helped me put him in his place. :)
5. Jane Eyre

janet said...

Guys in America say that they read Austen & Bronte to impress girls?? That's a first. Why don't they just do daredevil motorcycle stunts like the good ol' days? ;)

YTSL said...

I've read the following from the supplied list:-
3. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
5. 1984 – George Orwell
6. Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone – J.K Rowling
8. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
9. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
10. Diary of Anne Frank – Anne Frank

Tried reading the following but couldn't make it past a few pages:-
1. The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien
2. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
7. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

Have had little inclination to try reading the following:-
4. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus – John Gray

dreamer idiot said...

National Education BLueprint a far worse dystopia than 1984? Hahaha... Ted Mahsun, u have a great sense of humour.

I confess I haven't read Jane Eyre, War and Peace or LOTR.

Wuthering Heights is one of my favorites. Anne Frank is both beautiful and achingly sad, still resonates in our times with the horrors and human tragedy of war-torn/conflict zones (so sad).


1.Lord of the Rings:- Read it when I was 12 and was intrigued that the Elvish princess, Arwen, was more than 2000 years old when she met Aragorn!

2. War and Peace:- Read it in English and in Russian! Definitely one of the greats!

3. Wuthering Heights:- An ok read

4. Great Expectations:- Read it in school and acted the part of Estella in a school play

5. The Da Vinci Code:- crap ad nauseum!

6. Diary of Anne Frank:- Made me cry

7. Jane Eyre:- Read it in school for the English Lit class

bibliobibuli said...

i was offline till just now (my streamyx is done more than it's up!) and couldn't believe the enthusiasm generated by this list of books.

you guys ARE very honest

i've read 'em all except tolstoy which i will read one day ... honestly

i actually found men are from mars interesting. gray is wrong about women being the naggers though, from my experience. and i think most of the men i meet aren't from mars at all but from the third moon of pluto.

symp - you got 'em all good and wound up. well done.

young ted - brilliantly witty today ;-D

animah said...

Do you really think they are honest? Someone must have lied.
Oh, and I haven't read any of the books listed.

Ooops, think I need a nose job.

sympozium said...

Well, I'm having great problems trying to finish the other Tolstoy - Anna Karenina...soooo dull!!!!

bibliobibuli said...

i loves anna karenina ... read it twice

i will blab to the world you read da vinci code, animah. you were there the night of "the jesuits", weren't you????

riz said...

What have I read.....

1. LOTR.... tried, didn't even pass chapter one. too thick
2. War and Peace...... too thick
3. Wuthering Heights..... no comment
4. men are from mars..... hmmmm
5. 1984...... was that a good year
6. Harry potter...... nope
7. great expectations...... suprisingly, I read this one and almost all of dickens writings.
8. Jane Eyre..... another miss for me.
9. Da Vinci Code...... again, a NO
10. Diary...... I don't read or write diaries.


Jordan said...

My 11th-grade English teacher tried to get the class to read War and Peace, but we revolted. Ended up reading Crime and Punishment instead.

My shelves back home were stocked with books I hadn't actually read. These days I don't care who I impress.

Only one on that list I've actually read was the DaVinci Code.

Giant Sotong said...

LOTR was the only one on the list I've read - twice - and got lost. I might as well have been reading the Voynich Manuscript.

Thank goodness for the movie 8-)

irene said...

LOTR - too thick, and then the movie came out and everybody was talking about it, and that put me off. (I didn't watch the movie till much later, and still don't see what all the fuss is about.)

Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre - the abridged versions, during schooldays.

Men are from Mars - vaguely remember reading portions of it.

The Da Vinci Code - too many people talking about it. (Please refer to LOTR)

Diary of Anne Frank - I have the book and have intended to read it for the longest time but haven't gotten down to it!

1984 - know what it's about but doubt I've ever read it. If I have, I don't remember.

Harry Potter - haven't read any of the Harry Potter books and couldn't care less about any of them.

Great Expectations - Feel guilty for never having read any of Dickens' work, but have never tried to read this. I might even own a copy of it! (not sure whether I do or not)

War and Peace - have always had the impression that this is beyond me, so have never picked it up in a bookstore even just to browse.

jen said...

sympozium: haha ... I totally fell for it ... :)
*slaps forehead

Lydia Teh said...

sympozium, I see that my clueless twin has been here. I'm going to give her such a bashing for making me look bad here.

Xeus said...

Oh dear, I have read almost every book on that list! Does that make me very low-lit? (I admit to skipping large portions of War and Peace to get to the good parts.)

Yvonne Foong said...

uh... i've not read any harry potter or LOTR. have you?

sympozium said...

Hahahaha! Glad to liven things up bit... :-)

lainieyeoh said...

...hmm. the only one i haven't read is men are from mars, too.
i'm not sure how someone appears more intelligent from reading some of these books -- perhaps more...well read, and in tune with book trends? implications, certainly, but it's not impressive to have read a few of these at all.

then again, i suppose it would be difficult for one to impress with a little known book, after all, on whose merit do we sell the intelligence behind what we read to the masses, without all the 'recognition' the books on this list have?

the only reason i read classics was cause it said 'classics' and i wanted to find out why, and they were the cheapest in the bookstore and unavailable in the bookrent store i used to go to.

Encaitar said...

The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R Tolkien
Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown

So far, only the above three. Would read the rest if I got the time for it.

bibliobibuli said...

xeus - not high, nopt low, but certainly in the conversation

i guess lanie it's not so much to impress intellectually as to show that you're part of the same conversation as everyone else. i guess there are guys who would pretend to have read men are from mars to impress a girlfriend that they are clued up about relationships ...

yvonne - loved both harry potter and LOTR.

encaitar - don't take this as a must-read reading list! it's just what would help you in conversation if you were in the UK

Mag said...

LOTR, Harry Potter, The Da Vinci Code and Anne Frank. Would like to pick up Great Expectations when I have the time and moolah!!

namra said...

1. Read it, with three times attempt (what can I say, there were parts in the book that was dragging)

There is only number 1.

darkhello said...

Wheee...what a lovely lovely list of books! I love almost all the books there and have read all of them except Tolstoy's 3 volumes..cause well, it is pretty heady stuff..

My favourites out of the list are 1984, the Diary of Anne Frank and Lord of the Rings. I don't really get the act of lying about a book you've read or just merely skimming through the synopsis (or worse still, CLIFFNOTES!). It's not what's in the book that makes one intelligent, it's how one interpretes the pathos of the situation and the character development in it that reveals one's maturity of thought.

I think 1984 is the most exceptional book ever! The enormity of it just hits you in the face and leaves you stunned in your chair after you read it thanks to Orwell's great depiction and re-creation of the Hitler despotism era. Oh, and the inclusion of Newspeak in it is just so amusing! Makes one go around saying things like 'prolefeed' and 'ungood', haha.

bibliobibuli said...

darkhello - agree with you about 1984. required reading.

Sufian said...


If you think 1984 is required reading, maybe you want to read the 'original' 1984 - We by Евге́ний Ива́нович Замя́тин

Sufian said...

Oh, here's the link:


Anonymous said...

It has occured to me that Malaysians are almost painfully honest. I've seen so many people post with their real names on, and those are fairly controversial comments. I think by and large, honesty seems to be a very Malaysian thing. They just don't lie.

I read No. 10 in school, it was a great book which I heartily recommend to all adolescents. I also recommend Sue Townsend's "The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole" which I also read in school. When you're that age, you really identify with these people.

I have to say I've not read the rest though, only because I couldn't find them. I tried to read LOTR but wow, the pace was so slow. I've since had someone tell me I should read The Hobbit first, but I can't find it anywhere.

Hm, from this straw poll it would seem that people here like Dickens too :) I'm seriously enjoying "Hard Times" :)