This is sordid old news to the more surfy crowd, but according to a recent UK-centric survey, two-thirds of us have claimed to read a book they, um, have not. What’s the point of trying so hard to impress on false pretences? I’d feel more stressed with keeping up a tangled web than with feeling a bit out of it. Way too many books for a lifetime, anyway. Let the pages fall where they may.
The annotated list of the top ten claimed-but-unread books:
- 1984 by George Orwell (42%)
Been there, done that. Recommended with a heartfelt tsk, but as the late Neil Postman opined, it’s Aldous Huxley’s nightmare of a society pleasuring itself to death in Brave New World that more aptly describes these times.
- War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (31%)
Maybe never, but never say never. Wait … I think I have it back in Singapore, so scratch that and make it someday when I’m older.
- Ulysses by James Joyce (25%)
Woah, not now; I intend this for middle age, if I get there.
- The Bible (24%)
Project ongoing — did it once through when I was a yoof, but of course that wouldn’t qualify as plumbing depths or traversing breadths of any kind.
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (16%)
Is moulting at home — will get round to it when I can stomach the emotional better. Or will this help me to? Bleargh.
- A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (15%)
There’s actually a children’s version of this … anyway, this was skimmed by me in yoof, I think. But Feynman was much more inspiring. A few fond memories of the cross-faculty module “Great Ideas in Contemporary Physics” remain.
- Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie (14%)
I remember this was championed by a wannamaker in lit class once … a badge of pride to have read a thick book, maybe? But the premise is indeed interesting, so I have my copy at the ready — long queue though.
- In Remembrance of Things Past by Marcel Proust (9%)
Why the heck did I buy this set … anyway, Proust is a bit ruined for me by that highly inflamed book by Roald Dahl. Bleargh!
- Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama (6%)
This is definitely on my reading list. Long, long list, but I think this one’s getting a jump.
- The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins (6%)
I am selfishly uninterested in this or any of Dawkins’s works. C’est ma vie.
People have got to give themselves a break from the game.