Books everyone says they’ve read but haven’t (to actually read in lockdown)

Written by Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

How many can you (truthfully) tick off this list?

There’s nothing we love more than curling up with a good book, and the coronavirus lockdown has given us plenty of time to do so. Indeed, when we’re not binge-watching Netflix shows, baking banana bread, or mindlessly filling in personality tests (we’re fond of this cheese quiz, in particular), we’re working our way through our reading lists.

For those who fancy a challenge, though, we recommend turning your attention to the books everyone lies about reading.

A study of the reading habits of 2,000 Britons commissioned by the BBC Store found that one in four bluffed about reading a classic when a TV adaptation of it was shown, with the most popular reasons being not wanting to miss out on the conversation and wanting to appear more intelligent.

And that’s something Stylist’s Hollie Richardson can definitely relate to.

“If I’m in a group and they’re all talking about a book I feel I should have read, it’s unlikely that I’ll stop them and ‘fess up,” she says. “I guess it’s the initial ‘oh my god you haven’t read it?’ reaction that makes me feel like I’m stupid or lazy for not reading it.”

Stylist’s Megan Murray 100% agrees. 

“I can’t remember lying about reading one specific book,” she tells me. “However, working in publishing alongside some of the most intelligent and well-read women you can imagine, I have to put my hands and admit that I have nodded and smiled along MANY TIMES when they’ve waxed lyrical about a cult title everyone is reading.

“I might not have openly bullshitted as such, but I’ve definitely not corrected people when they’ve assumed I will have read it because I’ve wanted to look as accomplished and on the pulse as them. Very silly and quite embarrassing I know, but there we are.”

Even this writer, who has an actual English Literature BA under her belt, has felt the need to smile blithely and nod along when people around her start losing their minds over a certain book. She also remembers a lecture where she confidently began talking about A Christmas Carol’s Jacob and Robert Marley, only to learn that the Muppets movie had added in the latter character. 

Yeah. Charles Dickens had only ever written in one Marley ghost. Awkward.

With that in mind, then, here’s the 20 books everyone is most likely to pretend to have read:

  1. Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland – Lewis Carroll
  2. 1984 – George Orwell
  3. The Lord Of The Rings trilogy – JRR Tolkien
  4. War And Peace – Leo Tolstoy
  5. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
  6. The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle
  7. To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  8. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
  9. Crime And Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  10. Pride And Prejudice – Jane Austen
  11. Bleak House – Charles Dickens
  12. Harry Potter (series) – JK Rowling
  13. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens
  14. The Diary Of Anne Frank – Anne Frank
  15. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
  16. Fifty Shades trilogy – EL James
  17. And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie
  18. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
  19. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
  20. The Catcher In The Rye – JD Salinger

Confession time? There are seven titles on the list that I have yet to tick off, so I’ll be using the remainder of the coronavirus lockdown to… ahem… rectify that issue (please, nobody tell my lecturers).

It’s worth noting that many of these titles are currently free to download on Audible, making it even easier to catch up.

With that in mind, then, how many have you read? And will you be tackling any of these books in lockdown? 

Let us know over on Twitter using our @StylistMagazine handle now.

Main image: Mohamad Zaheri on Unsplash

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