Books We Lie About Reading

A recent survey by the BBC found that the book most people lied about reading was not Tolstoy's War and Peace, but Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

This was followed by George Orwell's 1984, and then J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (due to the movies, probably the easiest to lie about).

Yes, War and Peace came in fourth, followed by another Tolstoy tome, Anna Karenina, in fifth place.

The ranking may surprise you, but what is actually more intriguing is why we lie about reading at all.

The obvious answer is intellectual pride. We like to appear smarter, more informed and more well-read than we actually are. Saying we have read War and Peace is akin to saying you are, or at least feeling like you are, an intellectual.

It runs a risk, of course. When I was a boy I knew an insufferably arrogant person who had a habit of boasting about knowledge that I sensed they didn't really possess. In my own insufferably arrogant spirit I would ask them questions about their supposed knowledge that was based on fabrications.

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