Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

The book everyone lies about reading to appear more intelligent (it's not War and Peace)

Reading in bed.JPG

Ever pretended to read a great work of literature when all you’ve done is watch it on TV? You’re not alone.

To celebrate their latest TV adaptation of War and Peace, the BBC has commissioned a survey of 2,000 Brits to find the most common literary fib – and, surprisingly, it’s not Leo Tolstoy’s epic.

Lewis Carroll’s children’s classic Alice In Wonderland was the tome most people lied about reading, followed by George Orwell’s 1984 and J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Tolstoy does make an appearance with War and Peace featuring in fourth place and Anna Karenina in fifth. Other books in the top 20 included Fifty Shades of Grey and The Diary Of Anne Frank.

Alice In Wonderland

Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures In Wonderland was the most lied-about book

Top 20 Lied About Books

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

1984 - George Orwell

The Lord Of The Rings trilogy - JRR Tolkien

War And Peace - Leo Tolstoy

Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee

David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

Crime And Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Pride And Prejudice - Jane Austen

Bleak House - Charles Dickens

Harry Potter (series) - JK Rowling

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

The Diary Of Anne Frank - Anne Frank

Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

Fifty Shades trilogy - EL James

And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie

The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

The Catcher In The Rye - JD Salinger

Fifty Shades of Grey

E.L James' novel Fifty Shades of Grey also featured on the list

The survey also found that there was a very simple reason for these little, white lies: they make us seem more intelligent, and subsequently more attractive.

While we might be willing to lie about reading acclaimed novels, the BBC found that TV adaptations still encourage viewers to go and out and read the original, with nearly half of those questioned saying that they would be more tempted to buy the book having watched a series.

The final episode of War And Peace airs on BBC One on Sunday February 7 at 9pm.


happiness balloon.jpg

This is the optimum age for happiness in the UK

val day.JPG

Making a Murderer-themed Valentine's cards are here


Gwyneth Paltrow says Chris Martin is like a “brother” to her


Bride surprises husband with genius secret inscription on wedding ring


George Clooney reveals his secret for a happy marriage


At last, Kate Winslet admits Rose let Jack die in Titanic

Cruel Intentions.jpg

Cruel Intentions is set to hit our screens again, 15 years on


Finally, science discovers why we get Resting Bitch Face

dad bod ken.jpg

Barbie's not the only one having a makeover: introducing dad-bod Ken



Harry Potter fans, there's a Roald Dahl collaboration in the works

Are you ready for a magical Willy Wonka prequel?

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Oct 2016

Sarah Jessica Parker is launching a new line of fiction books

She’s channelling her inner Carrie Bradshaw…

by Kayleigh Dray
20 Oct 2016

New Ladybird books for grown-ups are all our work woes

Old pics, new problems

by Anna Pollitt
18 Oct 2016

These are the UK’s favourite pearls of Winnie-the-Pooh wisdom

He’s far more than a bear of very little brain, you know.

by Moya Crockett
14 Oct 2016

Bridget Jones's author on life, love and the importance of friendship

“No one can have it all”

by Sarah Biddlecombe
12 Oct 2016

There's now going to be a Good Sex in Fiction award

“We have laughed enough”

by Amy Swales
12 Oct 2016

Meet the winner of Stylist’s gothic short story competition

The big short

by The Stylist web team
10 Oct 2016

9 important life lessons from cult feminist Instagram poet Rupi Kaur

Happy National Poetry Day.

by Moya Crockett
06 Oct 2016

Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz to star in adaptation of Disobedience

They will bring Naomi Alderman’s debut novel to life on the silver screen

by Kayleigh Dray
05 Oct 2016

Watch eerie trailer for Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events

We’re sorry to say that the trailer you’re about to watch is extremely unpleasant…

by Kayleigh Dray
05 Oct 2016