ETA: That title was totally on purpose.
To be fair the survey was only for Brits, but I can't see it being much different elsewhere, for the most part. It's hardly surprising in and of itself, but the numbers are pretty high.
The most popular ruse is pretending to have read classic novels, with 42 per cent of people relying on film and TV adaptations, or summaries found online, to feign knowledge of the novels. Surprisingly, half of the adults questioned admit to having displayed books on their shelves without ever having read them.
The examples used:
1984 by George Orwell – 26%
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy – 19%
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens – 18%
Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger – 15%
A Passage to India by E M Forster – 12%
Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkein – 11%
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 10%
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky – 8%
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – 8%
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë – 5%
Of those I've personally read 1984, Great Expectations, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Catcher in the Rye, although only the last one was non-school related. Really though, beyond school-required stuff, I'm pretty woefully under-read on "the classics", James Joyce being one of the few exceptions. The inclusion of Lord of the Rings was kinda surprising to me (though, I know there have been times where I've said I read LOTR, which is somewhat of a fib -- I've read many separate sections of the series on various occasions, but never straight through. I've almost certainly read The Silmarillion more than LOTR).
I suppose the bright side is that there's some cultural pressure to at least appear well-read?
Edited by Francis Buck, 07 September 2013 - 05:39 PM.