Mumsnetters' reading habits: survey results

A survey into the reading habits of Mumsnet users has revealed that being caught reading Donald Trump's autobiography is slightly less embarrassing than being caught reading 50 Shades of Grey.

The results of the survey also revealed that 89% of respondents felt there was a book they felt that they should have read that they have not, and that the most widely read books were those in the Harry Potter series.


See the full survey results below


For each of these statements please say whether, on balance they are true or false for you

Answer options True  False
There is a book I've never read but feel I should have read 89% 11%
I've pretended to have read a book when, in fact, I haven't 20% 80%
I've been known to hide an easy-to-read novel inside the cover of a more literary novel in public 2% 98%
I've been known to hide an literary novel inside the cover of something easier to read in public
1% 99%


Which of these books have you read?

Answer options Response percent
Any of the Harry Potter series
73%
To Kill a Mockingbird 62%
Pride and Prejudice 61%
Jane Eyre 58%
1984 57%
The Hobbit 53%
Wuthering Heights 52%
Lord of the Flies 52%
Of Mice and Men 50%
Lord of the Rings 45%
Great Expectations 44%
The Catcher in the Rye 42%
Tess of the D'Urbervilles 40%
50 Shades of Grey 34%
White Teeth 27%
Anna Karenina 19%
Middlemarch 19%
Game of Thrones 18%
A Suitable Boy 17%
Wolf Hall 17%
War and Peace 15%
Crime and Punishment 15%
Moby Dick 14%
Les Miserables 10%
Ulysses 9%
Dr Zhivago 8%
Finnegan's Wake 3%
None of the above 2%


Which of these books haven't you read?

Answer options Response percent
War and Peace
38%
To Kill a Mockingbird 23%
Great Expectations 21%
Anna Karenina 18%
Wuthering Heights 18%
Pride and Prejudice 17%
The Catcher in the Rye
17%
Ulysses 16%
Moby Dick 16%
Crime and Punishment 16%
Of Mice and Men
16%
1984
15%
Lord of the Rings 13%
Jane Eyre 13%
Tess of the D'Urbervilles 13%
Lord of the Flies 12%
Wolf Hall 12%
Les Miserables 11%
Middlemarch
10%
Dr Zhivago
10%
Finnegan's Wake
7%
Game of Thrones
7%
Any of the Harry Potter series 
6%
A Suitable Boy
6%
The Hobbit 6%
White Teeth
6%
50 Shades of Grey
2%
None of the above
13%


Which of these books have you pretended to read when you haven't?

Answer options Response percent
Lord of the Rings  9%
Wuthering Heights 8%
War and Peace 8%
1984
7%
To Kill a Mockingbird
6%
Great Expectations
5%
Pride and Prejudice
5%
Of Mice and Men 4%
Ulysses
4%
The Hobbit 3%
Tess of the D'Urbervilles  3%
Jane Eyre
3%
Moby Dick
3%
Lord of the Flies 
2%
Dr Zhivago 
2%
The Catcher in the Rye  2%
50 Shades of Grey
2%
Crime and Punishment  2%
Anna Karenina  2%
Any of the Harry Potter series 
2%
Les Miserables
1%
Wolf Hall 
1%
Middlemarch
1%
White Teeth
0%
Game of Thrones 
0%
A Suitable Boy 
0%
Finnegan's Wake   
0%
None of the above
40%
Skipped12%


If you have ever pretended to read a book that you haven't read, why?

Answer Options
Response Percent
The person/people I was talking to assumed I'd read it, and I played along 22%
I'm fairly well educated, and didn't want to blow my cover
13%
I had to bluff that I'd read it for an educational qualification/course
11%
I didn't want to be left out of the conversation
10%
I wanted to be appear to be intelligent
6%
The book was in vogue and EVERYONE had read it; I didn't want to be the only one who hadn't 5%
I wanted to be appear to be cool 1%
Other
32%


Which of these book genres do you consider to be most prestigious?

Answer options Response Percent
Literary fiction (eg Booker Prize winners, the 'classics')
90%

History

4%
Crime 1%
Biography
1%
Commercial fiction/chick lit 0%
Science Fiction 0%
Self-help 0%
Popular science
0%
Young adult fiction 0%
Erotica 0%
Business/career books 0%


Which of these book genres do you consider to be least prestigious?

Answer options Response Percent
Erotica
50%

Commercial fiction/chick lit

34%
Self-help 9%
Science Fiction
2%
Crime
1%
Biography
1%
Young adult fiction 1%
Business/career books
1%
Literary fiction (eg Booker Prize winners, the 'classics')
0%
History
0%
Popular science
0%

If you unexpectedly ran into your boss on the train into work, which of these books would you be most embarrassed to be caught reading? (If you don't have a boss, or you are a boss, please substitute a similar authority figure.)
Answer options Response percent
50 Shades of Grey by EL James 43%
I'd never be embarrassed to be 'caught' reading any book 26%
Think Like a Champion by Donald Trump
13%
I Can Make You Thin by Paul McKenna 5%
I wouldn't read any of them under any circumstances 4%
The World According to Jeremy Clarkson (Volume I) 3%
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer 3%
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie 2%
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown 1%
Autocorrects: The Big Book of Hilarious Text Howlers by Tim Dedopulo 0%
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand 0%
On the Road by Jack Kerouac 0%
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding 0%
Any of the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling 0%


Which of these authors' works, compiled by Mumsnet readers, have you read (even one book)?

Answer options Response percentage
Charles Dickens
79%
Jane Austen
69%
George Orwell 
67%
Charlotte Bronte
58%
JRR Tolkien 
56%
Emily Bronte 55%
John Steinbeck 51%
Thomas Hardy 50%
Terry Pratchett 44%
George Elliot 37%
HG Wells 35%
Ernest Hemingway 31%
Virginia Woolf 30%
John Le Carre 29%
Leo Tolstoy 25%
James Joyce 22%
Fyodor Dostoyevsky 20%
Dorothy L Sayers 17%
None of the above 5%


And which of these authors' works have you never read, but feel you should have?

Answer options Response percentage
Leo Tolstoy
23%
Virginia Woolf
20%
Ernest Hemingway
20%
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
16%
James Joyce
15%
Emily Bronte 14%
Terry Pratchett 13%
Charlotte Bronte  13%
Charles Dickens
12%
Jane Austen  12%
HG Wells 12%
George Elliot
10%
Thomas Hardy
9%
George Orwell   9%
John Steinbeck
9%
JRR Tolkien  
7%
Dorothy L Sayers
6%
John Le Carre 6%
None of the above 26%


And which of these authors' works have you pretended to read when you haven't? 

Answer options Response percentage
Charles Dickens
2%
JRR Tolkien  
2%
Emily Bronte
1%
Charlotte Bronte
1%
Leo Tolstoy
1%
Fyodor Dostoyevsky
1%
Jane Austen  1%
Virginia Woolf 1%
Ernest Hemingway 1%
George Orwell   1%
John Steinbeck 1%
Terry Pratchett
0%
James Joyce
0%
Thomas Hardy
0%
HG Wells
0%
Dorothy L Sayers 0%
George Elliot
0%
John Le Carre 0%
None of the above 81%


Survey of 1035 female Mumsnet users in May 2016. The data has not been weighted. 


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Last updated: about 2 months ago