What are Mumsnetters really reading?

Ahead of Bookfest, our inaugural family literature festival, we surveyed Mumsnet users about their reading habits - from 50 Shades to 1984. Take a look at the key findings

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Donald Trump is slightly less embarrassing than erotica

Fifty Shades of Grey and Thinking like a Champion

  • The book Mumsnetters would be most embarrassed to be caught reading by their boss is Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James, chosen by 43% of respondents. 
  • In second place for a cringe-worthy read is Think Like a Champion by US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. 13% of those surveyed would be embarrassed to be caught with this autobiographical work.
  • Half of respondents believe that erotica is the most frowned upon of literary genres, while the 'classics' are considered the most prestigious by nine out of ten.


The top four most-read books were all written by female authors

Top four books

They are:


When pride is at stake, many of us are happy to lie about what we've read

Books we've pretended to have read

20% of respondents admitted to pretending they've read a book when they actually haven't. Of those who'd pretended to have read a book, the top five most-fibbed-about titles are:


Most of us feel guilty about not having read the classics

Classic books on a shelf

Nine out of ten users surveyed felt there are certain books that they should have read, but never have. The top guilt-inducers are all canonical classics:


We really must get round to reading Tolstoy...

Authors we think we should have read

  • Of the authors we feel we should have read but haven't, Leo Tolstoy ranks highest - with 23% of respondents admitting to never having read any of his expansive meditations on Russian agronomy and politics, despite feeling that they should have done.
  • The next contenders for authors on the 'should have read' list are Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway, both with 20% of the vote.

Is it time to throw away the book list, and just read what you like?

Lady reading

Mumsnet CEO Justine Roberts said: "We know from the popularity of our Book Club that Mumsnet users love reading, so it’s interesting that so many seem to be turned off by canonical classics. Maybe the shadow of the school set text looms large. 

It's unsurprising, though, that so many only pretend to have read The Lord of the Rings: when your house is full of tiny people who are easily annoyed and don’t always make sense, you’re unlikely to turn to elves in your down time."




Literature-loving family? Don't miss out on Bookfest 2016! Join us on 25 June for a fun-packed family day out with bestselling authors and great interactive events. Book your tickets now.


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    Last updated: 18 days ago