Thursday, May 24, 2007

Are You Impressed Yet?

According to the March 2007 Library and Information Update, one third of readers surveyed said they read “challenging literature” in order to be perceived as being well read, even though they couldn’t follow what the book was about. One half said reading classics makes people look more intelligent, while forty percent lied about having read certain books. Another survey found that half of their respondents admitted to having bought a book simply to leave it lying around the house looking impressive.

Topping the list of books people admitted they bluffed about having read: Lord of the Rings, War and Peace, Withering Heights, 1984, Harry Potter, Great Expectations, Jane Eyre, The Da Vinci Code, and The Diary of Anne Frank.

If you think that’s scary, think about this: these are the honest liars. How many people buy books to impress their friends or claim to read books they haven’t, yet don’t admit it?


Steve Malley said...

I remember seeing a movie where one of the characters didn't read books, only book reviews. He was quite smug about getting the opinions he should have without the heavy lifting.

Kate S said...

This is so funny and just so sad. How do they fake it if someone asks their opinion? Or maybe since nobody else read the books, they don't have to worry. :)

Emily said...

Ah, yes, but the thing I like about this finding is that people still feel it will impress someone if they have BOOKS around.

That means that the presence of BOOKS is still important. Meaning the sale of BOOKS is still important. Sure, I'd like people to read all my books, but failing that, I'd like them to buy my books, so I'll get my few pennies in royalties.

I think "BOOKS FOR SHOW" is not an altogether bad idea. Especially if the alternative is no books at all.

Emily Toth

cs harris said...

You do have a point, Emily--at least they're buying books. Perhaps having them lying around will inspire a few to actually read

Charles Gramlich said...

For those who buy books for show, maybe someone should invent a handy frame so that they could be hung on the wall like artwork to be admired.

"Yes," Pierre said smugly to his guests. "That's a Da Vinci Code. First edition. And over here we have a genuine Hemingway. NOT one of his many imitators."

"Hemingway," one of the guests mused aloud. "Didn't he write about bull fights and such? I hear he's quite the bloody-minded author."

"I really have no idea," Pierre said. "By god surely you don't expect me to read the awful things."

Steve Malley said...

Was it Mark Twain who said a classic is a book everyone agrees ought to be read but that no one has?

Also, there *is* an industry in display books. There are firms that sell 'books by the yard' to decorators for stocking private libraries to look like the rich bucketheads in the houses read.

Lana said...

But truly reading great literary works might lead to edjumakation & let's face it--that's just not kewl.

(Hopefully the sarcasm comes through loud & clear. ;)

Sphinx Ink said...

As Emily says, at least they're keeping up the idea that reading books is an activity to be emulated (if not actually engaged in).

Re Steve's comment on the "books-by-the-yard" decorators, I've seen several magazine articles on room redesigns in which the interior decorators hide real books from view--too messy-looking, I suppose. Or, if the homeowners don't have any books, the designers buy a few discarded hardcover books, then cover them with plain white paper and stack them in twos and threes on bookshelves that otherwise contain more objects d'art than books.

From this I deduce the creed followed by interior designers: books are not aesthetically pleasing; the only "pretty" books are those with matching covers in the same size which can be arranged in small quantities; if a client has lots of books, you try to convince him/her to get rid of them or hide them; a client who has no books is easier to work with, because then you just buy a few fake books and cover them alike to serve purely as decor.

Any decorator seeing my house would faint, or else have nightmares of being inundated by books he/she couldn't hide away!