Talking fiction? Research reveals our reading habits and hang-ups

21 April 2017

Large wbn 2017 banner large

Friday 21 April 2017: Our new research suggests the UK is a nation of wannabe bookworms.

The survey, commissioned to mark World Book Night on Sunday 23 April, suggests huge numbers of us are hankering after more reading time, but busy lives are getting in the way. Many Brits would read more if they received book recommendations from friends and family, while others will readily stretch the truth about the books they’ve read, in order to impress.

This World Book Night, we are calling on book lovers across the country to give a great book to someone who doesn’t read often – in recognition of the challenges many people face when it comes to finding the right book. The aim is to get brilliant books into the hands of thousands of young people and adults who haven’t yet discovered books as a companion through life’s ups and downs.

World Book Night will have support from a glittering cast of book lovers this year, including Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, who has given books on World Book Night every year since it began. Her Royal Highness will be gifting copies of Anatomy of a Soldier by Harry Parker to the libraries at HMP Brixton, HMP Erlestoke and HMP Coldingley.

Revealed: the nation’s reading habits and hang-ups

Wishful readers

The survey of 2,000 UK adults found that two thirds (67%) would like to read more, but nearly half (48%) admit they are too busy to read. Whilst hectic lives appear to be getting in between Brits and a good book, over a third (35%) said they struggle to find a book they really like, and a quarter (26%) reveal they would read more if they received book recommendations from someone they knew.

Comfort between the pages

Those of us who are reading books are finding support, inspiration and solace between the pages. Nearly two thirds (59%) said they would turn to a book in times of stress, anxiety or illness. Meanwhile, almost half of Brits (48%) say they would rely on a book to help navigate the ups and downs of friendships and relationships.

Never let the truth get in the way of a good story

The survey suggests two in five of us (41%) will stretch the truth when it comes to what, or how much we’ve read. Men are the biggest culprits, with one in five (19%) admitting they’d lie about their reading habits in order to impress in a job interview. Other top scenarios are stretching the truth whilst on a date, when meeting the in-laws and on social media profiles.

Today’s millennials are the generation most likely to stretch the truth, with 64% of 18-24 year olds fibbing about the number of books, or the kinds of books, they’ve read. One quarter of 18-24 year olds (25%) admit to having lied about reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, when they have in fact just watched the film.

Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive of The Reading Agency said:

“It’s great to see from our research that Brits still love to read, but not surprising that some people feel they are too busy to do so. Finding the right book can be key to getting back into the reading habit, and our research shows how influential book recommendations and book gifting can be. So on World Book Night we are urging keen readers to give a book to someone they know who doesn’t currently read for pleasure.

“At The Reading Agency, we believe everything changes when we read. It’s proven that reading for pleasure is a more powerful factor in life achievement than socio-economic background; that it can result in higher levels of self-esteem and improve social interaction.

“Our aim for World Book Night is to get brilliant books into the hands of people, young and old, who don’t read regularly. On 23 April we want hundreds of thousands of people across the country to pick up a good book, and discover the joy, excitement and comfort that lie waiting for them between the pages.”

Get involved

Find out more about World Book Night 2017

Take part in an event near you

Tell us what book you would recommend to someone who doesn’t read for pleasure on Twitter using #WorldBookNight

News

World Book Night 2017

World Book Night is our annual celebration of reading and books that takes place on 23 April. The 2017 event saw thou... read more »

Small unison learning

Impact

World Book Night 2016 builds on previous years' success

Following on from our large-scale impact evaluation in 2015, we assessed again the impact of the 2016 event on our re... read more »

Small world book night 2016 matt haig reading from danny champion of the world

Resources

World Book Night 2017 general poster (PDF, A4)

Print this poster and stick up on noticeboards, in windows and anywhere else you like to promote World Book Night read more »

Thumb wbn poster image 2