12 March 2007

The great unread

Vernon God Little may have won the the Booker Prize but it also appears to have won a more dubious accolade: According to a survey pubblished today, DBC Pierre’s satire was the book least likely to be finished - 35% of respondents who bought or borrowed the book failed to get to the end (Me, I loved it but his second book Ludmilla’s Broken English was dreadful), beating Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire into second place. Ulysses came third.

According to the survey Fifty-five per cent of those polled said they buy books for decoration, and have no intention of actually reading them. This suggests that some readers buy "intellectual credibility for the bookshelf" rather than books they actually want to read. "Far too often people are buying books because they think they will be good for them, rather than because they think they'll enjoy them," said Rachel Cugnoni from the publisher Vintage.

Oxfam and other charity shops have had quite a few unfinished books off us over the years. I really don’t get why people would buy books just for decoration though. Then again both myself and the not-wife are old enough and ugly enough to give a damn about what people thought of the contents of our bookshelves!


elasticwaistbandlady said...

I read that article too! I was surprised that anyone would even pick up Becham's biography let alone pay actual money for it for the privilege of taking it home. Why? Everything you need to know about him is on the front page of the tabloids on any given day.

beakerkin said...

This may shock people but Les Miserables was too long. 127 pages describing a monastary was enough.
I quit reading arount the first 10%
of the book. Victor Hugo needed an editor.

jams o donnell said...

THe same goes for a lot of people who seem to spend half their lives in front of the paparazzi. I think he used to be a footballer once, you know!

To be honest I find a lot of 19th century literature too wordy and far too long. Perhaps because a fair bit of it was written as a serialisation in periodicals - more words meant more pay, I suppose. It does mean I am not a fan of, say. Dickens but Zola is very readable

Anonymous said...

I was surprised about Vernon God Little. I rather enjoyed it.

Currently trying to decide whether to finish Thomas Pynchon's V... halfway through it but that still means a hell of a long way to go.

As for Harry Potter 4 - I gave up reading after about 2 pages of Harry Potter 1! Having bought the books for the kids I am keeping them though - just in case I suffer some sort of brain trauma one day and find them acceptable.

jams o donnell said...

I liked Vernon Go little too Skuds. I am surprised it got the rating it did.. I would have imagined that War and Peace or Ulysses would have had more readers that never made it to the end

I can't get into Pynchon. I've tried and utterly failed. Never tried Harry Potter though. I probably would if we had kids

jams o donnell said...

Oh Skuds. is you site down? I have not been able to access if for over a week now

Steve Bates said...

Half Price Books, a chain of used book stores in Texas and the source of a goodly portion of my library, offers a ghastly product called Books by the Yard... they supply restaurants, doctors' waiting rooms etc. with lots of books with pretty spines; contents be damned. I can't blame HPB, they're just selling what decorators want, and apart from that, they're a very respectable used book store. But the whole notion of Books by the Yard is sure to offend any book lover.

I have permission not to finish any book that proves itself not worth the time and trouble. I gave myself that permission a few years back when I turned 50; life's too short to waste reading bad books.

jams o donnell said...

I used to have a very handy second had book shop a couple of hundred yards away but sadly it's gone and thee arent any more locally. The charity shops soemetimes have some good stuff but I need to be in a mood to rummage.

I have given myself the same permission. I may be over a decade younger but I don't have the time to waste on seeing crappy books through to the end either