Friday, March 6, 2009

Being Pretentious

A recent survey reveals that two-thirds of Brits lie about the books that they have read. Most of the books are weighty in essence.

Books Brits pretend they have read are:

1. 1984, by George Orwell 42%

2. War and Peace, by Leo Tolstoy 31%

3. Ulysses, by James Joyce 25%

4. The Bible, 24%

5. Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert 16%

6. A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking 15%

7. Midnight's Children, by Salman Rushdie 14%

8. In Remembrance of Things Past, by Marcel Proust 9%

9. Dreams from My Father, by Barack Obama 6%

10. The Selfish Gene, by Richard Dawkins 6%

Authors Brits have actually read are:

1. J K Rowling 61%

2. John Grisham 32%

3. Sophie Kinsella 22%

4. Jilly Cooper 20%

5. Mills & Boon 18%

6. Dick Francis 17%

7. Robert Harris 16%

8. Jeffrey Archer 15%

9. Frederick Forsyth 13%

10. James Herbert 12%

I laughed hysterically at the pretentiousness here. I guess some things die hard.

Perhaps I should consider some Americans who might be all to happy to announce publicly, nonetheless, that they have not read many on the first or second list.

Personally, I have read 70% of the first list and 10% of the second.

What about you?


- A - C - said...

hehe.. now let's confess my ignorance:
from the 1st list I've read no. 1, 3 (forcibly, at school), 4 (, 6 & 10 (with pleasure).
from the authors list: 1, 2 and 10 (avidily)...

do I at least qualify "average"?

judith ellis said...

AC, my dear poet, physicist and photographer, you are wonderful! By the way, many of us would say the same thing of number 4. :-) But I do know a man who has memorized the Bible verbatim. He's a great guy, but reading does not necessarily mean receiving or enacting. Reading is a good thing, though!

allen said...

I've participated in a 36 hour read-a-thon of the jame Joyce book
and I've read parts of the Selfish Gene by Dawkins - He's a brilliant man, but I think he is a bit of a jerk. His latest books where he uses evolution to disprove the existance of god is obnoxoius.
I believe in evolution and am at best an agnostic, but I don't feel that the point of science is to argue against faith anymore than I believe the point of faith is to be afraid of what science might discover. These two diciplines are far from mutually exclusive.

judith ellis said...

"I don't feel that the point of science is to argue against faith anymore than I believe the point of faith is to be afraid of what science might discover. These two disciplines are far from mutually exclusive."

I agree with this statement. Faith is belief; one cannot argue it. Science is study; it is proved and disproved again and again. Man has not infinite knowledge of either. Understanding both is a continuous discovery process. This is what's most beautiful about both faith and science.

Regarding science and faith being "far from mutually exclusive," I have written here of the Stephen Hawking meeting at the Vatican. The Pope and Hawking made similar statements. Hawking is most brilliant, not to mention that he did not let his impediments hinder him. I like the way he does not close any doors, neither did the great Charles Darwin. I have written of both here, the latter more than once.

I am a Christian who believes in evolution and choice. Your point above is much appreciated. I have not read the Dawkins book. But I'll order it. I also think he's brilliant.

Anonymous said...

From the first list, I read 1, 4, 10 (started Madame Bovary and Midnight's Children...didn't get anywhere). On the 2nd list, 1 and 3.

I think its kinda of entertaining that ppl lie about it.

BTW, Dawkins is...a jerk. I really didn't even like the way he wrote the selfish gene. His new book is annoying as well. I don't have anything against evolution or faith... just don't like him.

Jo Jordan said...

Like the new look.

I didn't follow the pretentious bit. It's pretentious to tell a person with a clipboard you haven't read 1984?

Actually we are having a picnic at George Orwell's grave on June 25th. Good excuse to drive across Oxfordshire on a summer's day and meet up with geeks.

judith ellis said...

Meena - I laughed my head off, well, not exactly! But you get the picture. We often want to appear more educated or learned when, in fact, what we desire most sometimes is a good romance or Grisham novel. This is good. Variance matters. But, oh, we dare not appear as lightweights. Some cultures delight in being serious; this is shown on their brows and in their tone, not to mention their word choices.

judith ellis said...

Thanks, Jo. I've gotta get back to your site. Thanks for the reminder.

The prententious bit is precisely what I have just written to Meena.

Love the celebration aspect of meeting with geeks and the English countryside must be beautiful.

I have traveled all over the world and lived for extended periods in Europe, but I have yet to visit England. Maybe someday.

I love British authors. Virginia Woolf is a beloved author of mine as well as Iris Murdock.

Cynthia said...

I read 1984, and that frightened me
big time, because my mind was so
into the main character, I became him and when the knock came at his
door, my heart was pumping like
a motor boat engine.
Madame Bovary, didn't do much for
me at all, read in a high school
"woman's" literature class.
I didn't read Dreams of My Father,
that will be next, however I just
finished The Audacity of Hope.

I would love to read Ulysses, and have been looking for a reading partner for that novel for about
10 years now, no takers needless
to say, I guess it's time to bit
the bullet and dig in myself.
And I'll add Salman Rushdie's novel to the list, I hear the
novel is tremendously packed with
characters and very long, which
is usually my favorite type of
book to read. Not fond of any of
the authors on the other list.
I crave Nelson DeMille though
and early Susan Howatch.

judith ellis said...

Cynthia - I have not read Nelson DeMille or Susan Howatch. I will do a little research and perhaps I'll soon add them to my list. Thanks for the introduction. I love books.

Anonymous said...

re: "Some cultures delight in being serious; this is shown on their brows and in their tone, not to mention their word choices."

Maybe, some of it is just what is common and how one is bread. I lived in England and never had an issue. I actually ended up picking up some syntax from there just because.

Even in the states, friends or family will mock my speech, but I speak the way I do because of schooling and work. Sometimes I probably do sound pretentious, but I don't do it consciously.

judith ellis said...

Yes, Meena, it often does depend on our various environments doesn’t it? This reminds me of when people hear me speak they often ask if I am American. I speak four languages and have lived all around the world and sometimes this comes through. But I also firmly believe that we understand pretentiousness when we hear it and see it, all of the other things aside. There is a certain humility necessary when seeking to understand others. It is not about you.

Even with all of my education, training in various areas, and diversity of professions, I can go to the "hood" or the slum of any community, as I have in my many travels, and be understood--even when I have struggled with various dialects. But my greatest desire is to seek to understand others. This comes through and in my doing so I am understood. I become as the Apostle Paul said "all things to all people so that I might 'win' a few."

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean - I definitely shift how I speak and act depending on the crowd who I am with.

I also start speaking like the crowd I am with...which can be really funny.

judith ellis said...

"I also start speaking like the crowd I am with...which can be really funny."

LOL! Sometimes this is done rather subconsciously, yes?

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah.
I sound like a brit wannabe after a while.

judith ellis said...

Too funny, Meena! So, there's an "heir" of nobility in your tone, eh?

Anonymous said...

That or I am being inadvertently pretentious :-P

judith ellis said...