To read or not to read – that is the question?

With the end of the summer holidays and beginning of another school year, many students will be getting to grips with their new reading lists. However a new survey from Opinium Research suggests that for UK adults, regular reading often ends when school does. To read or not to read, that is the question? We want to hear your opinion on this London Mums. How many books do you manage to read in your minimal spare time?

child books reading storytelling

It’s shocking to hear that over seven million (15%) Brits have not read a single book in the last year. I guess this is down to the internet, and all the i-technologies that tend to fill people’s free time these days. In fact another result from the research is that nearly half (49%) of UK adults who have read less than 10 books in the last year (which is quite good compared to zero), say that they do not have time to read.

The average GCSE English syllabus covers a plethora of definitive authors such as Steinbeck and Shakespeare and most students now leave school with a good grounding in the literary classics.

This doesn’t necessarily carry to later life. Opinium’s research has uncovered that shockingly just under a third (31%) could not name Charles Dickens as the author of Great Expectations while just under one in five (17%) were unable to identify William Shakespeare when asked who wrote Hamlet.

Over a quarter (28%) have not ready any of the books considered to be “classics.” However, despite this it does seem that some Brits are better acquainted with classic literature. Over a third (36%) have read Animal Farm, one in three (33%) Romeo and Juliet and 3 out of ten (30%) Great Expectations.

Overall the report has shown that nearly a quarter of adults (24%) have read less than five books in the last year and one in seven (15%) admitted that they had not read a single book in the last twelve months. The average person reads on average 7 books a year. Men tend to read less with 21% of men admitting they haven’t read a single book in the last year compared to just 10% of women. On the flip side, nearly one in ten (9%) have managed to read over 50 books over the last year.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, nearly half (49%) of UK adults who have read less than ten books in the last year blame a lack of time. Of the one in ten (12%) that said they do not enjoy reading the majority was male (16% compared to 6% of women).

The top five reasons for not reading more:

Lack of time 49%

There are things I find more interesting 26%

I would rather watch the film version of a book 15%

I am a slow reader 13%

I don’t like reading 12%

When they do manage to find the time, the most popular place for Brits to read is before they go to sleep at night with nearly half (47%) opting to take a book to bed with them. For third of UK adults (33%) holidays are the preferred time to read. A quarter (26%) are enthusiastic enough to take the opportunity to read whenever they can. One in ten men (10%) confessed to reading on the toilet compared to just 3% of women.

Danny dog reading

When it comes to genre Brits are clearly a nation of thrill seekers with the majority favoring thrillers (30%) and crime novels (26%). For just over one in ten (16%) romance novels are the preferred category with, perhaps unsurprisingly, women outweighing men with 29% compared to just 2%. The Da Vinci Code is the book of contemporary literature that most British adults have read (36%), with books from the Harry Potter series coming a close second (28%).

James Endersby, managing director of Opinium Research, commented: “Unfortunately for many people reading is now a luxury and something which they cannot commit a great deal of time to. Over the summer many will have taken the opportunity to relax with a good book and have hopefully reminded themselves how much they enjoy reading. What would be great is if everyone decided to pick one classic book to read during the winter months, my favourite classic is Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. “

Get involved in the debate: #getBritainreading @opiniumresearch

What do you think about this London Mums? How many books do you read on average per year? Do you read to your children? We want to hear from you. Thanks.

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