When it comes to choosing a book, the possibilities are endless. Some like to read huge, hefty historic novels, others prefer fluffy love stories, thrillers, or even autobiographies. But how much do we really know about literature? Britain, after all, has produced some of the most heavyweight authors of all time, from Shakespeare, to Chaucer and Jane Austen; but are more modern day novels more familiar to us?

When it came to trashy novels, we seemed to be considerably clued up!

When it came to trashy novels, we seemed to be considerably clued up!

To find out, online travel company ebookers.com conducted a survey of 2,000 Brits, to find out how much we really know about some of the biggest and best selling books in the world. From classic novels generally taught at school, to the ones you’d find on airport bookstores’ shelves, the results were, shall we say, interesting! 

When asked what the novel To Kill a Mockingbird was about, over three quarters of us got it right (serious social issues in the deep south). However, some people did actually believe it was about game bird hunting in the Serengeti (4%), whilst 14% thought it was about an epic WW1 battle. There was a strong turnout for those who knew who wrote Great Expectations: 78% knew it was by the great Charles Dickens, though a slightly worrying 8% seemed to think it was by bonkbuster author Jackie Collins! 

Onto more political and historical matters, and 46% of us knew that the character of Napoleon in George Orwell’s Animal Farm represented Joseph Stalin - while 7% believed he was a symbol for Keyser Soze, the fictional villain from the film The Usual Suspects... Over two thirds of us knew that prolific Russian author Leo Tolstoy penned the 1,225 page novel War and Peace (78%), although 4% did seem to think it might be by ex Manchester United footballer Andrei Kanchelskis! And one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, would have been so very different if it had been set, as 10% of Brits believe, in the raucous Spanish beach resort of Magaluf, rather than Athens, the cradle of Western civilisation (though there are probably more Bottoms regularly on display in Magaluf)…

ebookers.com found that when it came to trashy novels, we seemed to be considerably clued up! 83% of us, for example, knew that the main protagonist in 50 Shades of Grey was a man called Christian Grey. The clue’s right there in the title, but that didn’t stop 6% of people thinking it was Mr Darcy (who is actually the hero from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, though he was equally good at showing off his manly chest in the film version of the book). And an impressive 74% of us knew that Jilly Cooper’s novels were mainly based on equestrian sports, though 13% did think she wrote about golf. Across the country as a whole, those in East England scored the highest with 72% of correct answers. Londoners came midway, with 60.5%, while Northern Ireland scored the lowest with 50% - still not bad!

Perhaps in order to try and show we keep up with trends, or want to appear much more intelligent than we are, nearly a quarter of us (23%) lie about reading a particular book; and men are much more likely to do it than women (61% of them). In fact, 42% of us would rather watch the film version of a novel rather than have to actually read it! 

Traditionally though, holidays are the time when we’d probably read more than any other time period; because we’re usually relaxing, spending time at the beach, and able to devote several hours to getting lost in a good book. That said, only 38% of us actually managed to finish at least one whole book on their last holiday, and over a quarter took a book in the hopes of reading it but never manage to open it (25.5%) - it is true that the lure of cocktails by the pool and checking out buff bodies can distract somewhat from the page... When it comes to the type of books we like to read on holiday however, drama and autobiographies tie: over a quarter of us (26%) like to lose ourselves in a self confessed celebrity success story. Second most popular though is sci-fi, with 22.5% of us enjoying reading about other worlds. 14% of us like to get stuck in to a crime scene, taking mystery novels away with us on holiday.

But if you’re really stuck and don’t know what kind of book you’d enjoy, ebookers.com has come to the rescue; they’ve created a holiday book generator- where you can either browse by destination, and it will suggest something appropriate to, or linked with, the area; or you can take a quiz, and it will recommend a book based on the type of holiday you enjoy and what kind of person you are. 

Holidays are a great time to relax with a good read,’ says Fran Doherty from ebookers.com, ‘and we believe our book generator will be indispensible for people who are stumped by what kind of novel they would enjoy while they’re away. We do all the hard work for you - all you need to do is buy it, then chill out by the pool or the beach and escape into your imagination! That’s what holidays are all about.

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