Monday, March 12, 2007

Unfinished books

I notice a survey on what books people start but do not finish reading:

A Teletext survey of 4,000 Britons found that almost half of the books they bought remained unfinished.

The average Briton spent more than £4,000 on books during their lifetime, the survey found.

Less than a quarter of people found time to read every day, with 48% saying they were too tired.

I'm not sure what to make of the figure for those who read every day. There is much talk about reading dying off with the Internet. I must admit I mainly read news and newspapers on the web but still like to have books and magazines in hard copy.The survey does not compare with past surveys or seem to specify what sort of reading, whether it is books, papers or magazines or even back of cereal packets!

The report goes on to list the top ten unfinished books .

The fiction ones are :

1 Vernon God Little, DBC Pierre
2 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
3 Ulysses, James Joyce
4 Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis De Bernieres
5 Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell
6 The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
7 The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho
8 War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
9 The God of Small Things, Arundhati Roy
10 Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoevsky

I was surprised by the Harry Potter book. Not because I have read it as the whole Potter phenomena has passed me by, but I assumed all of the series was avidly read by its fans. Perhaps people wait and watch the film. It seems many prefer their books adapted and packaged as a BBC costume drama . That though misses out on the experience of using imagination to paint pictures in our heads .

The non fiction top ten was :

1 The Blunkett Tapes, David Blunkett
2 My Life, Bill Clinton
3 My Side, David Beckham
4 Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss
5 Wild Swans, Jung Chang
6 Allen Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking
7 The Downing Street Years, Margaret Thatcher
8 I Can Make You Thin, Paul McKenna
9 Jade: My Autobiography, Jade Goody
10 Why Don't Penguins' Feet Freeze?, Mick O'Hare

Now my first thought with some of these titles was why anyone would even buy them in the first place, I mean Jade Goody !!
It does show though an appetite for autobiography. Now some of these are people who have lived a life such as Clinton or Thatcher, but all to often people write them when in their twenties when they hardly have a wealth of life experiences to share.Recent examples include Charlotte Church or the TWO books by Jordan. Perhaps that is why they are unfinished as there is nothing there to hold the attention. You may like a person but their life story may not be gripping.

Wonder how the authors feel about making this top ten list . Do they think well we got the royalties or feel hurt that they were discarded (those that are still alive of course!)