Revealed - the books we just can't finish

LONDON (Reuters) - “War and Peace” rubbed shoulders with “The Satanic Verses” on a list of the 10 ten novels that Britons are least likely to finish reading, according to a study on Monday.

Ten non-fiction titles won the same dubious accolade with David Blunkett’s lengthy autobiography “The Blunkett Tapes” topping the list.

The Teletext Reading Report asked 4,000 Britons about their reading habits.

The findings suggest that in the digital age, attention spans are getting shorter, with four out of 10 respondents admitting they are unable to concentrate on long-winded novels.

Many also revealed they found it hard to make time for reading. Top reasons for this included; feeling tired (48 percent), watching TV (46 percent), or playing computer or interactive games (26 percent).

Kevin Killeen, author of the report, said: “The research illustrates that the pressure of finding time for reading is the main factor when it comes to discarding a book unfinished.

Topping the fiction list was DBC Pierre’s Man Booker Prize-winning novel “Vernon God Little,” with 35 percent who had bought or borrowed the book admitting they could not get to the end.

JK Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” one of the longest in the Harry Potter series, came second with 32 percent of adult readers confessing they did not reach the end.

James Joyce’s notoriously impenetrable masterpiece “Ulysses” came in third. Ulysses was also one of the most popular books that respondents admitted they buy for decoration, rather than for reading purposes.

On the non-fiction list, Bill Clinton’s exhaustive, 1,024-page autobiography “My Life” came in second after Blunkett, while David Beckham’s autobiographical “My Side” was a close third.

For readers with no stamina, Killeen has compiled condensed versions of the top five fiction and non-fiction books, available on Teletext’s TV information service or online at

Top 10 fiction titles which Britons cannot finish:

1. Vernon God Little, by 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

Non fiction:

1. The Blunkett Tapes, David Blunkett 2. My Life, Bill Clinton 3. My Side, David Beckham 4. Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, Lynne Truss 5. Wild Swans, Jung Chang 6. Easy Way to Stop Smoking, Allen Carr 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?: And 114 Other Questions, Mick O’Hare