Literary Liars!

World book day
  • 46% of British adults have lied about reading books in a bid to impress

  • The top 10 classic books which we fail to finish revealed!

  • War and Peace tops the 'boring blockbuster books' list followed by Hamlet and Moby Dick

  • Snooze worthy books including Hamlet, Wuthering Heights, Animal Farm and The Great Gatsby get modern comedy makeover from TV Channel Dave to mark World Book Day

Comedian Rachel Parris reads the new passages featuring Boris the boar and Starmer the horse in Animal Farm, Heathcliff attending counselling for toxic masculinity and The Great Gatsby as a modern day 'finfluencer'



War and Peace, Hamlet and Moby Dick have been named as books Brits are least likely to finish according to new research released today.

Comedy channel Dave teamed up with Professor Sam Haddow from St Andrews University to conduct the study, which surveyed 2,000 British adults, to identify the definitive list of the literary blockbusters that send the nation to sleep.

Dave is encouraging the nation to revisit some of the books named in the study via a series of witty comedy rewrites, following data which suggests a staggering 46 per cent of adults have lied about reading a classic book in a bid to appear more intelligent.

The top 10 books (including a precis from Professor Haddow) that we fail to finish were named as follows - warning spoiler alerts:

  1. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy - Napoleon took six months to lose his war with Russia. Tolstoy took six years to write about it. That probably tells you everything you need to know??

  2. Hamlet, Shakespeare - The world's most self-loathing man spends a lot of time talking about himself, to himself. Also, Denmark collapses

  3. Moby Dick, Herman Melville - An overlong list of whale facts, and after 137 chapters, an altercation between a man and a whale. The man loses

  4. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë - A man becomes obsessed with vengeance when his soul mate literally ghosts him

  5. Animal Farm, George Orwell - A lot of pigs who are not really pigs, but are actually pigs, convince other farm animals to work on a farm. And communism?

  6. Bleak House, Charles Dickens - A 750-page book about a legal dispute lasting 117 years

  7. Les Misérables, Victor Hugo - Over a quarter of this 3,000-page novel is made up of moral philosophy arguments. No, really. It got better when they condensed it to three hours and added songs

  8. Hunchback of Notre-Dame, Victor Hugo - A terrible man does awful things which the novel ignores and focuses on the buildings

  9. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald - An American learns that capitalism is bad, whilst drinking martinis in a mansion. Leonardo Di Caprio does NOT feature

  10. Ulysses, James Joyce - A man walks through Dublin towards his wife, who is at home having an affair. Meanwhile, everybody in Ireland says everything that has ever been said. Loudly?

The sheer length of many of these books is a top reason Brits struggle to get through them. For example, Leo Tolstoy's 1,225-page epic novel War and Peace, has an average reading length of 37 hours and 48 minutes*.

The Dave research revealed that the vast majority (71 per cent) of adults admitted to being impressed by someone who are well read in 'the classics', which might explain why so many lie about having read these books.

The study also revealed that men are more likely to mislead with 48 per cent prepared to lie about their literary credentials compared to 44 per cent of women. And young people aged 18 to 24 are the biggest book bluffers of all with 77 per cent willing to lie that they have read a heavyweight novel.

Interestingly 67% per cent of those who took part in the study said they would be more likely to complete the classics if only they made them laugh.

Thus, Dave commissioned a crack team of comedy writers, including Nikesh Shukla, Mollie Goodfellow, Steven Vinacour, Ivo Graham and Flo Perry, to bring some levity and add 'a bit of Dave' to six of the impenetrable classics named on the list:

  • Wuthering Heights - new version sees Heathcliff sent to counselling for anger management and toxic masculinity
  • Moby Dick - the classic loses 132 chapters (yet none of the story) and ends with a sole survivor clinging to a makeshift cheeseboard
  • Animal Farm - featuring Boris the Boar and Starmer the Horse, oh and a farmyard campaign to get 'Hexit Done'
  • The Great Gatsby - sees Gatsby as a self-described 'Fin-influencer' - posting insane self-congratulatory and overembellished posts across his social media
  • Hamlet - where the would be King considers jacking it all in for an easier life abroad -the 'To be or not be to' scene rewritten with striking parallels to Harry & Meghan
  • Bleak House - embracing the chaos of this mindboggling book by drawing parrels with dreaded conference calls and the iconic Handforth Parish Council meeting

The rewrites come complete with a new illustrative cover which speaks to the revamped plot, characters and storylines from leading illustrator Bob Venables.

Rachel Parris, stand-up comedian and star of Late Night Mash, runs through key passages for the likes of Moby Dick in a series of video readings. Each witty remake is now available to download at

Professor Sam Haddow, of the School of English at St. Andrew's University, said:

It has been a delight to work with Dave's writers to take a silly-stick to the stuffiness surrounding some of our most revered works of literature. I hope that readers get as many laughs out of these re-drafted stories as I have - and, perhaps, that they're inspired to go back to the originals with fresher, less-jaded eyes...

Cherie Cunningham, Dave channel director said:

At Dave, we're always looking for new ways to add a little humour to the mundane and every day. For World Book Day this year, we wanted to not only celebrate these literary works of art but add a comedic twist in a bid to inspire new readers, or those of us who have tried and failed, to go back and give them another go.

The comedic takes on the classic literature are now available to download at

Images available here:

Hero video here:

Video - Top10 Books Brits fail to finish listed:

Downloadable PDFs: available at the following link from 1st March:


Dave logo

Notes to Editor

Downloadable PDFs of each reimagined books are available at the following link from 1st March:

*The average reader will spend 37 hours and 48 minutes reading this book at 250 WPM (words per minute), according to reading

Book Excerpts

  • Animal Farm by Steven Vinacour - Pre-eminent among the pigs were three young boars named Snowball, Boris and Napoleon, whom Mr. Jones was breeding up for sale.... Boris was the biggest boar of them all, prone to upsetting half the farm animals with his constant gaffs and inappropriate behaviour. He bumbled around the sty ordering the other animals to both go out and stay in, seemingly just because he felt like it.

  • Hamlet by Flo Perry - Before Act One, Scene Five. Enter JERRIUS SPRINGUS beloved jester across all of noble Denmark. JERRIUS SPRINGUS: Welcome lords and ladies to a very special show, You are used to me sorting quarrels between star crossed lovers, breaking up duels, picking up gauntlets, and catching fainting damsels. Well today it's none other than the Danish Royal family. Young Prince Hamlet, I'm sure you know him well, Well, he came back home from studying abroad; And shock! horror! His dad is dead and his mum, Queen Gertrude, has married his Uncle. And now Uncle Claudius is king. We've all heard the rumours, but tonight, we will expose the truth

  • Moby Dick by Steven Vinacour - The first few days were unremarkable, we ate, we sang, we laughed, fished, smoked and made some observations about our crewmates races and religions which I imagine in years to come may well be classed as unacceptable. We also took to studying Cetology, the zoology of whales. Turns out they are quite remarkable creatures, although I see little value in sharing the details

  • The Great Gatsby by Nikesh Shukla - I saw Gatsby standing on the lawn, holding his phone as far away from his body as possible, swivelling around in circles, holding a finger up. He was live-streaming again I could hear him, chattering away. "Listen, GatsBFFs, if you want to make it like me, you have to work hard. Listen, I'm no saint. I may have come up through the ranks allegedly bootlegging liquor, supposedly, don't sue me, promise, I could be joking, am I joking? But now? I'm an honest guy. There's nothing more honest than stocks and shares. Sure, I made all the money I invested through bootlegging. But right now, I'm Honest Jay. I have the same twenty four hours in a day as the rest of you. So, if you want to get to where I am, you just need to work harder. #blessed #lovethehustle #createyourdreamlivenow #naturalbornhustlers"

  • Bleak House by Ivo Graham - Thus, in the midst of the mud and at the heart of the fog, sits the self-elected clerk Brian Tolver. "When do we plan to start?" asks the clerk, latterly something restless under the eloquence of that learned gentleman. "At any moment," says Jackie Weaver. Ms Weaver knows more of parish councils than anybody. She is famous for it-supposed never to have read anything else since she left school. "Can we be assured that we won't be thrown out of the meeting like we were last time?" "As long as we have reasonable behaviour from everyone, no one will be excluded" is the reply that slides out of Ms. Weaver.

  • Wuthering Heights by Mollie Goodfellow - "Now everyone, we have a new member of the group today. I'd like you all to welcome Heathcliff. Can you tell us a bit about yourself Heathcliff?" He sighed heavily. "My name is Heathcliff, I live in a house up on the moors. I'm here because family think I have a problem with my anger. They are wrong but I'm here to pacify their feelings." "Tell me about your childhood? Did you have brothers? Sisters?" At the mention of sisters, Heathcliff's eyes went black. He stood up from his chair and flung it across the room. He was really going off on one.

About Dave

Dave is the award-winning entertainment channel home to a veritable feast of UKTV Original comedy hits from some of the biggest stars in the UK. Comedy entertainment shows like BAFTA-nominated Big Zuu's Big Eats, Outsiders, Mel Giedroyc: Unforgivable, Hypothetical, Comedians Giving Lectures, Question Team, Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled, The Island and British As Folk sit alongside scripted comedies such as Meet The Richardsons and Red Dwarf.

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