Cookson tops poll of UK authors

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The Independent Online
THE AVERAGE Briton has 187 books at home while 11 per cent own more than 500, according to a survey published yesterday.

Ten months into the National Year of Reading, the Mori poll reveals the diversity of Britain's literary tastes, with Catherine Cookson emerging as the most popular author. The Bible was the favourite book, followed by Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.

The research - commissioned by Nestle - found that 95 per cent of British people think reading is an important and positive part of their lives. Sixty-six per cent of the more than 500 adults who took part in the survey described it as relaxing, 65 per cent said it was enjoyable, and 60 per cent described it as informative.

The research shows the most popular reason for daily reading is for information with newspapers being the most frequently read publications. Nearly two- thirds read a newspaper compared to just 5 per cent who surf the Internet daily and 25 per cent who read Teletext services.

Some 12 per cent said they read fiction every day but, overall, biographies and autobiographies are the most popular genres (18 per cent), followed by thrillers and humour (both 14 per cent) and detective novels (13 per cent). Sports books are the favourite type for men (22 per cent) while 17 per cent of women opt for romance.

The survey also revealed that the living room is the favourite place for people to read (79 per cent). Two-thirds read in bed but this tends to be preferred by women.

Liz Attenborough, project director for the National Year of Reading, said: "It is clear that even though many people have very busy lives they still make time to read in a range of locations." The National Year of Reading was launched in September last year as part of the Government's National Literacy Strategy and its policy to promote lifelong learning.