Study lists books we’re least likely to finish reading

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

The Dave Comedy Channel teamed up with Professor Sam Haddow of the University of St Andrews to conduct the study, which surveyed 2,000 UK adults, to identify the definitive list of literary blockbusters that are putting 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 that suggests 46% of adults have lied about reading a classic book in the purpose of looking smarter.

The top 10 books (including a summary by Professor Haddow) that we fail to complete have been named as follows – spoiler warning:

1. War and peace , Leo Tolstoy – It took Napoleon 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 most hateful man in the world spends a lot of time talking about himself, to himself. Also, Denmark is collapsing

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

4. The Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë – A man becomes obsessed with revenge when his soul mate literally ghosts him

5. farm animal , George Orwell – Lots of pigs that aren’t really pigs, but are actually pigs, convince other farm animals to work on a farm. And communism

6. dark house Charles Dickens – A 750-page book about a legal dispute that spanned 117 years

7. Wretched , Victor Hugo – More than a quarter of this 3,000-page novel is made up of arguments from moral philosophy. Not really. It got better when they condensed it to three hours and added songs

8. The hunchback of Notre-Dame de Paris Victor Hugo – A terrible man does horrible things which the novel ignores and focuses on buildings

9. Gatsby the magnificent , F. Scott Fitzgerald – An American learns capitalism is evil while drinking martinis at a mansion. Leonardo Di Caprio is NOT featured

ten. Ulysses , James Joyce – A man walks through Dublin towards his wife, who is at home having an affair. Meanwhile, everyone in Ireland is saying everything that has ever been said. Loudly

The length of many of these books is one of the main reasons Britons find it difficult to skim through them. For example, the 1,225-page epic novel by Leo Tolstoy War and peace, has an average playtime of 37 hours and 48 minutes.

Dave’s research found that the vast majority (71%) of adults admitted to being impressed by someone who reads ‘the classics’ well, which could explain why so many people lie about having read those books. The study also found that men are more likely to mislead, with 48% willing to lie about their literary titles, compared to 44% of women. And 18-24 year olds are the biggest book bluffers with 77% willing to lie that they’ve read a heavy novel.

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

Dave commissioned a team of comic 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 inscrutable classics named on the list :

· The Wuthering Heights – new version sees Heathcliff sent to advice for anger management and toxic masculinity

· Moby-Dick – the classic loses 132 chapters (yet nothing of the story) and ends with a single survivor clinging to a makeshift cheese board

· farm animal – featuring Boris the boar and Starmer the horse, oh and a barnyard campaign to get “Hexit Done”

· Gatsby the magnificent – sees Gatsby as a self-proclaimed ‘Fin influencer’ – posting insane self-congratulatory and over-embellished posts on his social media

· Hamlet – where the future king plans to put everything in place for an easier life abroad – the ‘To be or not to be’ scene rewritten with striking parallels to Harry and Meghan

· dark house – embracing the chaos of this mind-blowing book by drawing parallels to dreaded conference calls and the iconic Handforth parish council meeting

The rewrites are accompanied by new illustrative cover art that talks about the plot, characters, and revamped storylines from lead illustrator Bob Venables.

Rachel Parris, stand-up comedian and star of Late Night Mash, goes over key passages for Moby Dick in a series of video readings. Every witty remake is now available for download at

Professor Sam Haddow, from St. Andrew’s University School of English, said: “It’s been a pleasure working with Dave’s writers to sillyly tackle the stuffiness surrounding some of our most revered works of literature. I hope readers get as many laughs out of these revamped stories as I do – and, perhaps, are inspired to return to the originals with fresher, less jaded eyes…”

Cherie Cunningham, Dave Channel Manager, said: “At Dave, we’re always looking for new ways to add a little humor to the mundane and everyday. For this year’s World Book Day, we wanted to not only celebrate these literary works of art, but add a comedic twist in an effort to inspire new readers, or those of us who have tried and failed, to go back and give them another chance. ”