Do we read to show off?

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Do we read to show off?

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Neil and Alice discuss what kind of book people like to be seen reading. Do you like to impress people with a classic book in your hands?

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Note: This is not a word-for-word transcript

Neil Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m Neil…

Alice … and I’m Alice. Sorry, wait a minute Neil. I’m just finishing this book.

Neil OK.

Alice Last page… nearly there… ohh - fantastic book!

Neil Well I’m glad you enjoyed that. I’m glad you finished your book there Alice! We’re talking about books in today’s programme. What was it you were reading there?

Alice No, never mind Neil. It’s not your kind of book. You wouldn’t like it.

Neil How do you know?

Alice Well, I just think you might read something a little more intellectual.

Neil Oh I see… Well we are talking about the kinds of books people read and what they say about them today.

Alice Yes. Perhaps you read the works of a famous writer - the classics - Charles Dickens, Shakespeare.

Neil People will think you are an intellectual. You can show off by reading these books - the classics.

Alice Or perhaps you read popular novels or romantic fiction - a light easy read.

Neil When you go on holiday - maybe to the beach - what kind of books do you read? And what do you read when you’re going to work?

Alice We’re going to hear part of a BBC interview with David Adshead from the Commuter Book Club. A commuter travels to work by bus, train or here in London, The Tube, a train that goes all over the city, mostly underground.

Neil And Alice as usual, we have a quiz question. Are you ready?

Alice Yes, absolutely.

Neil OK. It’s about classic book sales. So these days are people buying…

a) more classic books?

b) the same number of classic books?

c) fewer classic books than they used to?

Alice Oh that’s an interesting one. Tricky to guess but I’m going to say c) fewer classic books.

Neil OK, well, let’s find out the answer at the end of the programme. But now, here is David Adshead from the Commuter Club. What kind of book does he say people usually take with them to the beach?

INSERT David Adshead, Commuter Book Club People often think that, you know, traditionally you take a light easy read for the beach and on the train, um, you maybe read something very different.

Interviewer … if only to show off.

David Adshead Exactly, to appear to others to be more intellectual. But actually, what we find in this is that it really comes down to the individual - what they like to read and actually we’ve seen this summer a lot of the book sales - summer reads is generally lighter books, easier to get on with, to take away on holiday - but the big retailers have seen a shift actually - people moving sort of slightly higher brow, taking away more classic books. Sales in that way have increased.

Neil David Adshead from the Commuter Book Club there. He says that people usually - traditionally - take a light, easy read to the beach or on the train.

Alice Yes. He says these books are easier to get on with. David says that it really comes down to the individual - each person is different. But he says that there has been a shift - a change - in what people read.

Neil Yes, he says that the shops that sell books - that’s the retailers - say the books people are buying are more highbrow - the classics, as we were talking about.

Alice Absolutely. Highbrow books are read by intellectuals or perhaps the people who read these books are just showing off.

Neil Yes, maybe they are. Well I wonder if these people have read any books by Fiona Harper. She writes romantic novels - that’s stories about love.

Alice Light reading - not highbrow. She was also at this interview about the Commuter Book Club.

Neil Now, do commuters read her romantic novels on the Tube?

Alice Well here is novelist Fiona Harper talking about how she writes her romantic novels. She wants people to not stop reading her stories once they start - she wants them to be hooked.

INSERT Author Fiona Harper I think what it comes down to most of the time is you just want to write a really good story because if you write a good story then hopefully people are hooked, they’ll keep turning the pages and..

Interviewer And do you wonder whether they are reading them on holiday? I mean presumably, they’re more likely to read your stuff on holiday than when they’re sitting on the Tube being looked at by lots of other people. I don’t know.

Author Fiona Harper Possibly, although with the advent of e-readers, you can read anything you like and no one knows - or on your phone - no one knows what you’re reading.

Interviewer And that’s an important point.

Neil That’s the author Fiona Harper talking about romantic novels. So do commuters read her books on the Tube?

Alice Well perhaps you don’t want others to see you reading that stuff. It can be a bit embarrassing. It shouldn’t be, but Fiona says you can also use an e-reader.

Neil An e-reader - that’s an electronic book. Instead of pages, you read off a screen.

Alice Well if you use an e-reader or tablet, no one knows what you’re reading.

Neil So perhaps they are reading a romantic novel - no one knows. OK. Let’s take a moment to look at some of today’s words.

Alice Here they are:


show off

the classics

romantic fiction

light read

heavy read







Neil And before we go, the answer to today’s quiz question. I asked about classic books. Are people these days buying…

a) more classic books?

b) the same number of classic books?

c) fewer classic books than they used to?

Alice Yes. And I said c) fewer classic books.

Neil Well I’m afraid to say Alice that you’re wrong.

Alice Oh no.

Neil I know. They’re reading more classic books!

Alice Oh excellent!

Neil Sales of these books are apparently increasing.

Alice Well that’s good to hear.

Neil And that’s the end of today’s 6 Minute English. Please do join us again soon.

Alice And keep reading books… in English. Highbrow classics or a light read - it doesn’t matter.

Neil It doesn’t matter at all.

Both Bye.

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