Scotland’s favourite book a novel ‘so bad it gives novels a bad name’

LITERARY snobs and lovers of the Scottish novel look away now. Scotland’s favourite book is the best-selling and much-maligned The Da Vinci Code, according to a new poll.

A Top 10 list puts Dan Brown’s 2003 murder mystery novel at the top of the pile of Scots’ favourite reads, closely followed by Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and CS Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Alongside The Da Vinci Code, which was made into a film starring Tom Hanks, the list also includes two books from the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, all of which have been made into movies.

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There is, however, no place on the list for any Scottish novels, with English classics including Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and Great Expectations helping make up the top ten.

Indeed, it seems Scots’ reading habits are not dissimilar to those south of the Border, with only Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, JRR Tolkein’s The Two Towers and Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo appearing in the Scottish list, but not the overall British Top 10.

Marc Lambert, chief executive of the Scottish Book Trust, said: “The survey shows Scottish readers are like any other readers in that they like entertaining books and that they are part of the British book-buying public. It’s a pity there’s not a Scottish title in there.

“I suspect a lot of it comes down to the context of how this poll was conducted and what was asked. The list could have been put together from readers anywhere – it’s a generic list full of titles which you see coming up time and time again because they are best-sellers.”

Asked about the appearance of To Kill a Mockingbird in second place, he added: “I suspect the reason why people mention it is because they read it when they were at school. I would certainly take these results with a pinch of salt – I don’t think they’re telling us much.”

One of the best-selling novels of all time, The Da Vinci Code tells the story of a murder in Paris’ Louvre museum, which has connections to a religious conspiracy involving the Catholic Church’s Opus Dei organisation.

Although the novel has garnered sales in the tens of millions, critics were divided over its literary merits. Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie described it as “a novel so bad that it gives novels a bad name”.

The survey, which was carried out by eye health supplement firm ICaps and polled more than 1,000 adults across the UK, found books come behind websites and blogs in terms of their popularity.

However, more people continue to read paperbacks than use e-book readers.

It also found that Londoners spent significantly longer looking at social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, averaging 72 minutes a day compared with 34 minutes for the rest of Britain.

The books which appear in the overall British list, but not the Scottish Top 10 are JRR Tolkein’s The Hobbit, Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.