The UK's Reading Habits Revealed

Take a look at your bedside table. How many books are you currently reading and how many are lined up waiting to be devoured? If you’re anything like the national average, you’ll have four, three of which you haven’t even started reading yet.

At The Book People, we’ve surveyed 2,000 UK adults to discover the truth behind the nation’s 2019 reading habits and how it differs by city. We asked everything from how many books Brits read on average, to what format they like to buy them in and where they prefer to read them.

The average reader...

  • Finishes 30 books a year
  • Fails to finish 7 books a year
  • Takes 5 weeks to read a book
  • Tries to read 3 books at a time
  • Reads for 43 mins per sitting
  • Has left a book on their bedside table for 3.5 months
  • Prefers to read from a physical book

The most popular books genres in the UK

It turns out we’re a nation hooked on crime and thrillers, with over a third of Brits reading these genres regularly. Mystery and drama follow in third and fourth position, with 34.9% and 32.9% of the population selecting these as their favoured genres.

Both autobiographies and biographies also made the top ten, suggesting life stories to be real page turners.

  • Crime

  • Thriller

  • Mystery

  • Autobiography

  • Drama

  • History

  • True crime

  • Cookbook

  • Romance

  • Biography


Which cities love which genres?

Do book lovers’ favourite genres change depending on where in the UK they live?

Our survey revealed that people in Southampton are romantics at heart, with locals most likely to be found reading a romantic novel, while Glaswegians prefer something with a political edge. People from Cardiff and Newcastle are seemingly most likely to be found reading to their children, with the Welsh capital favouring children’s books and Geordies selecting fairy tales.

Which cities like to read where?

Whilst there’s nothing better than getting into bed and curling up with a book, UK cities have differing opinions when it comes to the best place to catch up on their latest read.

Perhaps unsurprisingly Brighton locals are most likely to be found reading on the beach, whether that be their local beach, or somewhere hot and sunny abroad. In comparison, people from Norwich can be found reading on their daily commute or out in nature, whilst Bristolians favour their sofa or their desks.

And don’t forget Newcastle locals, who are most likely to be found on the toilet, reading fairy tales!

How do people prefer to read?

In a digital age, where audiobook sales are on the rise, our survey revealed that Brits still favour physical books, both new and second hand, over e-readers and audiobooks.



The nation’s reading habits in detail

Do you come from a city of bookworms, or are your fellow locals a little book shy?

Click the questions below to find out how you compare

  • Percentage of people who read books more than once a week
  • Number of books read in the past year
  • Unfinished books in the last year
  • How long does it take to read a book (in weeks)
  • Books lent to others