People choose books for all sorts of reasons. For some, reading is about relaxation and escapism. For others, it’s a chance to broaden their horizons and learn about cultures and experiences that are very different to their own. Some people read for their own enjoyment, while others use books as a way to connect with family and friends. But whatever their motivations, people’s reading choices are based on complex preconceptions about the kinds of titles they ought to choose.

The Big Book Review is designed to learn more about the decisions that readers make. It is a continuation of research begun by Professor Karina van Dalen-Oskam in the Netherlands. Her study asked readers to assign ‘literary quality’ to a selection of contemporary novels. This project, called The Riddle of Literary Quality, was designed to understand how unconscious biases – the stereotypes that certain groups may have about individuals or other groups of people that we are not aware of – inform reading choices, and affect decisions made by the publishing industry and people planning school curricula.

We hope our research will make people reconsider which books we value as a society. We hope to generate a diverse and socially inclusive canon fit for the twenty-first century, while stimulating literacy and readings cultures across the UK and beyond.

We need your help

Our research relies on gathering responses from as wide a range of people as possible. Whatever you read, and however you choose your next novel, we want to hear from you.

We’d like you to complete a short survey about popular contemporary fiction, and tell us what you think about a selection of recently published novels, and we’ll be asking your opinions about both books you have and haven’t read. It only takes just a few minutes to complete. You can give us your opinion about just one or two titles – but the more books you review for us , the more we’ll learn.

You can take part in the Big Book Survey here.