Victoria Beckham never in her life read a book

Victoria Beckham says she has never read a book in her life. It's a common trait - one in four adults say books aren't for them.

"I haven't read a book in my life," the ex-Spice Girl has told a Spanish journalist. "I haven't got enough time. I prefer to listen to music, although I do love fashion magazines."

Posh is not alone in her rejection of books. For every three Britons with their noses in a bestseller, there's one adult in the UK who does not read books at all.

Research by the Office for National Statistics, commissioned by the National Reading Campaign in 2001, found a quarter of adults had not read a book in the previous 12 months. The figure rose to almost half among males aged 16-24, according to BBC.

This is despite soaring book sales - up 19% in the UK in the five years to 2004.

This rejection of books is not connected to literacy - the number of adults with reading difficulties has decreased by two million in the past decade to about five million.

Julia Strong, director of the government-funded National Reading Campaign, says reading habits are formed early.

"Children copy what they see and if you don't come from a reading home, or haven't been read to as a child, there's a much stronger chance you won't read yourself."

Others may be simply short of time.

"There are so many other claims on people's time. Most people, when they come home from a day's work, do not think, 'Oh, goody, I want to read a book now.' They just want to relax [in front of the TV]."

Nor does she believe nerdy "bookworm" stereotypes put people off reading.

"I think that's just a defence mechanism used by people who are not very good at reading. Teenagers often quit reading for a bit around the age of 14 but that's more to do with the whole growing-up process."

"[Reading] opens doors to creativity and understanding and is vital for self-esteem and fulfilment. And if life is just flicking through magazines, it's a sad reflection of humanity."

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