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Covers lifted on what teachers do in bed

Teachers are like chefs, really: creating miracles from a sometimes unpromising mixture of ingredients and starting all over again the next day. And just like chefs, teachers spend an average of four hours 27 minutes a week reading. But while 10 per cent of chefs do most of their reading for pleasure during work breaks, teachers are more likely than any other professional group to read in bed.

The nation's reading habits are revealed in a survey published yesterday as part of World Book Day.

The survey suggests accountants read most. They spend an average of five-and-a-quarter hours per week with their nose in a book. And despite their boring reputation, they read more humorous books than any other profession.

Secretaries came second in the survey with just under five hours reading time per week, followed by MPs. Journalists came fourth, taxi drivers fifth, lawyers sixth, and teachers and chefs joint seventh.

Clergymen are at the bottom of the table, reading for only two hours and 40 minutes per week.

Accountants were delighted with the results of the survey, conducted by World Book Day organisers.

Kieran Poynter, UK chairman of accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: "This just goes to show that you shouldn't believe everything you read about the reputation of accountants."

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Richard Harries, said clergymen did not have the time for off-duty reading and spent most of their time studying theological books.

"Clergy need to keep reading in order to do their job and to remain alert theologically. Most of them do. This might count as work but for many of them it is also a pleasure," he said.

"Total relaxed reading, however, is rare because of the busyness of the life."

A quarter of the 1,600 respondents to the survey were teachers.

The favourite book for teachers (and MPs and secretaries) was Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Chefs joined the clergy in voting for The Lord of the Rings. The accountants' vote was split between Austen and Tolkien. Taxi drivers opted for Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile and journalists One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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