When I first met my husband and he took me back to his flat (for nothing more exciting than a cup of tea and egg mayonnaise sandwiches if I remember rightly), I was thrilled to find the place filled with books.

Not just any books. Books by foreign authors with names I had only ever heard of on University Challenge. People like Jean-Paul Sartre, Emile Zola, Balzac and Franz Kafka.

To a girl whose previous boyfriends only ever had their heads buried in Haynes' manuals it was refreshing. I had always wanted to meet a literary man, someone like my dad with nice interests and hundreds of books, and at last I had.

Shame that from that day to this, he hasn't opened one of them. Not one. Not even to dust them down, because, not having looked at them since he left college (which is the only reason he owned them in the first place), they have taken on a neglected appearance.

My husband doesn't read books.

Occasionally he will attempt to (about ten pages of Scoop, eight of Bill Bryson's Lost Continent) but my hopes of seeing him on an evening, sitting in a high-backed leather chair in our library (in my dreams we had both, of course), deep in a book have been dashed.

When we first met I assumed he was very bookish and his ability to answer my questions about his collection and even recommend some to me (I loved all Zola's but I'm obviously not high-brow enough to appreciate the others) was more endearing than any bunch of red roses.

Women love a man who reads. Results of a poll released today reveal that 85 per cent of women say a man could increase his chances of getting a date by talking about a favourite book.

That would surely depend upon the book. I don't think I would go a bundle on any man who spouted forth over the virtues of Jim Davidson's Red, White And Very Blue or Anthea Turner's autobiography.

Equally off-putting would be anything by Jeffrey Archer.

The survey, by Penguin Books, found that more than half the men polled believed that flattering a woman would be enough to impress her.

To remedy this, and turn men away from TV football matches and entice them into bookshops, Penguin is sending a sexy model on to the streets offering £1,000 prizes to men spotted reading a chosen title which will change every month.

I tell a lie when I say that my husband does not read. He does, every night. But only in large print, with no more than a couple of dozen words on the page. They are generally about fairies, goblins or Katie Morag.

He reads children's books. Every night he reads a story or poem to my daughters, which is more than I do. I read a couple of novels a year, usually in the bath, but I rarely read to the children.

I'm not sure whether even a sexy woman could tempt my husband back to his books (I don't doubt that he has read them - he always seems to get the answers right when they crop up on University Challenge).

But I think they will lie abandoned in boxes in the garage for years to come. It's probably no bad thing. We have just moved to a house which does not have book shelves.

Updated: 08:49 Tuesday, June 15, 2004