Mark Terry

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Do Men Read?

June 16, 2009
Obviously, I do. My oldest son does. My youngest son is more of a reluctant reader. My brother-in-law, who didn't use to read much, reads all the time. My brother reads a lot.

But do men, in general, read a lot? My guess is, some do, some don't, but not as much as women. No conclusions why. Here's a bit from today's ShelfAwareness:

* Where are all the men? Anderson noted that her stores have not been able to sustain men's book clubs and asked the audience for suggestions. Advice included focusing on historical titles and novels driven by male characters. Fitzgerald suggested a different approach: serve beer. [Editor's note: We'll drink to that.]

To which I have to say, well, that might work, actually. 



Blogger Stephen Parrish said...

I never understood the disparity. I understand why more women than men want to be hairdressers (what do men care about hair?), but readers?

7:45 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I don't either. I would note that my mother was a voracious reader--mostly of novels. My father was probably also a voracious reader, but I rarely saw him read a book. But he read the newspaper pretty much page to page and also read a lot of magazines. I don't know that they were typical--I doubt that I am, with all the variety of reading I do, both fiction, nonfiction, periodicals, newsletters, etc., but my wife who used to read a lot of fiction tends to not read fiction these days, but reads nonfiction books and a couple magazines and newspapers.

7:48 AM  
Blogger Sandra Leigh said...

know men who read, but I can't think of a single man I know who reads fiction (I refer not to cyber-friends, but to people I know in the real world). They all claim to read only non-fiction, mostly about one war or another, and they seem a bit disdainful of fiction. It's a prejudice that baffles me.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

I don't think men read much today. It's not part of our culture today for men to read. Real men don't read! Or else, if they do read, as Sandra says, it is nonfiction. Fiction is impractical.

Recently I read some Gold Medal type crime novels from the fifties and I remember wondering if more men didn't read back then because the books seemed obviously slanted towards men. Not just that the protagonists were male but that their attitudes. A lot of books today are so blatantly slanted towards women as to be totally inaccessible to me.

Then too, there is the problem of less and less free time as work hours have increased. I think there are more older/retired readers. Whether this means people start reading more when they are older or that we are seeing the last big wave of readers aging I don't know.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I suspect it's cultural as well. I know there's also a big culture of watching sports, at least here in the U.S. I think a tremendous amount of men who claim to not be readers actually read a lot--magazines, newspapers, and, I wouldn't be surprised, work-related newsletters, etc. Women may as well. God knows, given cultural demands on women in terms of housework and child-raising, it's amazing they have time to read anything.

I'm cautious about making across-the-board generalizations (is that redundant) because clearly there are a lot of men who read, but probably not as many as women, for whatever reasons.

Eric, you mean those paperbacks with the hot woman in the tight blouses on the cover? James Reasoner's always putting those book covers up on his blog. Some of Spillane's were pretty hot, I'll admit. If men would be caught dead buying one like that now without the clerk sniffing at them or acting as if they'd just purchased a bag o' condoms is another guess entirely.

I wonder, do women get that same attitude when they buy a bodice-ripper romance with the lurid sexy artwork?

12:45 PM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Well yes they did all seem to have lurid covers, even if the covers often had little to do with the books. Probably back then people realized the contents were not as steamy as the covers. I mean, half the books on the shelves must have had those covers. Funnily enough, though the books looked like trash, those authors tended to be really good (in my opinion) writers. They wrote with great economy and force.

5:53 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

I'm often reminded that John D. MacDonald, among others, came out of that kind of publishing environment.

5:58 AM  
Anonymous Zoe Winters said...

Men who read are sexy. I would never have married a man who didn't read.

2:22 AM  

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