Hello, welcome to an A Certain Bent Appeal mini-series devoted to studying the reading habits of men.
I know, men are not a particularly exotic species (unless you work in publishing). However, I posted a review two weeks ago of The Time Traveler's Wife and labeled it 'women's fiction.' Well! Several of you commented/tweeted me to say that you knew a dude or were a dude who had liked the book very much, please and thanks.
I responded that though the novel may not have been written specifically for women it had indeed been marketed primarily towards women, an idea that only intensified with the arrival of the film adaptation.
I started to think about several articles I'd encountered in the past few months that seemed to point to a sort of alienation of men from reading or at least how women read. I remembered the intense debate on BookNinja as to whether there was truly reason to belittle women's fiction. I recalled a profile of a Toronto all-male book club in The Globe and Mail (whose members seemed to be able to barely contain their disdain for women's fiction and female book clubs). There was also a great essay in the last issue of The Walrus about science fiction and for the (male) writer that they served in his youth as an escape from the messy complications of male-female relations (classic sci-fi has few female characters and even less room for sentimentality).
Then there was that article in The Telegraph last year. It cited a recent study that claimed that women were more avid readers than men - more than half of women surveyed completed a book soon after starting compared to 26% of men. Also, the men of the group were twice as likely to read only one or two books a year.
This opened a whole can of question-worms for me. What do men read these days? Do they read fiction? How often do they read and what determines their reading habits? Were they early readers and if so did the habit evolve or stall as they grew up?
There's also talk that fiction has become a female domain - women are more likely to host book clubs, to read magazines that review books (whether it be ELLE or otherwise), to blog about books etc. Women's fiction, chick lit and YA are huge genres and backed with a healthy amount of advertising/marketing. Where do guys figure into this? Or do they read it, too?
So, tomorrow you'll get meet Eric Rountree, a bookseller hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia. It stands to reason he'd read but what? Find out tomorrow.
More profiles to follow next week. Hey, and if you're a guy email me, tweet me, comment below, hell even call me at home (actually, don't do that) and let me ask you questions. I am very nice and I will send you my patented 'good vibes' via air mail direct.