Friday, September 12, 2008

Men & Fiction

I've been thinking a lot about the recent stories on how women make up 80% of the fiction market. I find that number odd. I got my love of reading from my parents - my father is a big W.E.B. Griffin fan and he introduced me to such writers as Rex Stout and Ed McBain. He reads daily and his bookshelves are filled with westerns, spy novels, books with military and police themes. I spent an evening recently talking with a co-worker about his taste in fiction (Griffin, spy novels, military novels). In just the past two weeks, I've loaned out my copies of The White Mary and First Daughter to other male coworkers. I travel a lot on business and the businessmen I see at airports are frequently reading. Yes, some are reading non-fiction (I read non-fiction, too), but they are also reading novels. I have a number of male friends who are connoiseurs of science fiction and fantasy, as well as more mainstream fiction. So I have to wonder where that number comes from and who conducted these surveys. I suppose it's possible that I am personally acquainted with all the male fiction readers in North America, but it seems unlikely.

My question to all of you: What about the men in your life? Do they read? And if they do, what do they read?


Anonymous said...

Well, let's see. My dad doesn't read and hasn't read a novel since high school. He did read to me when I was little, but I've never, ever seen him reading a book for himself. My brother was forced to read for school and never read outside of it besides a phase of Star Wars books that only lasted a couple of months. My fiance does read, but he's British, so I don't think he counts in the survey, and he never buys books for himself, instead preferring to read from my immense library or borrowing off his (male) friend at work. He's of the opinion that we already have plenty of books and we don't need more, so he's not buying any. He reads pretty much anything that people recommend to him.

Of the male friends I have, I only have one who reads and he does prefer non-fiction to fiction. I even know a male fellow English major who doesn't read outside of class. It's peculiar.

Cheryl said...

My husband reads as much, if not more, than I do. His favorites are Orson Scott Card, Robert Jordan, and others in the Sci Fi genre.

Amanda said...

Let's see:

My dad read a lot of non-fiction on world war 2, airplanes, etc. But he also loved sci-fi/fantasy and read a lot of Robert Jordan, Issac Asimov, etc.

My brother loves those world war two and airplane/battleship books too but he also reads fiction. He loves the alternate history fiction and Clive Cussler.

My husband reads a bit of non-fiction (history, biographies, eco stuff) but he also likes fiction. He loves On the Kerouac, Wolfe, and some classics like Robinson Curuso, etc.

I think maybe women just talk more about reading too. Maybe we like to just discuss more then men. My husband reads a book then moves on. I would like to see more men book bloggers though which would be interesting.

Jena said...

I met my husband through we read, we write--we're very happy. ;)

Anonymous said...

Dad - reads novels, usually chooses what I call "airport books" (lighter fare)

husband - reads two newspapers daily and is in charge of the bedtime stories for the two younger kids. when he's not at home (vacation or travelling for work) he reads novels. Sometimes the dreaded airport book, sometimes something I've recommended. I got him a Kindle for his birthday and he read *Pillars of the Earth* this way and has *Edgar Sawtelle* loaded and ready to go.

LM10 and LM4 - my kids all love books, the girls and the boys. LM10 is driven to distraction by reading ... his teacher had to tell him to put the book down when he was walking in the corridor at school! Right now he's into Rick Riordan's books and re-reading the Harry Potter series (for the umpteenth time). LM4 will "read" whatever is around!

Cathy said...

The men in my family didn't read. Fortunately I married a man who does. His tastes are eclectic: thrillers, mysteries, young adult, biographies--and anything I've read and raved about. It's not uncommon to find us both sitting out in the pool with our books, or lying in bed with our books on a lazy afternoon

Traci said...

I've never seen my dad read...anything. Well, maybe the scores scrolling across the bottom of ESPN, but I think that's probably his limit. He's a prominent architect, so it's not an education or brainy thing, he just doesn't read. My mother used to read loads, but since she started her own business about 10 years ago, she's stopped almost completely. My stepmom and stepsisters are all readers, though none come close to reading the amount that I do.

My husband does read, and he reads mostly fiction (he does like non-fiction military history stuff), but he doesn't read nearly as much as I do. I'll finish 10-12 books in the time it takes him to read one. My son (who's 10), though reads probably twice as much as both of us put together.

In my experience I would think that women do read more fiction than men, but I have a hard time believing it's 80/20. 60/40, maybe.

Lana said...

It seems like most of the men in my life read - and most of them read fiction.

My boyfriend started off as a pretty much only non-fiction reader, but he's branched out into sci-fi, fantasy, and the occasional thriller.

My brother started off reading just Tom Clancy sorts of books, but he now reads a wider variety - though still mostly genre rather than so-called 'literary' fiction.

My father and step-father lean towards mysteries and thrillers (legal or otherwise). My grandfather loves sci-fi.

But definitely readers - the whole family are readers. And of fiction. So you're not the only one who knows a bunch of male readers...