Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Men and literacy

Are men really the illiterate blockheads that the publishing industry makes them out to be?

I was reading a recent article in one of my writer's mags, and they were rehashing once again that men just don't read much. Oh sure, they read the occasional business how-to or sports magazine. If they're really literate, they might choose a non-fiction historical or maybe a Tom Clancy novel. But don't write a novel the target the male populace, cuz it just won't sell.

Seriously, is that really how the numbers play out, or do I have a lot of unusual men in my life? Not to knock Tom Clancy or a good non-fiction. I enjoy suspense novels and the occasional true life book too. But there is so much more out there to read, and I know a lot of guys that find it.

Science Fiction usually get relegated to the Geek Squad or Nerds, but that's not true either. I know a lot of men that enjoy Science Fiction and they don't own a toy light saber or a pocket protector. (Okay, actually one of them DOES have a pocket protector, but really, he's not a nerd.)

The article claims that because women are the shoppers, they're more likely to buy new books. And the men who do shop are brand loyal, so they stick to the same author they always read, like Clancy. Maybe the problem is that the marketing towards male readers hasn't been strong enough. Maybe publishers should push more than the latest How to Survive the Business World book to the male population.

Or maybe I'm being too hard on publishers. If we women love to shop so much, why aren't we buying the men in our lives more variety in reading materials? In my family we all tend to enjoy a wide range of books. If I read one I really love, and I think Dad will like it. I pass it on. He reads it and, lo and behold, usually loves it too.

There was even a quote in the article by a male journalist, stating that men didn't like to be involved in emotional dramas, so they don't like to read. They watch sports instead to escape. It irks me that some men will make such sweeping generalizations about their own sex. It's like saying all women read nothing but smutty romance novels. Sure, there may be a few read in our lifetime, but that doesn't compose our entire literary adventure.

If men aren't reading as many genres as they could, it's because they've been pre-conditioned to avoid looking un-manly. Read a book with a pink cover? No way. Read about adventure, romance, love, loss and redemption? Hmm, can't I find that on CNN? No? Must not need it.

Well my advice is, get a clue. If you aren't trying out new authors, that's your utter loss. Don't lump all men in with your sorry selves. I happen to know quite a few REAL men that could teach you a thing or two about finding literary escape.



chubby-girl said...

Yeah, I think that is very stereotypical. Although, I am married to a non-reader who loves to watch sports. But, that is just his personality. He has never liked reading, I would say it somewhat has to do with how they are brought up, though, his Mom enjoys books.

April Erwin said...

I realize there are some people who just aren't readers (male and female) but it just seems like such a slam against men. Go ahead, love sports, but pick up a novel every once in a blue moon.

chubby-girl said...

Exactly! I am always trying to encourage him to find ANY subject to read up on. There has to be something that he would find interesting.