Why Aren’t Men Reading As Much (See: War On Men)
Bill Quick

Sunday Morning Book Thread 04-27-2014: Twilight in the House of Islam [OregonMuse]

Men and Books and Things

Says here that men aren’t reading like they used to:

Men are giving up on reading books and instead are switching to movies, internet and blogs… OnePoll did a study on behalf of UK based Reading Agency and talked to over 2,000 young and adult men. 63% of men admit they simply don’t read as much as they think they should. Many blamed a lack of time while, a fifth said they find it difficult or don’t enjoy it.

I’ve been worried about this for some time. It’s true; ever since the mid-90s, when the internet became The Internet, I’ve found I spend more and more time futzing around online, and consequently, my book-reading has declined precipitously. I had to consciously make an effort to walk away from the computer and pick up a book. Getting a Nook, and then a Nexus, helped with that. And so, incidentally, does running this book thread.

The study also drew the interesting conclusion that men are not visiting libraries or bookstores anymore. They tend to shop for more practical things or zone out on a movie on television or Netflix. Women on the other hand tend to loan books to each other and participate in the bookstore scene.

Sounds about right.

The growing preponderance of female readers has been going on for a good while now.  A more interesting question is why that is.  Men say they “don’t enjoy it.”   That might be because the bulk of books coming out of Big Publishing are purchased for publication by a very small group of mostly Ivy-League educated women who either consciously or unconsciously censor their purchases to keep them in line with their own progressive, politically correct prejudices.

So male heroes (if there are any – the male hero is becoming something of an endangered species in pop lit) must demonstrate sensitivity, an abhorrence of violence, and other such tendencies to make them more attractive to female readers.  My favorite example of such is a well-known urban fantasy hero “tough guy” who actually vomits whenever he is forced to use violence.

Guys hate that sort of stuff.  Women love it.  It reinforces their notions about How The World Should Be.

And so the whole thing has become self-reinforcing.  Chick-lit has driven men out of the readership, thus validating the feminine (and feminized male) editor’s opinion of what sort of books they need to buy.


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Bill Quick

About Bill Quick

I am a small-l libertarian. My primary concern is to increase individual liberty as much as possible in the face of statist efforts to restrict it from both the right and the left. If I had to sum up my beliefs as concisely as possible, I would say, "Stay out of my wallet and my bedroom," "your liberty stops at my nose," and "don't tread on me." I will believe that things are taking a turn for the better in America when married gays are able to, and do, maintain large arsenals of automatic weapons, and tax collectors are, and do, not.


Why Aren’t Men Reading As Much (See: War On Men) — 7 Comments

  1. My favorite example of such is a well-known urban fantasy hero “tough guy” who actually vomits whenever he is forced to use violence.

    Would the name of the series and the protagonist be the same as the name of a German city that got the crap bombed out of it about 70 years ago? The same as this series ought to have the crap bombed out of it?

  2. Why, yes, Steve. Yes it would. And it was one of the books my agent sent me as an example of the sort of thing I might think about writing if I wanted to impress the women and womanish men of NYC publishing.

    That was another thing that helped me decide not to take LIGHTNING FALL to NYC houses.

  3. I noticed the feminization of books a long time ago and switched to reading more history.

    I do read less than when I was younger. But I believe this is due to content available, not age.

    • I agree. After a while, you run out of really great stuff to read. These days, when I find something truly worth reading, and that introduces me to ideas and thoughts I’ve never had before, it’s cause for celebration.

      The worst area where the content degraded is SF. The best of today’s writers are just OK – they would be second tier behind Heinlein, Sturgeon, Card, Stephenson, or even Philip K. Dick.

      The rest of today’s writers are mostly cheating by writing fantasy and calling it SF, or simply writing depressing dystopian crap that drones on about horrible corporations, etc. These people have no vision. I guess they think that’s a different department of the collective.

        • I do like some of the ones you named. Hoyt in particular is imaginative and engaging. I’ve read a fair amount of Ringo and liked most of it, though I got bogged down in his Posleen series. I like Vernor Vinge. And, though I dislike his politics, Scalzi is a good writer.

          They are all good, but not in the league of past greats, or at least not on what they have produced thus far. Scalzi is closest – Old Man’s War is closer to the kind of stuff Heinlein, Niven, et al., used to produce than anything in the last 20 years, and the rest of that series is all pretty good (except Human Division, which was only fair).

          But, of all the SF writers I’ve seen since, oh, 1990, only Neal Stephenson ranks in the first tier for me.

          Maybe I’m just a cranky old dude pining for his lost youth, and just don’t appreciate today’s speculative fiction. But I think there’s a lot more to my distaste for modern SF than that. I just can’t find the wherewithal to care about Miles Vergosian, or to wade through Stross’ leftist meanderings. That stuff sells, so somebody likes it, but not me.

          • I’ve said it before, I think it was on this blog: David Weber is a genius. If he still had an editor who could cut his books in half, he would be a great read.

            I was discussing the Honorverse with a friend today. I finally gave up on the whole thing, between his unreadable collaborations with that Communist Flint, and his thousand-page dissertations on politics and backstabbing that had precious little action.

            I liked his Freehold series at first, and I may buy the next one, but jeez, how long is it going to take? Again, page after page of Machiavelli, and no battles and no human progress.

            As long as I mentioned that Communist Flint, I got 1632 for free on my Kindle. As far as SF goes, I can suspend disbelief on time travel, faster-than-light drives, and giant armadas of space ships having combat. I just can’t see a union organizer (thug) as a hero. Can’t read it.