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No Chick Lit Here. Bring Me Some Men.

Lately, I have seen a lot of articles (like here) outlining women’s claim on fiction.

In industry data I’ve seen, they cite 65% of books are bought by women. Okay, got it.
A majority of books are sold to women. I suppose if you broke it down further into sub-categories (fiction, biography, romance etc.), some would decidedly skew even higher to women.

But that’s a majority, not the whole enchilada, si?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this since my nightstands were analyzed. There, many of you shared anecdotes about being ‘fiction widows’, that husbands only read biographies and war histories and business books. Surely, this can’t be true for all?

We’ve learned by now that real men don’t eat quiche.
Are they off fiction now too?

Well, shoot. I missed that.
(I might have to reconsider my hobby.)

Or is it just that the public sharing of reading—the wine drinking, chit chat, and the mystery of the book club—is decidedly a ladies’ activity? Do the men dread the ritual of getting together and publicly processing at a deeper level? Is it too girly?

Look no further than this hilarious Bud Light ad run during the SuperBowl and Final Four:

The best line, of course, when she asks: “Do you like Little Women?”
And he responds: “Nah, I’m not picky.”

Well, bar none, the best book group I was ever in was women AND men. (As a shout out: hey guys, I think you are manly.) The selection of books we picked was broader, the discussion a lot richer, and frankly, I do have to credit the guys with keeping us focused on the task at hand. TT, over dinner, would invariably say: “When the hell are we going to talk about the book?”

Well, that’s a good point.

Left to our own feminine devices, my women’s book group would stray a tad too easily to other ‘critical’ topics.

I talked with a friend last week who was trying to select the new fiction pick for a couples book group. She said it was hard to bring a title because there was such a difference of opinion and everyone ‘always argues once we have read it. No one ever agrees on whether or not it was good or bad.’

Well, Exactly.
Right?

Look, I have no scientific research I am going to unveil to say why this is so. I am looking for your opinion: What’s the deal here?

I’m looking for a Few Good Men.

1. Men: (I know you, I see the subscription list) – share your insights. Are we too chick lit?
2. Women: Find me a man. Invite a male reader you know. Any man.

I’m not picky.

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8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Elizabeth Keville #

    Hi Katy, Jules turned me on to this, you are a great witty blogger!! I too loved the Bud Light comnmercial-very good. Hi to Pete, also saw the shout out to you in Christine Carter’s book (who is my neighbor!) -elizabeth

    April 19, 2010
    • Hi Elizabeth–welcome! I heard the Steve Carrell/Tina Fey movie also has a scene with him as the only man at the book club. Hilarious. I am reviewing Christine’s book over at Motherseblog.com now. Glad to have you here and will give a hello to P.

      April 19, 2010
  2. Mike #

    Hi Katy,

    Not sure how representative I am but here goes…

    I check in with you about once a week. I subscribe to your RSS feed in Google Reader, and if I see an interesting headline, I’ll click on the post. I love your blog and love reading both fiction and non- but have very little time and also need to read technical stuff for work. I’ve added several books you mentioned to Mt. To Be Read.

    The site does seem kind of Chick Lit — hey, not a problem! I do like some of the more traditionally male genres, like SF, cyberpunk and steam punk. The more dark and dystopian the better. For example, the most recent novel I read was The Windup Girl, by Paulo Unpronounceable. I loved it and hope he gets the Hugo for it this year. My next book will probably be The Big Short, based on your mention of it. That, or Tinkers.

    Hope this helps and keep up the good work!

    Your fan,
    Mike

    April 20, 2010
    • This is sooo helpful and thanks for your comment.Okay, maybe it is more like “Chick Lit Here, On Occasion. Bring Me Some Men.” I just want a diverse audience to keep the conversation interesting. So please continue to offer suggestions and stick with us! Read Tinkers with me/BookSnob book group next month. Pretty please?

      April 20, 2010
  3. Marilyn Doyal #

    Hi Katy

    I am loving your blog site. Guy and I have been attending an ecumenical guest preacher lecture every day this week. The couple are from Ireland. Today, the topic was the culture of Ireland. One of the writer’s he touched on was Colm Toibin and his book “Brooklyn” Imagine my surprise when I checked your blog today. Can’t wait to read it. On another note and following your inquiry we were in a book club years ago with your folks. Same format, the hosting couple selected the book. We almost lost your Dad and Guy after the first meeting. We read a book (sorry, I can’t remember the title) but it was about female workers in Mexico who were not being treated well. Ask your Dad sometime, he might fill you in on the details. As you know, Guy is a voracious reader. He confused Amazon being able to stereotype him by ordering three books, a story about a female ballet dancer, Catholic nun’s and a Dr. Seuss children’s book.

    April 23, 2010
  4. carole #

    Hi there BookSnob-

    I miss your posts and it’s only been one week. What are you working on? I need a book nudgin’ from you….

    April 29, 2010
  5. greenapril #

    Neither my husband nor I are in a book group, but we’re both constant fiction readers. In fact, while I often like a biography or history book thrown into my pile, he is only interested in fiction. We have very different tastes though; I like more traditional fiction (and often female writers, but not “chick lit”: Erdrich, Walbert, Amy Bloom), he is interested in experimental, modernist, and “trendy” fiction (Eggers, Lethem, Ferris). I often read or have read the books you write about, but most of his male friends who read fiction are either into the same kind he likes, or read almost exclusively sci-fi.

    In the end, my thought is that maybe it’s not that you’re too “chick lit”, it’s that many men have a slightly different taste.

    April 30, 2010
  6. A good follow up at Salon.com about why men not reading has become a self-fulfilling prophecy…take a look if interested.

    http://www.salon.com/books/laura_miller/2010/05/04/men_don_t_read/index.html

    May 5, 2010

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