Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Why Men Don't Read Fiction: A case study of a male reader.

In general, men don’t read novels. Male readers tend to read non-fiction. There plenty of people with theories about this and some have done studies in an attempt to understand it. I’ll leave that sort of thing to them. I’ll offer instead, a case study of a male reader—that of myself.

I was slow to begin reading. They stuck me in remedial reading in the second grade. It wasn’t long after that I developed a love for reading. I began to read anything I could get my hands on—literally. If someone put a book down, I would probably pick it up and begin reading. Many of those books were romance novels, because that was most of what Mom had around at the time and I quickly read through my books. I read a lot of Agatha Christi. I loved reading fantasy. I read The Owlstone Crown many times. I was interested in the Oz books for a while. School work kept me from reading part of the time, but I spent my summers reading, even when I was in college. But by that time my tastes had turned to Tom Clancy and Mary Higgins Clark. I still read a few of those Christian romance novels or Christian historical novels that I would find lying on the floor in the living room, but only if I had nothing else to read. It was embarrassing at the time and it still is. I tell you—that just ain’t what a man ought to be reading. At about the time I moved away from home, I was reading the Star Trek books.

Even during the time I was at home, I was also reading non-fiction. I would dig books with yellowed pages from the bookcase and read anything that seemed interesting. These days, I don’t read as much as I did. I find myself reading non-fiction more frequently than fiction. It isn’t that I have that much more interest in non-fiction. I think it is that I have an easier time justifying non-fiction. I read non-fiction to learn how to do something or to learn about something. It makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. The house isn’t getting cleaned, the yard isn’t getting mowed, I’m not out exercising, I’m not writing, I’m not fixing that light switch or any of that, but I’m learning something and that just might be just as important.

I still read fiction and would love to read more, but there are a number of reasons why I don’t. One reason is that there’s so much going on and it’s hard to slow down and just read for the fun of it. It is easier to pop in a DVD because I don’t have to clear as much space in my mind, but when I do sit down and just read I enjoy it immensely. I’m much more selective now. I don’t read books with lace on the cover. I also don’t care for dark fiction. I sometimes read a novel just to know what an author writes, but if I’m looking for a novel to enjoy, I’m all about escapism. Give me a world that I can enjoy hiding out in for a few hours, with a good story to go with it and I’m there.