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Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => Book Talk => Topic started by: Lenzi on September 28, 2007, 04:00 PM

Title: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Lenzi on September 28, 2007, 04:00 PM
Here's an interesting piece by Eric Weiner from NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=14175229

Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: DanetteFromOrlando on September 28, 2007, 05:44 PM
It's cuz we're smarter!
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Ellie on September 28, 2007, 06:01 PM
That was an interesting article, Lenzi.  Thanks for sharing!
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Lenzi on September 29, 2007, 09:11 AM
The article says the average American reads only *four* books a year (one in a handful doesn't read any at all) and children read even less. I don't know if the part about kids could be right--even if they don't choose to, they are required to read lots of novels for school reading programs all through the year.... The article's findings were disappointing.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Bish on September 30, 2007, 02:16 PM
I wondered about men not reading fiction. What about all those very male oriented spy books and mystery books and SciFi books? My husband reads them, along with a lot of other stuff. Surely he isn't unique. Not that would be surprised if he is (cause he is to me  :love) but as my dad always used to say (he was a scientist) you find what you test for.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Lenzi on September 30, 2007, 07:11 PM
He must be in the coveted fraction of men who read!
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Debs on September 30, 2007, 07:45 PM
Thanks for sharing this very interesting article!  I hope there's another article soon that shows an increase in reading for EVERYBODY!  :) 
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: justpat on October 01, 2007, 05:11 AM
That is very interesting.  I always wondered why.  I'm the only male in a local book club, and even though we read non-gender specific books, we just can't find another male to join.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: fallpeople on October 01, 2007, 09:07 AM
The fact that boys read Harry Potter says to me that when the social pressure and expectation is there, boys will read. People expected boys to be reading those books, so they read them ... and enjoyed them.

Otherwise, do we expect boys to read? When they're learning to enjoy books in elementary schools, most of their teachers are women. Bruce Coville talked about this at Chautauqua this year. Librarians and teachers are women. In most homes, Mom reads books to her children. Books are handed to kids by women, for some kids exclusively by women. Add in the relatively stronger pressure boys get to play in sports programs with their spare time, and we've set a social expectation that boys don't read for pleasure. IMHO.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: DanetteFromOrlando on October 01, 2007, 09:11 AM
My husband reads every night, a habit he picked up from me. I started passing along adult mysteries to him, but now he'll even read an MG or YA novel if I recommend it!
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Lenzi on October 01, 2007, 10:21 AM
The fact that boys read Harry Potter says to me that when the social pressure and expectation is there, boys will read. People expected boys to be reading those books, so they read them ... and enjoyed them.

Otherwise, do we expect boys to read? When they're learning to enjoy books in elementary schools, most of their teachers are women. Bruce Coville talked about this at Chautauqua this year. Librarians and teachers are women. In most homes, Mom reads books to her children. Books are handed to kids by women, for some kids exclusively by women. Add in the relatively stronger pressure boys get to play in sports programs with their spare time, and we've set a social expectation that boys don't read for pleasure. IMHO.

You bring up some good points. It sounds true to me. My husband reads all the time (the books are mostly academic--he teaches and researches--but my sons see him reading all the time, so they probably have learned to value books through his (our) example. My six-year-old chose to take in his thick DICK AND JANE book of collected stories to talk about how much he loves reading it in show-and-tell today. He plans on reading one to the class.  :D
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: C.K. on October 01, 2007, 02:51 PM
My husband is an avid reader - mainly of literary novels.

I agree with you, fallpeople. In fact, I think we can put down a lot of gender differences down to social pressure/training.  I definitely don't believe that women intrinsically "possess a greater emotional range" than men - how to explain male writers with great emotional depth like Ian McEwan if that's the case?
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Jen on October 01, 2007, 03:17 PM
Thanks for this link, Lenzi.  This is actually an area that I'm just starting to do some psychological research on in grad school.  So hopefully in a couple of years, I'll have some new insight to report!
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: JustinDono on October 02, 2007, 09:11 AM
What is this "reading" you speak of?  ???
Imma watch me some TeeVee.

Seriously though I'm not surprised.  When I usually do see adult men reading, it's some non-fiction "X For Dummies" or other How To book that they're really only looking at in order to figure out how to solve a problem, then they toss it.  Unless I'm at college.  Then every guy I see has his face in a book.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Joni on October 02, 2007, 09:33 AM
This is actually an area that I'm just starting to do some psychological research on in grad school.  So hopefully in a couple of years, I'll have some new insight to report!

Ooh, sounds like fun, Jen. Maybe you can drop us a few tidbits and bones as your research proceeds! Don't want to have to wait entire years!  :D
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Lenzi on October 02, 2007, 09:42 AM
What is this "reading" you speak of?  ???
Imma watch me some TeeVee.

 :dr
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Vijaya on October 02, 2007, 10:51 AM
It's cuz we're smarter!

Yeah!

But seriously, I do think girls have more facility with language than boys, esp. at the younger ages.  But it all evens out eventually.  Reading is a habit, I think.  Both my husband and I are bookish (though it's true that my husband reads more NF than me) but from the time our children were babies, we read to them and they in turn read to us the day they could.  They're big readers ... and read a huge variety of stuff because they enjoy it.  We also don't watch TV or play video games so reading (among other things) is the big entertainment around here ... 

Vijaya
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Marcia on October 02, 2007, 01:53 PM
Maybe reading is something that kicks in later for men, when they have more free time. At my library there are many little boys, some young to middle-aged men, and lots of retired men. For fiction, they like Patterson, Woods, Tapply, Cussler, etc. Some of the older men like to discuss their favorites with whoever will listen, enough so that I started up a senior men’s book discussion group. Quite a few men have joined. One or two of them had tried other groups before but they didn’t always like the book choices. In this group they have chosen mostly nonfiction and biographies to discuss so far. A recent selection was Alistair Cooke’s “The American Home Front, 1941-42.”
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Lenzi on October 02, 2007, 02:12 PM
Cool! That's great that you encouraged their particular reading interests.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: andracill on October 02, 2007, 02:58 PM
My brother loved to read when he was in elementary school...but when he got into jr high, sports usually took up all his time.  DH said the same was true for him.  DH pretty much stopped reading (other than what he needed for school), but when we started dating, I read ENDER'S GAME out loud to him, and he now goes through spurts where he'll read voraciously...but he gets burned out.  He'll stop for long periods at a time (like months on end).

My brother only reads nonfiction (though he did read the first few HPs -- and he rereads the LOTR trilogy every few years).  My dad also only reads nonfiction (though all the time -- he's definitely a voracious reader).  I've seen in my son (who's only five) an interest in nonfiction already...whereas fiction has to be very realistic or humorous for him to focus on.  Maybe it's a personality thing?
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Jen on October 02, 2007, 04:13 PM
Ooh, sounds like fun, Jen. Maybe you can drop us a few tidbits and bones as your research proceeds! Don't want to have to wait entire years!  :D

Sure!  I also may recruit you guys to PARTICIPATE in some experiments, because I'm also working on a project that involves looking at how writers vary from non-writers along certain psychological dimensions, such as empathy...
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: 1846 on October 02, 2007, 04:21 PM
My brother only reads nonfiction (though he did read the first few HPs -- and he rereads the LOTR trilogy every few years).  My dad also only reads nonfiction (though all the time -- he's definitely a voracious reader).  I've seen in my son (who's only five) an interest in nonfiction already...whereas fiction has to be very realistic or humorous for him to focus on.  Maybe it's a personality thing?

As a teacher, I can tell you research shows that boys in general have a distinct preference for nonfiction books.  Statewide here in Iowa, there is a strong push to increase non fiction choices in our classrooms for the direct purpose of drawing more boys into a reading habit.

As a child I had a strong preference for the biographies of composers and presidents as the core of my reading choices; and although I loved novels as well, I didn't begin reading fiction as my predominent choice until adulthood.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Jen on October 02, 2007, 04:26 PM
As a teacher, I can tell you research shows that boys in general have a distinct preference for nonfiction books.  Statewide here in Iowa, there is a strong push to increase non fiction choices in our classrooms for the direct purpose of drawing more boys into a reading habit.

Do you by any chance know any references for that "research" (who did it, where it was published... anything would be helpful)?
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Sam Hranac on October 02, 2007, 04:43 PM
I finally got around to reading this thread. ;)

I've noticed the same thing about male readers just among my friends and relatives. If a guy reads, it is often non-fiction. Those (like me) that chew through fiction are the odd men out. We are programmed to DO - Destroy - Overcome! Reading is (considered) passive.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Bill on October 02, 2007, 05:30 PM
When I read, I generally don't see any visuals.  I just read the words.  My wife on the other hand, sees or imagines the characters and actions.  I wonder if most men tend to read like I do which takes all the fun out of it.  I do love creating and that's why I write.

Bill
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: wolfie712 on October 02, 2007, 10:56 PM
What an interesting article, Lenzi!  Thanks for sharing.  I am an avid reader (although I'm having a hard time finding time to read right now since I have a 3-year-old and an 8-month old!), but my husband does not like to read.  He never has, even when he was in elementary school.  I devoured books as a little girl.  I remember reading all the Little House books before finishing second grade.  My brother, on the other hand, despised reading.  We lived in the same house, had access to lots of books both at home and at school, and yet he just had no interest in reading.  To this day, he does not read for pleasure (unless you count "Dilbert" comics in the Sunday paper  ;)).  I've always wondered why some people are drawn to reading, and some are not.

When I was a 5th grade teacher, I always paid attention to what my students were reading.  Interestingly enough, fiction was more popular than nonfiction.  Perhaps it's because I read to my students every day--yes, I was the only upper-grade teacher in my school who had "Storytime", but my kids LOVED it.  I read Harry Potter, Holes, Walk Two Moons, Bridge to Terabithia.... all sorts of wonderful stories.  Most of my kids would check out copies of these books from the library to read along with me.  Both the boys and girls did this.  Two of the strongest readers I ever had were boys--they could read Tolkien and high school level books without batting an eye--and comprehend them!  They came in to my class as strong readers, so I can't take any credit, but I always found it odd that boys were "supposed" to read less when many of my boys read a lot.  I would love to see some more research on this issue, as I've always been fascinated by how/what people read and why.

Lastly, I just wanted to comment on something Bill said.  He said his wife sees visuals and images when reading.  That's exactly how I read too.  When I scan a page, it's like there's a movie playing out in my mind.  From rugged, beautiful landscapes to quirky characters, I can see everything that's happening while I read.  To be honest, I always thought it was like that for everyone.  ::)

Laura  :)
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Lenzi on October 02, 2007, 11:08 PM
Lastly, I just wanted to comment on something Bill said.  He said his wife sees visuals and images when reading.  That's exactly how I read too.  When I scan a page, it's like there's a movie playing out in my mind.  From rugged, beautiful landscapes to quirky characters, I can see everything that's happening while I read.  To be honest, I always thought it was like that for everyone.  ::)

Laura  :)

I also was very surprised to hear Bill's description of reading--I just assumed everyone pictured what was happening in the story. Interesting! Are there others here who do not picture visuals when they read fiction?


I recalled reading a Newsweek article some time ago that had to do with the autistic spectrum of "extreme maleness" and googled it. Not exactly about reading, but it may be of interest as a related topic on empathy and gender. Here's the link and an excerpt:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3069769/

Cambridge University psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen has a thesis that bears on all these questions. In a bold new book called “The Essential Difference,” he de-fines autism as an imbalance between two kinds of intelligence: the kind used to understand people (he calls it “empathizing”) and the kind used to understand things (“systemizing”). Though most of us have both abilities, studies suggest that females are better than males at empathizing, while males have a stronger knack for systemizing. By Baron-Cohen’s account, autism is just an exaggerated version of the male profile—an extreme fondness for rule-based systems, coupled with an inability to intuit people’s feelings and intentions.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Jen on October 02, 2007, 11:35 PM

I recalled reading a Newsweek article some time ago that had to do with the autistic spectrum of "extreme maleness" and googled it. Not exactly about reading, but it may be of interest as a related topic on empathy and gender. Here's the link and an excerpt:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3069769/

Cambridge University psychologist Simon Baron-Cohen has a thesis that bears on all these questions. In a bold new book called “The Essential Difference,” he de-fines autism as an imbalance between two kinds of intelligence: the kind used to understand people (he calls it “empathizing”) and the kind used to understand things (“systemizing”). Though most of us have both abilities, studies suggest that females are better than males at empathizing, while males have a stronger knack for systemizing. By Baron-Cohen’s account, autism is just an exaggerated version of the male profile—an extreme fondness for rule-based systems, coupled with an inability to intuit people’s feelings and intentions.


Simon was my graduate advisor at Cambridge (hence my interest in studying empathising and fiction!)- I'm actually flying to the UK tomorrow to meet with him and go over my dissertation from last spring.  :)
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Lenzi on October 03, 2007, 01:09 AM
Wow--I look forward to hearing more about your work. It's a fascinating subject.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Paulahy on October 03, 2007, 10:04 AM
Yeah!

But seriously, I do think girls have more facility with language than boys, esp. at the younger ages. 


Vijaya, I agree with this.  I see it first-hand at home.  I have two girls and they are talkers!!  It's as if girls have a natural attraction to language, be it talking or reading.

I'm not much of a phone person.  But does that stop my three y.o. from picking up a play phone and having a conversation with an imaginary person?  She didn't pick that up from watching me, I can tell you that.  I avoid the phone at all costs!

So it's gotta be that natural gift of hearing, see, being near the spoken word.  She also really loves books too.

There's always exceptions to the rules, of course.

-P
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Sam Hranac on October 03, 2007, 10:42 AM
Quote
But seriously, I do think girls have more facility with language than boys, esp. at the younger ages. 

True.

Hey BILL! I see pictures - I practically smell stuff when I read. I heard it described as generating an energy field or going into a trance. That's where I am when I read. But I bet most males don't get there.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Vijaya on October 03, 2007, 11:27 AM
Simon was my graduate advisor at Cambridge (hence my interest in studying empathising and fiction!)- I'm actually flying to the UK tomorrow to meet with him and go over my dissertation from last spring.  :)

Cool.  I think boy/girl innate differences are interesting.  Clearly there's a spectrum.

My boy is very boyish.  And my girl is definitely girlish, with her love of dolls and playing mommy, but she likes most of the boy things too.  She seems more balanced to me.  My boy was a late talker ... in fact he pretty much only grunted until he was about three.  He's very visual ... knew his alphabet by the time he was two and he learned to say Mama because I spelled it for him.  I saw all the stages of normal language development in him in the space of a month when he decided to speak.  It was interesting.  But both kids have loved music, and stories and books from the time they were babies.

Although I'm very female, I've been told I think like a man (sometimes in very accusatory tones) because I'm logical, level-headed and calm during crises.  I'm not given to tears much.

So I am curious whether this reading business is related at all to gender.  Yes, it does seem to be true that men read less than women, but why?  Is it because it's innate -- y chromosome testosterone thing?  Or is it because of our culture and habits?  Remember, that in the olden days, it was only the men who read, because women were illiterate.

Much food for thought.
Vijaya
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Steve on October 03, 2007, 11:39 AM
I have met few (male or female) who read as much as I have and how much I do read. 
HOWEVER, my period of life as an athlete (no one famous, just active) definitely had a considerably negative impact on my reading volume.  There are only 24 hours in a day.
So I read far less during high school, college and in the post-college period of serious men's leagues (two or three a week).
Of course, women get involved in athletics too - don't jump on me for suggesting otherwise.  I personally know plenty of women more athletic than I.
But a lot of guys go deep into athletics for competition and male bonding and fellowship.

Steve
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: MaudeStephany on October 03, 2007, 12:03 PM
Hey everyone... I just wanted to weigh in on this one as both my hubby and I discussed the original article/study extensively and we came up with a resolution that was entirely different from what the 'scientist" determined.
In his study, he gave away free novels to people on the street. He said that he only managed to convince a few guys to take it.

We (my husband and I) think that this just illustrates that men are more distrusting of things that are being given away. They tend to look at a "freebie" as something that is going to require an action on their part - where they'll get hit with tons of spam or phone calls or... you get the idea. I think that the person who did the 'test' misjudged why men didn't want his book. Even I am suspicious of people giving something away - my first reaction is normally "if it's free, it can't be very good or valuable" I don't like clutter and I don't need more "junk" in my life... why would I want a "freebie" that is unquantifiable at that moment? That doesn't mean that, if I have entered a contest, I wouldn't like my freebie (thank you so much Lill, my daughter and I still love reading There's a Yak in my Bed) - but it is something I have CHOSEN rather than have thrust upon me.

Now, many of you men here have already said that you prefer to read non fiction - however, that doesn't mean that you don't like to read fiction. I know that my husband would choose a nf title before a fiction one. However, he also enjoys narrative non-fiction (such as Flags of our Fathers) and fiction based on a historical/scientific concept/event (I just picked up one about Tiannamen Square that he is all gung-ho to read). He loves arthurian legends and stuff about the Templars (and other masons like that... he is a Mason). So, I think that it is also that men are more selective about what they want to read in terms of fiction. They don't like investing time in something that they are uncertain about (my guess is that they wait for the book reviews on new authors in a genre that interests them... but I am willing to be proved wrong).

Maude  :jump
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Sam Hranac on October 03, 2007, 12:14 PM
I like the wrong conclusion response. I see it all the time. I saw a study where they put people, alone, out on a rope bridge and then interviewed them afterwards. They discovered that people longed for closeness after such an experience. They decided that absence does make the heart grow fonder. My take was that when people are afraid, they want help. The study must have been devised by someone that had no fear of heights.


FYI: I HATE reading non-fiction.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Barbara Eveleth on October 03, 2007, 12:28 PM
Vijaya, it is quite common for late talkers to be visual. I didn't talk till I was about four. And never in school until I was in second grade. And then reluctantly. I talk now, often to myself. And I'm an artist.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Vijaya on October 03, 2007, 01:04 PM
Good point, Maude.  It is often surprising what we do end up "measuring". 

Wow! Barb!  You were a really late talker.  My son is a big talker now, and the most social one in our family.

Paula, my daughter too.  Loves to talk on the phone even though I can't stand it.  I love watching her play with her little animals and people ... it's like a play and she talks in ALL their voices.  Apparently, I talked too much as a child, too.

Vijaya
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Barbara Eveleth on October 03, 2007, 01:05 PM
Sorry, I meant I could. I just didn't.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Marcia on October 03, 2007, 02:16 PM
I agree with Maude and also thought the study was misinterpreting who likes to collect stuff into who likes to read. They have no way of knowing who actually read the novels that were handed out. Maybe women just like to shop more than men (what a novel idea!) and know a good deal when they see one. My daughter and I are always looking hungry at the mall food courts, so we’ll be offered free samples of chicken or whatever, whereas son and husband will take no part in this embarrassing charade. I also agree that most traits can be found in both males and females. My kids are voracious readers, but the boy is more of a talker than the girl. She takes after me.  ;D
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: wolfie712 on October 03, 2007, 10:18 PM
I think the main focus of the article isn't McEwan's "admittedly unscientific experiment."  That was just the introduction.  The article goes on to cite real AP surveys and studies, and I found these key points really interesting:

Quote
Among avid readers surveyed by the AP, the typical woman read nine books in a year, compared with only five for men. Women read more than men in all categories except for history and biography.

When it comes to fiction, the gender gap is at its widest. Men account for only 20 percent of the fiction market, according to surveys conducted in the U.S., Canada and Britain.


I wouldn't say this article is misinterpreting anything.  McEwan's "study" was just a jumping off point.

Laura  :)
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Lenzi on October 03, 2007, 10:39 PM
I agree, Laura. The opening of the article was about an author (not a scientist) who merely made an observation while handing out novels. It was purely anecdotal, and the writer of the article admitted it was not scientific.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Jaclyn Dolamore on October 03, 2007, 10:47 PM
Funny, I'd never really noticed a gender imbalance in my own life.  My mom loves to read, but my dad's the one who ALWAYS makes time for it, and all through my teen years he'd swipe books I left lying around.  (We both share a love of non-fiction, especially quirky history, although he reads fiction too.)  My female friends read growing up, but I often shared more tastes with my male friends, talking about Xanth, DragonLance, and the X-Men.  When I worked at Sears, it was always guys who'd start chatting Harry Potter with me when I read it in the break room; same thing happened when I was reading Asimov in there too.  At my current job, I've talked more books over with a guy than anyone else too (out of an overwhelmingly female staff)--he's even a big Jane Austen fan, of all things.  And my boyfriend loves to read, too, although he's just slow at it, so I read more than he does.

Maybe I've just always attracted more guy readers because I read a lot of "guy" stuff.  (Comics, fantasy, sci-fi in the case of Asimov, and historical nonfic.)

Of course, lately I just read YA, mostly...
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: witzl on October 04, 2007, 02:13 AM
I've just discovered this thread and I find this discussion fascinating.  My husband and I are both great readers and come from reading families. I was amused to see that Sam never reads non-fiction, and Life-on-Mars, though female, does. My husband too seldom reads non-fiction, whereas I cannot get enough of it and devour biographies and memoirs. I especially like books about war and the memoirs of soldiers; I don't think I could bribe my husband to read one of those.  My husband has always been a reader, even when he was doing a lot of sports in high school. He reads more fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and YA fiction than I, and I am indebted to him for introducing me to many great children's and YA authors. But he is good enough to remember that if it hadn't been for me, he would not have read 'The Secret Garden,' a book he enjoyed very much, to my amazement.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Marcia on October 04, 2007, 05:12 AM
"I wouldn't say this article is misinterpreting anything.  McEwan's "study" was just a jumping off point."

You're right. I was only commenting on the opening which is a fine jumping off point. It's a well-done, interesting article and I'm glad Lenzi brought it to our attention. It's interesting how many other subjects can come out of it, too.

Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: hazelnut on October 04, 2007, 12:26 PM
I smiled when I saw the part in the article where in a bookstore, men will head for the non-fiction and women for the fiction. Not us! My husband will head for the magazines and I will head for the children's section.  :D

My husband grew up in a home where the only thing his dad ever read was the paper, and who depended on the T.V. to relax (and still does). I grew up in a home where my dad read the paper, but also read non-fiction books in the evenings and always carried the Reader's Digest or other magazine if he thought he'd have to sit in a waiting room for awhile. So I grew up where everyone read more than they watched T.V. and my husband grew up just the opposite.

Just the other day, my husband was watching the T.V. tour of a big stylish home of a hockey player (husband and father of 3 small kids). There were widescreen T.V.'s in practically every room, and lovely furnishings, and plenty of toys and playthings ... but no bookcases anywhere, not even for the kids. I pointed that out to my husband (who was admiring the house) and he hadn't even noticed. Well, I NOTICED!

There may be some things in life my kids are deprived of, but it's NOT books.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Sam Hranac on October 04, 2007, 01:08 PM
There may be some things in life my kids are deprived of, but it's NOT books.
You're probably doing a lot right in both ways (given them books and depriving them of other things).
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: ecb on October 04, 2007, 01:38 PM
Despite Hazelnut's (perfectly valid!) observations, I have to say that the presence of TV or the amount you watch has absolutely, positively NOTHING AT ALL to do with how much you read.

I grew up in a TV family--and it's something we still enjoy--watching together, talking about shows we watch, etc.  I know it's practically sagrilege to admit this *here,* but I'd have an easier time giving up books than TV (I seriously think this has something to do with my ability to MAKE MORE BOOKS, though.  I'm not capable of replacing the TV all on my own!).  My TV goes on at 5 am, and goes off at midnight (or later).  It's not as if I WATCH all that time, please note!  It's primarily for background noise for our animals (so they can't hear the idiots behind us putting up new siding, etc.).

HOWEVER... my parents were journalists.  EVERYONE in my house read.  We had magazine subscriptions, three newspaper subscriptions, made weekly pilgrimages (on foot!) to the Bookmobile, and spent all our mall time and money at Waldenbooks.

I grew up reading a lot of what my big brother read, although our tastes have diverged in recent years (this is a source of sadness to me).  My brother would get in trouble for reading instead of doing his schoolwork.  He did so poorly in third grade math, my parents had to take away his books as a penalty.  In their defense, he grew up to be a mathematician... so things worked out in the end.

Our grandparents' Christmas and birthday gifts were always books, or money to buy books.  Someone in our house was always reading something (quite often AS we were watching TV!).

But I'm probably the only one who limited her reading to almost exclusively novels.  I find magazines poorly (or incompletely) written, the newspaper exhausts me... and though I read a goodly share of non-fiction, it's seldom for pure pleasure (but for research for a novel).

My husband's experience was pretty similar--his family watched a lot of TV growing up, too... but their house, like ours, is FULL of books.  His mom is one of my best book-buddies--we swap great reads all the time, and always have a stack to trade whenever we get together.  His father is a voracious reader of non-fiction, on a few very specific interests.  I should also point out that my parents have advanced academic degrees, while neither of DH's parents went to college, and his father has his GED.  So in our case, it has nothing to do with how much formal education was received, either.  DH's tastes in reading are "typically male."  He'll read his own share of fiction... but he'll read a lot of non-fiction, magazines, comics, and big long things he's printed off the internet.  What he reads is usually very closely related to whatever he's "into" at a particular moment.  He's on a "Star Trek" kick right now, so he's got a lot of "making of 'Star Trek'" books, the recent Christie's auction catalogue, etc.

***
My background is in anthropology, and I'll put that hat on now.  I think females tend to read a lot for the pure pleasure of it--reading for the sake of reading-- but males read to "get" something out of it--knowledge, education, how to do something, etc.  When I was growing up, my father *never* read fiction unless it was in Spanish, a language he spoke fluently.  Reading fiction in Spanish was like a mental workout for him.  One of his favorite leisure reads (which I'd see him crack open on countless Saturday mornings growing up) was an Arabic language primer!  And I've already described DH's reading habits--lots of stuff to inform whatever his current interest is.

Judging from the TV tastes of my family, it has little to do with empathy or caring about the characters in a story--my dad loves "The Dead Zone" just as much as I do, and has been asking me lately what I think will happen now that a love interest has developed between two characters!  Which I could, um, kinda care less about :dr.  Because if males can care about imaginary characters on a TV screen, there's no reason they can't do it on a page. 

But reading is just a wee bit more *active* than watching TV... and as one of the men here pointed out, men are programmed to DO... so reading should be an activity that ACCOMPLISHES something.



Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Vijaya on October 04, 2007, 01:54 PM
I love the story about your brother, ecb.  My mother took away my books as punishment (or perhaps it was something about fresh air) and I swore I would never do that to my kids.  I've turned into my mother.  Now, I, too, confiscate books from both kids ...

I also think that the mere presence of books and magazines can turn kids into readers, rather than the absence of TV.

ecb -- isn't pleasure a goal in and of itself?  If many men don't read because they don't get pleasure out of it, then the question is why?

Vijaya
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: ecb on October 04, 2007, 03:14 PM
I don't think it's that they don't get pleasure out of it... I think that they don't see pleasure as a goal in and of itself.  You don't, for instance, see a lot of men indulging in a spa day. ;)  A (stereotypical) man would spend a day off tinkering with the car.  Most typical women would call that a chore, and use a day off for a day OFF (if such a thing were possible :dr).
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Vijaya on October 04, 2007, 05:30 PM
Ah ... the lightbulb goes on.

You don't, for instance, see a lot of men indulging in a spa day. ;) 

Me neither ... gosh, it feels like I'm missing something. 
By the way, I did go to the original Spa (in Belgium) and they had bath houses and such.

Vijaya

Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: hazelnut on October 04, 2007, 05:47 PM
Quote
You don't, for instance, see a lot of men indulging in a spa day.

I wouldn't know, I've never gotten to indulge in one myself. Just had to say that.

Elizabeth, I know some homes like yours where people watch quite a lot of T.V., movies, and read a lot of books and print too. After all, these are all wonderful ways of getting information and entertainment. But I know of more households, where people watch T.V. and surf the net and perhaps read the newspaper, and never crack open a book. And with all the wealth of wonderful books out there (and free to check out from libraries), I feel that's a real shame.
 
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: C.K. on October 04, 2007, 05:49 PM
I think if you're spending all day tinkering with your car you probably are considering that fun. At least, that's definitely how I feel about tinkering with my webpage  :). A day spa on the other hand sounds like cruel and unusual punishment.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Joni on October 05, 2007, 09:55 AM
Because if males can care about imaginary characters on a TV screen, there's no reason they can't do it on a page. 

It's pretty well documented, though, that male brains are much more visually-oriented than female brains, which I think is a factor for why guys are so much more into video games, computer games, and (I think) TV than girls, on average.

I don't think it's that they don't get pleasure out of it... I think that they don't see pleasure as a goal in and of itself

LOL... except maybe for sex, which I think is a pretty big "except."  ;D
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: ecb on October 05, 2007, 10:13 AM
No, but see--that's useful, too.  Or my friends with kids tell me, at any rate. ;)
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Mr. K. on October 06, 2007, 01:05 PM
Interesting topic.

I'm a teacher and we've discussed this many times in meetings. From these discussions it seems boys like nonfiction, how to books, fantasy, and science fiction the best. I've encouraged our librarian to purchase some graphic novels.  :)
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: C.K. on October 06, 2007, 01:43 PM
There's actually a survey out now that shows more women than men currently have game consoles:

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/techdigest/20071001/ttc-more-women-own-games-consoles-than-m-e870a33_1.html (http://uk.news.yahoo.com/techdigest/20071001/ttc-more-women-own-games-consoles-than-m-e870a33_1.html)

And a 2006 study found there were more women gamers than men in the 25 to 34 category:

http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/apr2006/id20060419_397084.htm?chan=innovation_game+room_top+stories (http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/apr2006/id20060419_397084.htm?chan=innovation_game+room_top+stories)
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Joni on October 06, 2007, 10:07 PM
No kidding, C.K.!? I'm amazed. :o Thanks for sharing those. I wonder how the survey was done, though; if it was an online survey the results would be very, very skewed. And I wonder how much the age group affects. I know zillions of guys over 35 who are gamers, and not a single woman. I'm sure as we ancients die off, though, it'll level out!  ;D
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Lenzi on October 07, 2007, 09:50 AM
There are two types of people in the world--those who think there are two types of people in this world, and those who don't.

 ;D

It's interesting to read this thread--it shows how much we humans love to make categories and fit everything into them. But at the same time, we enjoy finding or being one that doesn't fit into a category. Hmmmm.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Jen on October 07, 2007, 01:29 PM
Despite Hazelnut's (perfectly valid!) observations, I have to say that the presence of TV or the amount you watch has absolutely, positively NOTHING AT ALL to do with how much you read.


Agreed.  I read at least 150 or 200 novels a year, and I'm a TV fanatic.  I'm very "fiction-prone" in general, and that comes out in my TV and movie preferences.
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: andracill on October 07, 2007, 05:09 PM
I have to third this.  I've been an avid reader all my life -- and I still love TV!  In fact, one of my favorite activities is reading while the TV is on :)
Title: Re: Why Women Read More Than Men
Post by: Barbara Eveleth on October 20, 2007, 06:29 AM
How true, Lenzi.  :)