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Why Women Read More Than Men

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It's cuz we're smarter!
#2 - September 28, 2007, 05:44 PM
A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY, Sept. 2012
Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning
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That was an interesting article, Lenzi.  Thanks for sharing!
#3 - September 28, 2007, 06:01 PM

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.
#4 - September 29, 2007, 09:11 AM

Bish

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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.
#5 - September 30, 2007, 02:16 PM

He must be in the coveted fraction of men who read!
#6 - September 30, 2007, 07:11 PM

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Thanks for sharing this very interesting article!  I hope there's another article soon that shows an increase in reading for EVERYBODY!  :) 
#7 - September 30, 2007, 07:45 PM
Blessings!

DebS
(Granny Deb)

justpat

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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.
#8 - October 01, 2007, 05:11 AM

fallpeople

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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.
#9 - October 01, 2007, 09:07 AM

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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!
#10 - October 01, 2007, 09:11 AM
A WHOLE LOT OF LUCKY, Sept. 2012
Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning
The Summer of Moonlight Secrets
Me & Jack

http://www.danettehaworth.com

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
#11 - October 01, 2007, 10:21 AM

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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?
#12 - October 01, 2007, 02:51 PM
Film school grad. Time traveller. Billy Bragg fan. Canadian/Irish novelist of character-driven fiction from sci-fi to slice of life.

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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!
#13 - October 01, 2007, 03:17 PM

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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.
#14 - October 02, 2007, 09:11 AM

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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
#15 - October 02, 2007, 09:33 AM
The Farwalker Trilogy
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Reality Leak

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What is this "reading" you speak of?  ???
Imma watch me some TeeVee.

 :dr
#16 - October 02, 2007, 09:42 AM

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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
#17 - October 02, 2007, 10:51 AM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
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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.”
#18 - October 02, 2007, 01:53 PM
ROLLER BOY (Fitzroy Books, 2018)
AMY'S CHOICE (Luminis Books, 2014)
CALL ME AMY (Luminis Books, 2013)
www.marciastrykowski.com
Twitter: @MarciaStry

Cool! That's great that you encouraged their particular reading interests.
#19 - October 02, 2007, 02:12 PM

Reader, reader, reader...
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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?
#20 - October 02, 2007, 02:58 PM
Robin
Unspun: A Collection of Tattered Fairy Tales: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07BSR6CPJ/
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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...
#21 - October 02, 2007, 04:13 PM

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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.
#22 - October 02, 2007, 04:21 PM

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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)?
#23 - October 02, 2007, 04:26 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.
#24 - October 02, 2007, 04:43 PM
Bazooka Joe says, I have the ability to become outstanding in literature.
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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
#25 - October 02, 2007, 05:30 PM

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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  :)
#26 - October 02, 2007, 10:56 PM
AN EYEBALL IN MY GARDEN, Marshall Cavendish Children's Books
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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.
#27 - October 02, 2007, 11:08 PM

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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.  :)
#28 - October 02, 2007, 11:35 PM

Wow--I look forward to hearing more about your work. It's a fascinating subject.
#29 - October 03, 2007, 01:09 AM
« Last Edit: October 03, 2007, 10:10 AM by Lenzi »

Paulahy

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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
#30 - October 03, 2007, 10:04 AM

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