Of the 100 winners, two were men.
Put another way (showing off my maths skillz here), 98% of the winners were women (unless there are a whole bunch of dudes out there called Amy.) Now, I realize that the fact that the galley contest was run on a website devoted to reading groups may have skewed the numbers a little, since guys apparently don’t go in for that sort of thing much (although I would like to know why not.) But 98%? Really?
All of which leads to the obvious question: where the hell are all the boys?
Now, the idea that women read more than men isn’t exactly news. When I mentioned this to a friend yesterday, she sent me this very interesting NPR article (a couple of years old now) which discussed some of the possible reasons why women read more than men, and suggests that men constitute as little as 20% of the fiction market.
The fact that there is a website dedicated to posting pictures of men reading books tells you what a rare breed male readers have apparently become. It’s all a bit depressing.
There’s plenty of evidence of the phenomenon closer to home, too. Of all the people good enough to write a pre-publication review of A GOOD AMERICAN on the goodreads site, only one has been a man. And yes, almost all of the people who have put the book on their “to be read” list are women. I also realized, thinking about all this, that in the past several months, precisely two men have posted comments on this blog. (Thank you, Terry and Christopher.) Does this mean that no men read this blog? Well, I don’t think so. I think they just choose not to comment. Which is fine, although I’m curious as to why that is. Now, I realize that asking readers to post a comment on a blog explaining why they don’t post comments on blogs would appear to be an exercise in futility, so instead I shall make this simple plea: if you’re a bloke, and you’re reading this, please wave at the rest of us from the comment box. Are you there? Or just shy?
And if anyone else has any theories about why men appear to be so reluctant to read novels, please do share. (I’m skeptical about the “mirror neurons” theory in the NPR piece.) Have you experienced or witnessed a similar gender divide?