I went to book club, as I do occasionally. We were talking about a book I particularly enjoyed, "Okay For Now." As part of the discussion, I thought of something I read on Shannon Hale's blog some time ago about how there aren't as many male readers as female readers. According to Ms. Hale, (Ooo, just hearing that name in my head made me think of the movie "North and South" with Richard Armitage. *sigh* It's so romantic.) much of the reason boys don't read as much is because it's taboo for them to be seen reading a "girl" book. On the other hand, it's perfectly fine for a girl to be seen reading a "boy" book.
I brought that up at this book club. I was happy to hear the librarian of the group say that she wasn't sure she agreed. There is a series of fairy books. All have pink or purple covers with glitter on them. Each story is about a different fairy, like the Horse Fairy, or the Sports Fairy, or the Rainbow Fairy, or the Astronaut Fairy (I'm actually not sure on the last Fairy, but I wouldn't put it past them). Our Club Librarian said that she would get mostly boys asking for these books. Of course, girls read them, but the boys were the ones who came back and back and back.
Speaking as a mother of a nine year old son, I have to throw my hands in the air in indecision. My son certainly wouldn't read a book if someone told him it was girly. But he has read "The Secret Garden" just because he wanted to. He mostly likes adventure (he's reading the Deltora books right now) or non-fiction war/weapons books. But he is a reader. He's the kind that will stay in bed all morning reading, if I let him. We have read together as a family. Lots of books. Books like "Heidi". He has never once complained about a book being too girly. (I just asked him if he's ever read a girly book and he said, "No. Or yes." I asked which one. And he replied, "I don't remember.")
I have noticed that men will rarely admit to having read a romance. Or there's rarely a man who does. But go ahead and ask how many have read Tom Clancy or Louis L'Amour. Also, if a man classifies himself as a reader, it's a solo activity. I can't think of any man I've ever met that has been part of a book club. Can you?
I'd be happy to be wrong about any of this. I'm just spouting. So, call me out on it, if you feel I need it.
For those of us who might find it useful, here's a website: Guys Read.