A fiction gender gap? Yes there is one! Surveys taken in Canada, the United States and England suggest that men account for only about 20% of the fiction market! Why is this so?
Warren Adler writes: “There is ample statistical evidence showing that adult women read more novels than men, attend more book clubs than men, use libraries more than men, buy more books than men, take more creative writing courses than men, and probably write more works of fiction than men.”
Emma Cueto writes: “When it comes to fiction, though, most readers have something in common: Most of them are women. About 55 percent of women have read a work of fiction in the past 12 months, compared with only 33 percent of men. Fewer women read nonfiction, but female nonfiction readers still outnumber male nonfiction readers. In fact, women make up a greater share of readers in just about any category, be it novel, nonfiction, short stories, poetry, or plays.”
Ariane Bucaille writes: Studies show that people who read books not only live longer than people who don’t read books, but also have a longevity advantage compared to those who read newspapers or magazines—even after adjusting for covariates such as age, education level, wealth, and health. Multiple studies also show that reading fiction books increases empathy and understanding of others more than reading nonfiction.
Women are more empathetic than men – making it easier for them to immerse themselves in fictional settings and plots. Women want to figure out the world and what other people are thinking and feeling. Fiction gives them the opportunity to enter different lives and situations thus giving them a broader view. Women readers use much-loved novels to support them through difficult times and emotional turbulence, and for support and inspiration.
Readers of fiction tend to want their emotions stirred. It is curious that men over 50 read more fiction than younger men. Is it that by that age they are more comfortable with themselves and more in touch with their feminine side? My stepfather didn’t begin to read fiction until he was in his early ’70s. Now he wonders why he didn’t before. I belong to a bookclub with roughly 25 members. Two of those are men (both over 50).
There is a stigma (at least in the minds of men) that reading fiction is a pastime not worthy of men’s valuable time. Ask the average man and he’ll admit to reading non-fiction, newspapers and magazines, but rarely will he admit to reading fiction. When he does admit to reading fiction it is usually ‘manfiction‘. That is macho adventure thrillers by such authors as Clive Cussler, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, Jon Land and the like.
Hey guys…. you don’t know what you are missing!
There is also a gulf in the more specific genres that men and women choose, with men tending to read history, biographies and memoir and science fiction, while women are more likely to choose mystery, thriller and crime, romance and other fiction.
Fiction can be just as educational as non-fiction and most times a lot more enjoyable. Novelists (good ones at least) put countless hours into researching their novels. It is proven that lessons hidden in stories stay with us longer than those relayed in lectures. What if reading fiction made you smarter, more empathetic, and more savvy in social situations, as well as in relationships? Is fiction the key to success?