"When’s the last time you heard a man say, 'I’ve been reading this great book, you’d really like it’? My girlfriend always tells me about these books she’s reading, and I don’t even see her reading the book! Where does this book live?"
A quote from Bryan Goldberg, the founder of the website Bustle, quoted in this New Yorker article titled "FROM MARS/A young man’s adventures in women’s publishing." I enjoyed the whole article — Goldberg raised $6.5 million to start up a website for women, though he knew he knew nothing about what women want to read. He just knew there was money to be made from advertising if he could deliver big numbers of young female readers, and he hired a whole lot of young women to work for $50 or $100 a day writing blog posts about whatever interests them (because what interests them will kinda sorta already be what interests young women). His goal is 50 million readers a month, and as of the publication of that article (last September), he'd gotten the traffic up to 14,000 a day — i.e., about half the traffic I get here, with just my own self writing, albeit not to the demographic most loved by advertisers, even though I am sure that some of you do get excited by the newest innovation in eyeliner.
But what got me thinking about that quote about reading was running acrosss this new article in Slate: "Dan Kois’ Favorite Books of 2013." Dan, a man, apparently read enough books to have 15 favorites in one year. How many books do you need to read in a year to have 15 favorites? I'd say at least 1 a week. But he's the book editor there, so he'd better do some reading. The truth is, if you put me in a room with all the books sent to the book editor in a year, I could produce a 15 favorites list in a single 8-hour workday. You just need a methodology, right? Spend less than 10 seconds on most books until you've got about 30 that seem as though you're going to like them. Maybe 30 more that you'll give a chance. Go through the first pile of 30, 5 minutes per book, and see if you get 15 you like. If not, proceed to the second pile. Put another 10 minutes into each of the chosen 15 to check that you haven't been fooled. If you find any clunkers, swap in one of the also rans from the top 60, maybe something with a colorful title or strange author name. I see Dan has on his list "There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself: Love Stories," by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya.
Ha ha. Does my method sound like a male way to construct a top 15 list? It would amuse me.