December 8, 2013

"Men, to the best of my knowledge, don’t even read."

"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.

83 comments:

ALP said...

BS - some of the most cherished gifts I have given to The Boyfriend are books. In fact, I introduced him to his current idol, Christopher Hitchens, through his book "God is not Great".

LYNNDH said...

Being an Old Guy, I still read real books, the paper kind. I like murder mysteries, mostly English, and a good many set in the Middle Ages. I may purchase 20 plus real books a year. And I re-read them. I have 3 big bookcases crammed with books. Of course, I was a history major in College, that might go some way in explaining my love of books. Real Books.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Sadly, I'm not interested in innovations in eyeliner unless they involve some cool sort of nanotech.

Or cure an eye disease.

Or reformulate an ancient, lost formula.

I suspect even your female readers fall on the manly side of the spectrum most of the time...

Which makes sense... way back when, I found you via Instapundit. And he's not especially girly either......

St. George said...

I'm reading Bill Bryson's "1927." Huge fun. Herbert Hoover was an orphan who, in private, called himself superman and with good reason. Until Lindbergh came along he might have been the most acclaimed person in the world, having overseen several vast recovery efforts that saved tens of thousands of lives, not that the disgustingly self-promoting Hoover ever cared to visit the starving refugees he was helping. (Coolidge hated him for unknown reasons.) Lindbergh came out of nowhere to cross the ocean, besting hugely funded teams of well-known pilots. He, too, had a strange childhood. When he was a boy, he shook his mother's hand goodnight. Babe Ruth was a wonderful guy whose father dumped him in an orphanage when he was seven. When he left, having been picked by a minor league team, he'd never seen a farm, never ridden on a train, never ordered from a menu, never ridden an elevator. The government lawyer who nabbed Al Capone on tax charges was a dame. At the time, most of the legal community thought it would be illegal for the government to seize the ill-gotten gains of criminals. I would write more, but I have to get back to reading, reading, reading….

Michelle Dulak Thomson said...

Ann,

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 [...]

Spoken like the woman who said she had Elmore Leonard's writing secret totally figured out fifteen pages or so into one novel, so why read more?

Seriously, writing isn't as simple or so easy as that.

LYNNDH, I wish I could get by with "three big bookcases." I can't get my own collection of English mysteries onto one big bookcase, even double-stacked.

YoungHegelian said...

"When’s the last time you heard a man say, 'I’ve been reading this great book, you’d really like it’?

And those woman to woman conversations are almost always about fiction books. Non-fiction, of all stripes, is a solidly male domain.

Ann Althouse said...

"I'm reading Bill Bryson's "1927.""

Me too!

It's my newest sleepable audiobook, so I will read it for years, approximately a thousand times. I find Bryson's reading voice both interesting (so I don't get bored and think my own thoughts) and peaceful (so I'll be tricked into falling asleep).

Ann Althouse said...

Lots of stuff about Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey too.

Ann Althouse said...

"And those woman to woman conversations are almost always about fiction books. Non-fiction, of all stripes, is a solidly male domain."

That's the general bell curve of it, I think, but I much prefer nonfiction. If I read fiction, it's not these long storybooks that women seem to like. It would be something literary with great sentences.

I think men do read some of these thriller best-sellers though, don't they? And science fiction?

wildswan said...

Any reader knows right away if they'll like a book. Trouble only starts if you have to ask whether this book is new and is by a great, famous or notorious author and so must be read all the way through for some career reason. When you are retired those reasons don't exist. You can take long jaunts about lost hinterlands - Yemen in 1900, Egypt in 1895, the Trans-Caspian Railroad before 1900. In many cases very little has changed. The Egyptians were modernizing, the Yemenis were not and the Russians were pressuring everyone on their borders. But it was all a lot more fun.

Joe said...

From the article: "Traditionally, women’s publishing—print—has been dominated by glossy magazines..."

Huh? That's utter bullshit. Women's publishing-print-has been dominated by romance novels.

I know more men who read than women. My oldest daughter reads a lot and men and women are constantly surprised by this, which seems to run contrary to the tone of the article.

That publishing is dominated by women is no secret; there was a very good article on this recently, though I don't have a link.

David-2 said...

I was barely interested in the article but I'm glad I clicked through - because the first "favorite" took me to this site which is really unique though NSFW (if you're really paying attention). I never got back to the rest of the "favorites".

Meanwhile, back to this post: Maybe men read books but just don't recommend them to their male friends, for one reason or another?

As far as I'm concerned, I like my friends, but I don't particularly care to hear what they're reading. It makes me feel under some sort of (mild) obligation to read the thing and report back. Thanks, but I'd rather read things I found myself that I will probably enjoy more. If they feel the same way that explains why nobody but my wife is recommending books to me.

David-2 said...

P.S. YoungHegelian@4:48PM is probably right.

Bob Ellison said...

tl;dr

David-2 said...

Althouse: Men read sci-fi, yes, ... but I doubt if they recommend any sci-fi book to any friend unless they already know that friend also reads sci-fi.

There's reasons for that that sufficiently annoying that I'm not going to bother to go into them.

fivewheels said...

I think men read plenty of books. But the gender imbalance in sales may come in part from the fact that it takes a little more time and attention to read "The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe: The U.S. Army Air Forces Against Germany in World War II" (on my kindle now) than "50 Shades of Grey."

Carol said...

I like fiction and nonfiction in equal measure. Right now I'm reading Amity Schlaes' bio of Coolidge, and Gary Giddens' bio of Bing Crosby.

BTW is it considered uncool for biographers to mention dates now? I am constantly searching for what year we're in so I can coincide it with other things going on at the time. But I have to page back all the time just find out if we're in 1930 yet or still in 1929.

David said...

Titus gets Front Paged again:

"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."

Michael said...

I buy at least a book a week through the very linked portal on this very blog! Sometimes two. I probably have six or more books going at any one time together with reliable semi-permanent ones by a few of my favorite Roman writers. I actually dont know many women who read, or read deeply.

I once was a devoted reader of fiction, literary fiction. Migrated almost totslly to non fiction though I have begun again the magnificent "A Dance to the Music of Time" by Anthony Powell. Highly recommended.

rehajm said...

Goldberg raised $6.5 million to start up a website for women

Goldberg- a man- had the wherewithal to imagine a website for women and raise $6.5 million in startup capital.

"When’s the last time you heard a man say, 'I’ve been reading this great book, you’d really like it’

When's the last time you heard a woman say, "I have this great idea for a startup and I'm going to get the funding to make it a reality", then goes and raises $6.5 million? Marissa Mayer didn't, Sheryl Sandberg didn't...maybe the SPanx lady?

David said...

Books presently being read:

Sir Harold Nicholson, The Congress of Vienna

Malcolm Bell, Major Butler's Legacy: Five Generations of a Slaveholding Family

Willie Lee Rose, Rehearsal for Reconstruction: The Port Royal Experiment

And yet, I still feel manly.

Blue@9 said...

Maybe men just aren't as inclined to talk about the books they're reading. Reading is a solitary experience for me, and I read to enrich my internal life. I'll answer if people ask what I'm reading, but I'll rarely volunteer it.

YoungHegelian said...

@Prof. Althouse,

I said what I said on male/female readership habits based on this site.

I think men do read some of these thriller best-sellers though, don't they? And science fiction?

I would think so, too, but I don't have any statistics one way or the other. One weird sci-fi genre that is solidly female, however, is the Star Trek, et al 'Slash' world.

Dale Light said...

I live in a community that brings me into contact from time to time with a number of other retired educators. It used to be when we encountered one another we would immediately ask, "What are you working on?" After several years the question has become "What are you reading?"

Ann Althouse said...

"One weird sci-fi genre that is solidly female, however, is the Star Trek, et al 'Slash' world."

Thanks for that link. Strange that people write and read such things (and that academics write about it (or used to write about it)). Imagine sending your kid to college and finding him or her majoring in some area of the humanities where the professors study fan fiction and the fans who write and read it!

Fred Drinkwater said...

20 some odd years ago I found out a new neighbor (a woman about my own age) had a book group. At the time I had just finished "Rivethead", by Ben Hamper, about working on GM's truck line. I enthusiastically recommended it to her. Oddly, though we remained friends, she never mentioned her book group to me again.

Fred Drinkwater said...

rehajm:
Actually, a huge percentage, perhaps even half, of the startup entrepreneurs I feel have enough on the ball that I'm willing to do diligence on them and their companies, are women.

Greg Hlatky said...

Now reading "The Strange Death of Liberal England" by George Dangerfield and "The War That Ended Peace" by Margaret MacMillan.

St. George said...

A great new sci-fi trilogy is "The Last Policeman."

It's about a detective in a small New England town.

The twist? The above book takes place six months before a six-kilometer-wide asteroid hits the Earth. The second book of the series "Countdown City" picks up the story with three months left.

It would make a great TV series.

rehajm said...

rehajm:
Actually, a huge percentage, perhaps even half, of the startup entrepreneurs I feel have enough on the ball that I'm willing to do diligence on them and their companies, are women.

Yes- when you mention the lack of successfull women entrepreneurs, especially in tech, there's always a defensive response like this- 'we do due dilligence', 'we see', 'we talk to'. Not 'we just gave them a big B round....'

Broomhandle said...

I've read voraciously since I was 7 years old, my wife reads Facebook posts. It may be true that women read more, especially among the young, but it is undoubtedly true that women read more trash.

Jim S. said...

I'm currently reading Brainstorms by Daniel Dennett and The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. And the Bible, which is a never-ending project: when I finish I start all over again. I recently finished reading Physicalism, or Something Near Enough by Jaegwon Kim, The Concept of Canonical Intertextuality and the Book of Daniel by Jordan Scheetz, Reason's Debt to Freedom by Ishtiyaque Haji, Reason, Metaphysics, and Mind (edited) by Kelly James Clark and Michael Rea, and Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright.

I contest Goldberg's claim that men don't read.

n.n said...

Perhaps we can substitute provocateur for journalist. That would surely be truth in advertising.

All right, I'll try on the suit, and see if it fits.

Perhaps women keep notches on their book list, while men keep notches on their bed post. What man would concern himself with citations or bibliographies. That's an academic concept, which has little pragmatic value, other than to boost self-esteem through association. The bed post, too.

Ah, the good old days. When boys and girls would pull each other's hair and chase each other around the playground. Where egos were dashed and made whole with minimal intervening time. The adult world is so complicated.

Michael K said...

I loved the "Rivethead" comment.

"And those woman to woman conversations are almost always about fiction books. Non-fiction, of all stripes, is a solidly male domain."

I like certain fiction but I tend to read all one author's work, then start on another. My reading is divided about 50/50 in nonfiction and fiction.

My father's favorite comment to me was "Get your nose out of that book !? That reminds me of Bill Cosby's story that he thought his name was "Jesus Christ !" until he was ten because that's what his father said every time he saw him.

It didn't work. I usually have three books going at the same time. I have them in different rooms.

My Amazon reviewsare about 50/50.

William said...

I'm reading one of the Robert Caro books about Lyndon Johnson--Master of the Senate. It's over a thousand pages long. I can't imagine recommending it to anyone. Caro convincingly demonstrates that Johnson was a total wad. If you read the excerpts in the New Yorker, you didn't miss anything by not reading the book. Caro seems to have spent the major portion of his adult life analyzing the many layers of sleaze in Johnson's personal and public life. If you find a character so repugnant how does it come to pass that you write so many thousands of pages about him. There's something patholical about being that transfixed by Johnson's flaws.

EDH said...

Althouse said...
Does my method sound like a male way to construct a top 15 list?

It sounds like "speed dating".

John said...

St George:

Hoover did pretty well for himself. High school drop out, orphan and then first student to enroll in Stanford's first class.

Highly successful mining engineer in some very inhospitable places. Organized the Americans during seige of Peking. In 1914, one of the richest men in America.

When war broke out he was rich enough to quit working. He used his own funds to get Americans stranded overseas in August 1914, back home. His own funds and considerable physical risk to feed the Belgians.

And more.

He didn't save tens of thousands of lives from starvation during and after WWI. He saved tens of millions.

Vernon Kellog was one of his assistants in the relief efforts, wrote a great bio in 1920. Download free for Kindle.

To bring this back to books, Hoover was also a Hell of a writer. I found a free version of his 1912 book on mine evaluation. I know nothing about mining but do know something about business evaluation. I would put this book on my class reading lists.

His 3 volumes of autobiography can be downloaded as PDFs from his presidential library. I reformatted them for Kindle and they are a first rate read.

John Henry

John said...

I've been averaging about 2 books a week since I was a teenager (about 50 years)

There are a number of favorite books that I reread over and over and over. Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion I have probably read 25 times and just purchased the Kindle version the other day. It is as fresh as ever.

Some other books I've read 10-20 or more times:

Atlas Shrugged (Rand)

Cryptonomicon (Stephenson)

A Town Like Alice (Shute)

any of Donald Westlake's caper novels, especially Dortmunder.

Some of Elmore Leonard's books

I'll read lots of books 4-5 times. I am now working my way through WEB Griffin's "The Corps" series for the 5 (or more) time.

John Henry

Carl Pham said...

I think men like their stories direct from the source, so they talk to acquaintances and strangers more often, and more honestly.

Women are cagier and less honest in conversations, especially with strangers, so they need to get their stories packaged up and safely pasteurized on the printed page. There's no chance the guy in the book is going to hit on you or stalk you, nor that the woman is going to notice your bra strap is showing and make an arch comment that just devastates you.

I mean, ask some random man how he knows such-and-such, and it will be more often "a guy I know/once met told me" than "I read it in a book." With women, it's the other way around.

John said...

Fivewheels mentioned "The Men who killed the Luftwaffe"

Let me praise my Kindle here. This sounds like the kind of book I am interested in. 4 years ago, I would have had to remember the name, then gone to Amazon, read the reviews to see if it seemed worth spending the money. If it was, I would have then put it on my wishlist and when I had collected 5-6 books placed an order.

In other words, it might have been 2 months and $20 to get a copy of a book which I might or might not have liked.

Now I can see Fivewheel's comment, really just the name of the book, and pop on over to Amazon via Ann's portal.

I tell them to send me a sample and I can be reading the first chapter literally a minute later. If I like it, when I get to the end of the sample, I can hit buy this book and have the entire book in another minute.

Is this some magical shit or what!

I love my Kindle.

John Henry

hombre said...

I read 3-4 books a week as does my wife.

Last time we moved we had over 100 small cartons of books and we have 400+ on Kindle, none of which are romance novels, which, I understand, account for a billion, or so, of books sold to women. LOL.

JackOfVA said...

Hoover and his wife also translated Agricole's 1556 book De Re Metallica the first scientific book on mining. I have a copy in one of my bookcases but it's been a couple decades since I last read it.

Compare and contrast Hoover's accomplishments with those of the present resident in the White House, said by the mainstream media to be the smartest president in American history.

Tarrou said...

Well, this is just my significant other an I, so extrapolate at your own risk. We both love to read, but we read very differently. I probably read twice as many pages as she does, but she reads five times as many books. And what we read differs widely. I read nonfiction mostly, with a few mysteries and sci-fi/fantasy thrown in. Her books run to historical-setting romances and hilariously bad teen sci-fi. Luckily we both agree on Butcher.

John said...

Michael K mentioned usually having 3 books going at the same time.

When I was reading paper books, I probably never had less than 2 books going, often 3-5.

Now with Kindle, I tend to have one book on my Kindle and one on my phone since I seldom carry my Kindle with me outside the house.

I tried reading one book on both devices and syncing makes that relatively simple. OTOH, it did involve an extra step or two and I am already used to reading multiple books so I generally don't bother.

Currently reading Sometimes a Great Notion on my Kindle, "Free Air" by Sinclair Lewis on the phone.

Also working my way through TS Lawrence's (of Arabia) Seven Pillars of Wisdom on both devices. not a bad book but I find it hard to stay interested.

So what about the rest of you? How many books do you read simultaneously?

John Henry

John said...

Jack, I found a copy of Di Res Metallica for Kindle and downloaded it. Formatting was pretty funky so I didn't get very far.

Hoover was a prolific author. I think he wrote 15-20 books total on a pretty wide range of subjects from politics to history to fly fishing.

What I have seen is that he is one of these writers that makes even boring stuff interesting.

Unlike most pols, Hoover wrote every word of his books. No Ghosts for him.

John Henry

John said...

Someone mentioned Caro and the LBJ books. I've read all 5 volumes, each more than once and find them superb.

Not just for the info on LBJ but for the background. Volume 4, Master of the Senate starts with an extensive discussion of how the Senate works. As Caro talks about LBJ in the Senate, we learn a lot of the intricate arcana of the Senate.

Or the way LBJ took a job that had long been considered a booby prize for someone not smart enough to avoid it. Inch by inch he made the Senate Majority Leader a position to rival the president in power.

Caro is too polite to mention it but this is pretty much what Stalin did by taking over as party secretary when nobody else wanted the "nothing" job.

Caro's bio of Robert Moses, another scumbag of major proportions, is pretty good too.

John Henry

Dale Light said...

Hoover, before his presidency, was one of the truly great men of the Twentieth Century. It is a shame that he is not widely recognized as such. The problem between him and Coolidge was a clash of political philosophies. Coolidge was a classic liberal who embraced government passivity and encouraged market solutions. Hoover was a Progressive activist who saw government action as the proper response to everything. I prefer Coolidge, but recognize Hoover's greatness.

Malta1565 said...

I don't talk about books because most of my books have limited water cooler appeal and my mediocre mind and discussion skills can't do those books justice.

I do discuss purchases with my brother and father as we have some overlapping tastes. I'll let them know if I've picked up a certain book so they won't buy it too.

Terry said...

I am reading Nabakov these days. Lots of fireworks in Nabakov. Humbert Humbert, as Nabakov created him, is a psychopath and a committed child molester. The only thing holding Humbert back is his terror of being caught.

Joseph Blieu said...

Don't know your negative sources on Hoover but he saved more innocent lives through diligent effort than anyone else I have heard of,saved children by the literal millions with his skillful relief programs. he was a self made millionaire through his own hard work, grew up poor. His reputation was slaughtered by the vindictive Roosevelt in order to give him time for creating his new deal which drug out the recovery til WWII, perhaps the same policies will be shown to have drug out the current recovery. Hoover deserves to be a saint except his destruction was politically useful to the Democrats.

Joseph Blieu said...

Don't know your negative sources on Hoover but he saved more innocent lives through diligent effort than anyone else I have heard of,saved children by the literal millions with his skillful relief programs. he was a self made millionaire through his own hard work, grew up poor. His reputation was slaughtered by the vindictive Roosevelt in order to give him time for creating his new deal which drug out the recovery til WWII, perhaps the same policies will be shown to have drug out the current recovery. Hoover deserves to be a saint except his destruction was politically useful to the Democrats.

Joseph Blieu said...

Don't know your negative sources on Hoover but he saved more innocent lives through diligent effort than anyone else I have heard of,saved children by the literal millions with his skillful relief programs. he was a self made millionaire through his own hard work, grew up poor. His reputation was slaughtered by the vindictive Roosevelt in order to give him time for creating his new deal which drug out the recovery til WWII, perhaps the same policies will be shown to have drug out the current recovery. Hoover deserves to be a saint except his destruction was politically useful to the Democrats.

Michael K said...

"There are a number of favorite books that I reread over and over and over. Kesey's Sometimes a Great Notion I have probably read 25 times and just purchased the Kindle version the other day. It is as fresh as ever."

I do the same thing. Once football season is over, the TV will be off for months at a time.

What I consider success in raising children is whether they read for pleasure. My youngest is still questionable but I have hopes for her.

When I was writing my first book, I did a lot of reading of old books as sources. I still have the collection.

Much of my non-fiction is World War II material. I read all the volumes of Forrest Pogues' biography of Marshall.

Favorite fiction writer is Neville Shute. I read his novels over and over.

LYNNDH said...

Michelle Dulak Thomson, should also have added "double stacked".
I read "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" while a senior in HS.
Should have started out in History in college, rather than Double E.
The English mystery writers are sooooo much better than US. And the historical settings very interesting.

RecChief said...

maybe men recognize that Sturgeon's Law applies, and books are part of the 90%. Or maybe men read, but don't gush to their friends about it.

I am struck by one thing though, if you change the gender in your headline, there would be such wailing and gnashing of teeth!!!

Indigo Red said...

I'm currently reading Allan W. Eckert's "A Sorrow in Our Heart - The Life of Tecumseh" and "Memoirs" by William Tecumseh Sherman.

John Lynch said...

Audio books are where it's at. I don't have time to read, but I spend 30+ hours a week driving. That's at least two books.

Now I'm back to my old reading pace, despite a full time job, kid, family, etc.

Michael K said...

""Memoirs" by William Tecumseh Sherman."

When you finish that, read Liddell Hart's biography of Sherman. He was our greatest general by far and won the Civil War. Hart uses Sherman's telegraph messages to reconstruct his strategy. His soldiers loved him because he avoided casualties. They called him "Uncle Billy" and he teased them sometimes.

Freeman Hunt said...

There is a popular style of online, generally female writing that is verbose in the extreme. I don't understand the appeal.

William said...

I agree with John that Caro is an excellent writer. I'm almost finished with Master of the Senate. Caro can bring vitality and interest to a long forgotten subcommittee hearing. That's the plus side. On the minus side, I don't think that LBJ is such a compelling figure that I want to read another four volumes about his days and works. I find it curious that Caro has expended so much of his talent and life chronicling the doings of such a shabby character.....I've read the McCullough bio of Truman and the Norris biography of Teddy Roosevelt. Both books read quickly. The affection and respect that the biographers felt for their subjects made their books quick, pleasant reads. Caro has such repugnance and disdain for Johnson that it makes for tough sledding. LBJ has found the biographer he deserves, but he's not a character one wants to spend endless time with.

Terry said...

When I wrote that comment about Nabakov and Humbert Humbert I couldn't remember what it was that that you call a guy who is bent like Humbert, so I thought I should look it up.
You shouldn't google "men who love young girls". Never, ever do that.

Kirk Parker said...

Goldberg: "When’s the last time you heard a man say, 'I’ve been reading this great book, you’d really like it’?"

YoungHegelian: "And those woman to woman conversations are almost always about fiction books. Non-fiction, of all stripes, is a solidly male domain. "

Me: Beside reading the entire internet every day (or so my family claims!), I've quote quite a stack of dead-trees volumes on my to-read list, and quite a few queued up on my Kindle. Virtually all of it is nonfiction (though the Kindle does hold a number of great classics from Kipling, Conrad, and others.)

The problem, though, is that the size of both the paper and the virtual stack keeps growing, not shrinking. My poor children are not only going to have to deal with an immense library at my demise, said demise will probably be caused by an avalance of unread books! Gack!!!

Kirk Parker said...

Listening to audio books is not reading!

Still a worthwhile thing to do, of course, if you have long periods of commuting or other activities that keep you from reading but where listening is possible... but the information rate is somewhere between 1/3 and 1/10 of reading, so why would you do that if you didn't have to, or were filling otherwise unused time?

Kirk Parker said...

Michael,

How would you compare Sherman's memoir to Grant's?

St. George said...

Hi, John Henry--

Yes, I completely agree Hoover was an amazing individual, and he certainly did feed millions of people, saving many lives.

He was actually orphaned and raised by relatives and started his mining career as a manual laborer. (Coolidge's mother died when he was young as did his only sibling. There was a lot of that going around in those days.)

It's easier to criticize than to praise, though the man did have his flaws.

John said...

Michael K:

Always good to hear from a fellow Norwegian, as we fans of Nevil Shute Norway often call each other.

I too am a fan and founded the Nevil Shute Society (now the Nevil Shute Foundation) back in 97

http://www.nevilshute.org/

I suspect that most here are aware that Shute wrote On the Beach. It is still read in many high schools.

Most people do not know that he wrote 23 other books, most of them even better.

He was also a distinguished aeronautical engineer and founded a successful aircraft manufacturing company Airspeed Limited.

Michael and any other Norwegians, I'd love to hear from you

johnfajardohenry at Gmail dot com

John Henry

John said...

I too love audio books and for 10-15 years used to listen to a book every 2 weeks from the old Books on Tape. I have never cared much for the way Audible.com does them.

Librivox.org is a good free source for books that are in the public domain and read by volunteers. Quality of the reading varies but is generally OK.

I've been listening to them for about 5 years now. I have worked my way through much of Anthony Trollope's work, for example. Currently "reading" Conrad's Lord Jim.

John Henry

Rusty said...

I'm a compulsive reader. Which means if the only publication in the dr's office is a book on microbiology I'll read it.
I often read two or three books at a time.

Rusty said...

I'm a compulsive reader. Which means if the only publication in the dr's office is a book on microbiology I'll read it.
I often read two or three books at a time.

Firehand said...

Son's first time in Iraq, after a few months asked for books. Over a few months I sent a couple of boxes, other relatives sent more. And as soon as word got out he had books, a line formed.

They passed those books down the line and read them to death. And others were asking for books and magazines, too.

But men don't even read. Bullshit.

John said...

Firehand,

During WWII, supposedly, there was a shortage of rifle magazines in some theatre. The troops sent letters to the general asking for magazines. Due to miscommunication they were sent paper magazines. According to C. Northcote Parkinson.

Re books to Iraq, back in the day there were a could of organizations that collected books for the troops. Monthly I would cram as many books as I could into a Priority Mail box and send them off.

The troops liked them and my wife liked the idea of reducing clutter.

When I was in the Navy, at sea, there was pretty much NOTHING else to do but read. I would go through a book a day almost. Mostly science fiction.

Books for the troops or the fleet are always very welcome.

John Henry

Bruce Hayden said...

I don't think It is that men don't read, because many of us do, almost compulsively, but rather, our interests are different. One big difference, I will suggest, is that men mostly don't read for the emotional content, or to bond with other men, but rather more for the information. Some of it is action, of course, where sex is either greatly underplayed, or in rare situations glorified with a superman protagonist in both in and out of bed. So, no romance novels, or fixation on celebrities.

I compulsively read, and have for most of my life. Fond memories of the summer between 1st and 2nd grade, where my mother sat and read with me everyday to catch up. Went from below the middle of the class to one of the best as a result. Remember taking a speed reading test and finding that I was already reading at the speed that the guaranteed their graduates could read at. Worked well for a (2nd) career in law.

Anglelyne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anglelyne said...

Broomhandle: I've read voraciously since I was 7 years old, my wife reads Facebook posts. It may be true that women read more, especially among the young, but it is undoubtedly true that women read more trash.

I don't know what percentage of men in general are serious readers, but I'd confidently bet that the vast majority of readers of "serious" stuff, written for thinking adults (not the reality-TV demographic), are men.

That "men don't read" is bs. Seriously, why does consuming "chick-lit" even count as reading? Simone de Beauvoir blamed women for the degradation of the "bestseller" lists of her day; most of what these "readers" are reading is really at the "young adult" level of emotional and intellectual complexity. All that history, science, and yes, classic literature vended by Amazon must be being sold to space aliens, because there sure as hell aren't a lot of women buying and reading it.

As for Goldberg's enterprise - sheesh, just what the world needs. More websites/media outlets devoted to the airhead demographic.

TCR James said...

I read probably 40 books per year, more when I have heavy work travel, less when I don't. It's a mix of arty fiction, hard sci fi, non-fiction (generally European history) and political philosophy. I switched over to mainly-kindle after my 6th bookshelf at home and second at work filled up.

My male friends tend to read either a handful of sports & professionally-related books each year, or they read constantly. Since we're assured men don't read, I'll have to ask them if their Amazon profiles list them as women.

tmitsss said...

A Flame of Pure Fire by Roger Kahn is a great Jack Dempsey biography (for guys who read)

Kirk Parker said...

Terry,

"You shouldn't google 'men who love young girls'. Never, ever do that."

Heh! There are some things that are very obvious in retrospect (like the time I tried a web search for the small cooler made by Igloo, the unfortunately-named "Playmate". Yeah, not a good idea. )

John Constantius said...

Agree with the general theme of the comments. Men read, but they're not terribly interested in talking about what they read.

My wife will sometimes ask why I never talk about the books I'm reading, and I always say the same thing: "I don't think you'd be interested, and the few times I've tried to tell you about them, you weren't."

Basically I'm pretty sure she's not going to have the slightest interest in e.g. the history of Byzantium, how soccer tactics evolved from the 1860's to the present day, or the life story of Richard Feynman. To be fair, I don't think my male friends care about most of that stuff, so I don't mention it to them either.

I'm actually not sure what I talk about with my male friends. We usually just kind of hang out, drink, play poker and watch sports. Talking about shit is for women.

John Constantius said...

And for the record, googling "Playmate" and "Igloo" wasn't nearly as fun as I hoped it would be. Igloo have apparently google-bombed that particular search. Bastards.

Kirk Parker said...

John C.,

When I first went to google it, I couldn't remember the manufacturer's name. I only knew we wanted to get one for my daughter, to replace the one she had that we lost.

Kirk Parker said...

Believe me when I say, adding "cooler" to the word "playmate" does NOT narrow the search in the desired direction.

RonF said...

I read lots of books. But I never recommend any of them to my wife because I know she wouldn't like them. I read mostly non-fiction. My wife reads entirely fiction.

Gerald Jones said...

Sorry to weigh in late, Ann, but you must have been thinking on this when I posted my sarcastic piece "The Women Won't Let Men Read" on my blog Boychik Lit. And I was leveraging off Jason Pinter's HuffPost piece on the relative scarcity of male-oriented fiction. Boychik Lit