Posted in Guest Post, reading on February 11, 2015

Today we welcome author Leonce Gaiter and his thoughts on why men don’t read as much.  I live in a house with 2 guys and neither one is a huge reader….makes me sad because there is so much I think they are missing!

 

Why Men Opt Out of the (Women’s) Fiction World

Fewer and fewer men read fiction.  They compose only about 20% of the fiction market according to surveys. Some lay this off to genetics, suggesting that the way men’s minds work discourages them from entering into another’s experience the way fiction demands.

“Boys and men are, in general, more convergent and linear in their thinking; this would naturally draw them towards non-fiction,” wrote author Darragh McManus, pondering the question.

Others, like Jason Pinter, suggest that the overwhelmingly female publishing industry simply overlooks books that appeal to men because they fall outside the female experience.  In other words, men now suffer the same fate women suffered at the hands of a male-dominated publishing industry for so many years—and payback’s a bitch.

Others suggest that boys are discouraged from reading at a young age by children’s books that fail to engage them.  Give them the proper material, the story goes, and young boys will engage with reading.  They point to the fact that young males were principal consumers of the Harry Potter books as proof.  “More boys than girls have read the Harry Potter novels,” according to U.S. publisher, Scholastic. “What’s more, Harry Potter made more of an impact on boys’ reading habits. Sixty-one percent agreed with the statement ‘I didn’t read books for fun before reading Harry Potter,’ compared with 41 percent of girls.”

I always balked at these rationales because I read fiction all the time.  However, thinking on it, I had to admit that I avoid modern fiction like the plague.  I have tried the popular plot-thick page-turners and the feel-good tearjerkers and the occasional cause celebre with a literary reputation.  So many have left me so cold, that I simply won’t shell out the cash for a paperback or e-book version, much less a hardcover.

Trying to assess what I found lacking in most of the current novels I attempt, I find their utter reliance on the world around them (and me) supremely dull.  So many work so hard to place characters in a world I will recognize.  Too many work hard to create characters with which I (or their prime demographic audience) will ‘identify,’ and recognize as someone they could be, or someone they know.

It then made sense that men would ask why they should read something “made up” about this world when there was plenty of factual reading material on that subject.  I have never approached fiction to re-visit “this world.”  I’m already here.  Instead, I want an alternative—a vision of this world exhaled through the writers’ and characters’ hearts, minds and eyes.  Exhaled with the distinction of the smell of an individual’s breath.  Fitzgerald’s Long Island in The Great Gatsby is his own creation, no kitchen sink recreation.  Fitzgerald’s people and prose warp this place into something utterly unique.

Raymond Chandler’s Los Angeles is his distinctive projection of that city. You don’t pick up Jim Thompson’s The Killer Inside Me with the idea of identifying with the protagonist.  You don’t grab Faulkner to meet the boys next door or titter with recognition of your kith and kin.  You don’t visit Patricia Highsmith to look in a mirror.  You pick them up to enter worlds as fantastical in their way as Harry Potter’s.  I read fiction to meet characters I otherwise would not.  I read fiction for the larger than life—not a retread of this one.  I want to watch and think with characters who are nothing like me, who dare what I never would, who experience in ways that I cannot.

In an article titled, “Why Women Read More Than Men,” NPR quoted Louann Brizendine, author of The Female Brain suggesting a biological reason why women read more fiction than men:

The research is still in its early stages, but some studies have found that women have more sensitive mirror neurons than men. That might explain why women are drawn to works of fiction, which by definition require the reader to empathize with characters.

What horseshit. Reading, and reading fiction, require no such thing.  They require that you understand and grow intrigued by characters and situations.  You need not imagine yourself as them or believe that they behave as you would.

Perhaps more men stopped reading fiction when fiction stopped presenting unique worlds, and settled for presenting this one so that readers could better “identify.”  Maybe we’re too megalomaniacal to “identify” with that.  We want words recreated, not rehashed.

“Shall I project a world,” asks Oedipa Maas in Thomas Pynchon’s “The Crying of Lot 49.”  Somewhere along the line, in tandem with the female domination of the publishing industry and fiction readership, the ideal of doing so fell from vogue.  Instead, writers rely on identification with this one.  Male readers seem have checked out.

 

About the Author

Leonce_GaiterLeonce Gaiter is a prolific African American writer and proud Harvard Alum. His writing has appeared in the NYTimes, NYT Magazine, LA Times, Washington Times, and Washington Post, and he has written two novels.  His newly released novel, In the Company of Educated Men, is a literary thriller with socio-economic, class, and racial themes.

 

WebsiteTwitter

 

 

company of educated men

Amazon * B&N * Apple

goodreads-badge-add-plus

 | 
Comments Off on Guest Post – Why Men Opt Out of the (Women’s) Fiction World @leonceg @nkim_astor @AstorandBlue
Posted in Challenge, e-books, reading on January 1, 2013

It is that time of the year again…time to sign up for a reading challenge or two.  I enjoyed this challenge last year so am signing up again and hope to read more than 30 of the hundreds of free e-books I have on my readers!

I went a little crazy the end of last year signing up for blog tours and such and will be slowing down on that a little..more on the review side.  This will free up some time for me to read more of what I have on hand.  I think I’m going to aim for doubling that 30 to at least 60…but we’ll see how it goes!  I will give updates as the year progresses.

 | 
Comments Off on Why Buy the Cow? 2013 Reading Challenge
Posted in Challenge, e-books, reading on January 1, 2013

So back at the beginning of the year I signed up for a challenge to read some of the e-books I had on my reader that were purely for fun and FREE (and legal!). I did pretty well and read 30 books that had been sitting on my e-reader for lord knows how long.  Also, I have to factor in review books, book club books and books I get from the library or a book swap site for series that I am reading! I do have to say that I rarely buy e-books so pretty much everything I have on my reader has been free.  I took a vacation in December but only read 3 books on this challenge, guess I was having too good of a time!  But those 3 books pushed me up to the Super Saver level…although I see for 2013 that the levels are different and it won’t be the Super Saver level!

In 2012 I have read these books and all were free on Amazon or through the Sony Store at one time or another:

  1. ‘Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy – Leslie Langtry
  2. Guns Will Keep Us Together – Leslie Langtry
  3. Always the Designer, Never the Bride (Emma Rae creation) – Sandra D. Bricker
  4. Three Wishes – Stephanie Bond
  5. Design on a Crime (Deadly Decor) – Ginny Aiken
  6. The Wedding Gift – Kathleen McKenna
  7. The Do-Over – Kathy Dunnehoff
  8. Woman in Charge (Studs 4 Hire) – Sherry James
  9. The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook – Josie Brown
  10. Counting on You – Lisa Bork
  11. Shut Up and Kiss Me – Christie Craig
  12. Champagne for Two – Patrice Wilton
  13. Talk Nerdy to Me – Melissa Blue
  14. Pups in Tea Cups – Carolyn McCray
  15. Tuesday’s Child – Dale Mayer
  16. Swim – Jennifer Weiner
  17. Pet Whisperer…er…rrr – Carolyn McCray
  18. Kill the Competition – Stephanie Bond
  19. Foreclosed – Traci Tyne Hilton
  20. Bridesmaid Lotto – Rachel Astor
  21. Cut, Crop & Die – Joanna Campbell Slan
  22. If You Can’t Stand the Heat – Robin Allen
  23. Only Us – Susan Mallery
  24. Divorced, Desperate and Delicious – Christie Craig
  25. Whole Lotta Trouble – Stephanie Bond
  26. When Stars Align – Stacy Lynn Lewis
  27. I Think I Love You – Stephanie Bond
  28. The Groom’s Cake – Leeta Angel
  29. Edith – M.B. Forester-Smythe
  30. Dating a Cougar – Donna McDonald
 | 
Comments Off on Why Buy the Cow? Reading Challenge final results!
Posted in Challenge, e-books, reading on November 1, 2012

So back at the beginning of the year I signed up for a challenge to read some of the e-books I had on my reader that were purely for fun and FREE (and legal!). I’ve done pretty well so far this year and have read 27 so far this year. Not bad since I have to factor in review books, book club books and books I get from the library or a book swap site for series that I am reading! I do have to say that I rarely buy e-books so pretty much everything I have on my reader has been free.  I am taking a vacation in December so hopefully will get more of these books knocked out!  Just have to figure out how to use my new tablet effectively.

So far in 2012 I have read these books and all were free on Amazon at one time or another!:

  1. ‘Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy – Leslie Langtry
  2. Guns Will Keep Us Together – Leslie Langtry
  3. Always the Designer, Never the Bride (Emma Rae creation) – Sandra D. Bricker
  4. Three Wishes – Stephanie Bond
  5. Design on a Crime (Deadly Decor) – Ginny Aiken
  6. The Wedding Gift – Kathleen McKenna
  7. The Do-Over – Kathy Dunnehoff
  8. Woman in Charge (Studs 4 Hire) – Sherry James
  9. The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook – Josie Brown
  10. Counting on You – Lisa Bork
  11. Shut Up and Kiss Me – Christie Craig
  12. Champagne for Two – Patrice Wilton
  13. Talk Nerdy to Me – Melissa Blue
  14. Pups in Tea Cups – Carolyn McCray
  15. Tuesday’s Child – Dale Mayer
  16. Swim – Jennifer Weiner
  17. Pet Whisperer…er…rrr – Carolyn McCray
  18. Kill the Competition – Stephanie Bond
  19. Foreclosed – Traci Tyne Hilton
  20. Bridesmaid Lotto – Rachel Astor
  21. Cut, Crop & Die – Joanna Campbell Slan
  22. If You Can’t Stand the Heat – Robin Allen
  23. Only Us – Susan Mallery
  24. Divorced, Desperate and Delicious – Christie Craig
  25. Whole Lotta Trouble – Stephanie Bond
  26. When Stars Align – Stacy Lynn Lewis
  27. I Think I Love You – Stephanie Bond
 | 
Comments Off on Why Buy the Cow: Reading Challenge Update 2
Posted in e-books, reading on June 9, 2012

So back at the beginning of the year I signed up for a challenge to read some of the e-books I had on my reader that were purely for fun and FREE (and legal!).  I’ve done pretty well so far this year and have read 9 so far.  Not bad since I have to factor in review books, book club books and books I get from the library or a book swap site for series that I am reading!  I do have to say that I rarely buy e-books so pretty much everything I have on my reader has been free. 

So far in 2012 I have read these books and all were free on Amazon at one time or another!:

‘Scuse Me While I Kill This Guy – Leslie Langtry
Guns Will Keep Us Together – Leslie Langtry
Always the Designer, Never the Bride (Emma Rae creation) – Sandra D. Bricker
Three Wishes – Stephanie Bond
Design on a Crime (Deadly Decor) – Ginny Aiken
The Wedding Gift – Kathleen McKenna
The Do-Over – Kathy Dunnehoff
Woman in Charge (Studs 4 Hire) – Sherry James
The Housewife Assassin’s Handbook – Josie Brown

 | 
Comments Off on Why Buy the Cow? Reading Challenge update
Posted in Cozy, reading on August 29, 2011

It was a great weekend, but maybe not one for reading.  Took me several days to read the book by Lee Harris and that is something I normally knock out in a day. 

On Friday I got another book in my mailbox.  Another cozy, Lost and Fondue by Avery Aames.  This is the second in the Cheese Shop Mystery series. The first is The Long Quiche Goodbye.

From the back of the book:

Charlotte Bessette – proprietor of Providence, Ohio’s, charming Cheese Shop – is busy catering a fund-raiser for her best friend, Meredith.  In addition to gourmet fondues, Charlotte is serving an array of delicious cheeses and delightful wines – the perfect complement to the setting of the wine tasting party, a once abandoned winery.  But not everyone is happy, for the winery has long been a source of local legends about hidden treasures – and buried bodies.

When a fresh body is found in the wine cellar and Meredith’s niece, Quinn, becomes the chief suspect, Charlotte trades in her fondue fork for a flashlight to prove the case against Quinn has more holes than a slice of Swiss cheese.  But as Charlotte’s sleuthing starts to turn up the truth, the killer starts to turn up the heat.

 | 
Comments Off on Monday’s Missive
Posted in mailbox, reading on August 26, 2011

I saw this on other blogs and thought it might be nice to let you know when I get books in the mail and what I received.  I belong to 2 book swap sites, Paperbackswap and BookMooch.  Both are great sites to find books that the library might not have on their shelves.

Since I have so many books to read at home I try not to request too many…why add more to my shelves when I still have so many left to read?  I could stop working and if I didn’t get any new books, I think I have enough to read for 2-3 years assuming I read a book a day.  Now some of these books are on my e-readers so they don’t take up as much space, but I have 3 bookcases and a couple of boxes full of books.  And to prove it, here is a picture of just one of the bookcases.  Now I say that I have 3, but well one is by the fireplace and has mostly books I want to keep.  The other is in a spare bedroom and books only occupy a part of it…so maybe I should say I have 2 bookshelves full of books.  Of course the main bookshelf has books stacked 2 deep and 2 high when possible.

I’ve been trying to get books only at the library when I want to read a new series or continue on with another, but that doesn’t always work especially if the library doesn’t have all of the books.  That is probably the most frustrating but then that is where I turn to my book swap sites to fill in the gaps.

This is my most recent book that arrived in my mailbox:

The Yom Kippur Murder by Lee Harris.  This is the 2nd in the series featuring an ex-nun Christine Bennett.

From the back of the book:

When ex-nun Christine Bennett arrives at her elderly friend’s apartment to accompany him to Yom Kippur services, she finds him murdered.  He was a lonely widower, estranged from his children, and since Christine took a special interest in his life, she is determine to do the same for his death.

The police arrest someone almost immediately, but Christine doesn’t sing hallelujah yet.  Despite her years in the Church, she is quickly learning the ways of the secular world: men and women forsake their souls, protect their sins, and never forget the past….

 | 
Comments Off on In my mailbox
Posted in reading on August 23, 2011

I don’t post reviews on all of the books I read because that would mean a post every day or two…which wouldn’t be bad but then would I get everything else done and wouldn’t that slow down my reading?  So I thought maybe I could just post what I’m reading with a synopsis of the book and you could decide from there.  While this isn’t a tome per se, I thought the word went well with Tuesday!

Right now I’m Reading Chihuahua of the Baskervilles by Esri Allbritten.  I would define it as a cozy mystery since non-detective characters are solving the mystery.  Here is the synopsis from inside the dust jacket:

Tripping Magazine is a quirky low-budget magazine that reports on travel destinations for believers in the paranormal.  A few fake hosts away from throwing in the towel, the Tripping staff gets the tip of a lifetime when they get a call from Charlotte Baskerville, the rich founder of a clothing company for small dogs.  Charlotte thinks that her Chihuahua, Petey, has come back from the dead, and she’s desperate for someone to come verify his appearances.

The magazine’s three person reporting team travels to Manitou Springs, CO, sure that the ghostly dog will be a work of fiction.  But when they arrive, they see evidence of Petey with their own eyes.  And he’s not just floating by – he’s howling advice and spelling out threats with tiny paw prints.  Is the ghost real, or is the whole phenomenon an elaborate ruse?

The Tripping team must navigate the kooky world of coffin races, scheming husbands, and doggie fashion to solve the mystery – and get their story written at the same time.

 | 
Comments Off on Tuesday’s Tomes…