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Do men read books by women and vice-versa?

(38 Posts)
UnquietDad Sat 11-Jul-09 14:50:32

Publishers are convinced they don't. They'll even design covers to appeal to one gender or the other.

As most of you are women, do you read many books by male authors? As, until recently, most books were written by men anyway, is this inevitable if you are a wide reader?

Do you find there are more "womensy" books available now, in the post-Bridget Jones explosion, or is that not the kind of thing you like to read?

And do the men on here read much writing by women?... As a male reader, I don't intentionally discriminate. Outside the obvious classics (Brontes and Austen), I have to look along my bookshelf and remind myself of the female authors I have enjoyed in the last few years: Penelope Lively, Margaret Atwood, Maggie O'Farrell, Anita Shreve, Catherine Fox, Catherine O'Flynn, Gillian Cross, Helen Cresswell, Helen Dunmore, Zoe Heller, Hilary Mantel, Libby Purves, Donna Tartt.

I'd rather poke my eyes out than read most of the stuff which is very "female" in its look and tone - all those "feisty" heroines living in London.

(God, all the above sounds like I am fishing for quotes for some crappy article - please be assured this is not the case!)

thumbwitch Sat 11-Jul-09 14:57:58

I read books that interest me, and don't worry whether the author is male or female.

I rather love Christopher Brookmyre for instance. And Jasper FForde. (But not so keen on Tony Parsons, tho he's ok I suppose for a one off) I can't remember who wrote White Merc with Fins but that was a top book.

I do avoid specifically "Boysy" books though ("dicklit") and anything by E.V. Thompson as he has a predilection for nasty rape scenes.

UnquietDad Sat 11-Jul-09 15:06:25

James Hawes, that was. I knew him once. He got a £30K advance which at the time was seen as fuck-off enormous for a 1st novel.

"Dicklit" - will have to remember that one...

slayerette Sat 11-Jul-09 15:12:44

I don't consciously choose books based on whether the author is male or female, just on whether they appeal to me or not. Although I find most chicklit mind-numbingly tedious in its paralysing predictability. I am a huge fan of crime fiction and tend towards female authors there although not as a conscious decision - it just seems to have turned out that way. So - Val McDermid, Karin Slaughter, Janet Evanovich et al.

slayerette Sat 11-Jul-09 15:13:36

Oh and I love Ben Elton's stuff.

UnquietDad Sat 11-Jul-09 15:14:38

I know quite a few women who find most chicklit mind-numbingly tedious in its paralysing predictability AND YET STILL BUY IT!!

llareggub Sat 11-Jul-09 15:17:24

God no. I'll read anything by anyone and gender doesn't come into it. That said, I hate the chick-lit genre with quirky/sassy/ditzty/clumsy/unlucky-in-love/romantic/ (delete as appropriate) heroines living fabulously unrealistic London-centric lives. Hate 'em.

policywonk Sat 11-Jul-09 15:20:14

Isn't it the case that men are much more resistant to female writers than women are to male writers? I'm sure that was the conclusion of a big survey a couple of years ago. Hence Rowling being 'JK', but Pullman being 'Philip'.

Books on my 'to read' pile: Hilary Mantel, David Mitchell, Andrea Levy, Michel Faber (a man), Paul Collier, Bill Bryson, Glen David Gold, Robertson Davis. Actually I'm a bit surprised that this is so male-dominated - my favourite fiction writers are women (Sarah Waters, Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison).

yappybluedog Sat 11-Jul-09 15:22:27

I hate most chick-lit too, although from time to time I am seduced into buying something only to have my opinion confirmed.

The last example of this was 'Mums@home' by Sophie King? It was £1 in Trago Mills so thought why not?, it can't be so bad. Oh, but it was.

hf128219 Sat 11-Jul-09 15:22:35

I very rarely read anything written by a woman. Not deliberate - just my choice in reading!

Dumbledoresgirl Sat 11-Jul-09 15:28:33

I read almost entirely books written by men as I like "men's books". I don't choose by the gender of the author though, it just so happens men tend to write the sort of books I like.

I recently thought I should read something aimed at women so read Sarah Waters' "The nightwatch". I'm afraid I found it utterly boring.

2Eliza2 Sat 11-Jul-09 15:29:33

I had more male readers for my second novel because the publishers were careful to put in some soldiers on the cover. At least, I think this was the reason! The first book was more obviously female-oriented.

BecauseImWorthIt Sat 11-Jul-09 15:34:26

I read all sorts of crap stuff. I particularly like crime fiction, so read male and female writers. Love Sarah Paretsky, Val McDermid, Janet Evanovitch. But also love Christopher Brookmyre, James Lee Burke and Lee Childs - all of whom have very different writing styles.

I occasionally buy romantic fiction/chick lit, but not that often. Would happily buy them if they had been written by men!

UnquietDad Sat 11-Jul-09 15:36:03

yappy - DW has that mums@home book. I had a flick through it because I supposed it was meant to be a satire on... um... somewhere we all know well. It was pretty dull.

LeninGrad Sat 11-Jul-09 15:55:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cheesesarnie Sat 11-Jul-09 15:59:14

i love ian mcewan.when looking for a new book to read i dont check to see sex of authour!

thumbwitch Sat 11-Jul-09 21:55:55

I bought mums@home for that reason UQD and just couldn't get into it at all.

I don't mind some chicklit (i.e. Marion Keyes) but can't abide Sophie Kinsella's moronic pathologically lying shopaholic complete liability of a "heroine" (I read one - urgh)

I read the first 3 Karin Slaughters before my stomach and imagination fully revolted - never again, she is one sick-minded lady! I much prefer Kathy Reichs.

Scarletibis Sun 12-Jul-09 13:15:43

I read books by both men and women, but probably more by women. Like llarebbug I hate all that stuff. I think there might be something in your cover design theory because I find myself drawn more to books by women in bookshops

DH is convinced that books are divided into 'women's' books and 'men's' books hmm - he thinks that on the whole women write women's books and vice versa - but there are a few exceptions. For example JK Rowling and Sebastian Faulks.

thumbwitch - agree about Karin Slaughter

UnquietDad Sun 12-Jul-09 23:37:00

scarlet - not just a cover design theory - publishers actually come out and say it!

Interesting stuff, everyone. Thank you. Any more ?...

Clary Sun 12-Jul-09 23:50:28

I personally prefer books by women but I am widely derided for this (eg by my book group and by other reasers I know).

I have read some good books by men (mostly thru the book group!) eg Ian McEwan. I also lurve the Great Gatsby - but then Fitzgerald was a bit of a girl really.

But my fave authors are Brontes, Austen, Atwood yy, also modern ones like Anne Tyler (swoon), Maggie ofarell, Kate Atkinson, Sue Miller, and many others.

I really really dislike Kingsley AMis, Dickens, Bill Bryson, sorry have read some of these as well. I do like David Lodge tho so maybe I am talkign total crap as he is very male imo.

ElusiveMoose Tue 14-Jul-09 13:05:13

Hmm, interesting question. I read lots of stuff by both men and women, but probably marginally more by men. Funnily enough, if I'm going to read a bit of trash, I'm more likely to enjoy male trash than female trash (I can't BEAR chicklit). But when it comes to more literary stuff, I think men and women write equally good books.

I do think they're different, though. Some people seem to believe that women writers don't 'do' big themes, and only write about relationships. I disagree with this; I think that women do address big themes but tend to write about them in a fairly intimate way, often through the vehicle of personal relationships. (I'm thinking of things like Pat Barker writing about war through the prism of a small group of characters, or Austen full stop.) Also, perhaps women are more likely to believe that relationships and family ARE a big theme in their own right (some men don't like ostensibly personal books because they're not 'about' anything). But obviously that's a huge generalisation, and there are many exceptions. There are some quite 'female' male authors (eg Sebastian Faulks and Vikram Seth, I would say), but perhaps fewer 'male' female authors (ie those where you'd be hard put to guess that the writer was female). I'm thinking Doris Lessing off the top of my head. But anyway, in answer to your original question, I don't discriminate, but I do notice the differences.

bleh Tue 14-Jul-09 13:30:04

I tend to read books by men and don't particularly like books written by women (this doesn't apply to all women authors, just the rubbish ones who spend paragraphs describing clothing). But then, I also tend to read older books (hardly ever read anything written before 1970) so the cover thing probably doesn't affect me. My favourite books are things like "100 years of solitude" or "Anna Karenina", "catcher in the rye" and John Steinbeck (he was the first "adult author" I really got in to, before that it was all Anne of Green Gables, Heidi and the Sweet Valley Twins/high/college)

bleh Tue 14-Jul-09 13:31:42

And I cannot STAND "chick lit". I would hate to waste time reading that when I can read something more interesting/worthwhile.

Threadworm2 Tue 14-Jul-09 13:40:36

Do you think that, for this thread's question, there is any systematic difference between great books that have stood the test of time and all of the published novels most of which will have died a death within a few years?

I mean, among the classics, women and men are represented with moderate equality -- I mean much greater equality than for most other art forms. They are treated with equal respect and have audiences from both genders.

But among the stack-'em-high-and-turn-a-buck crowd of ephemeral books there is a much stricter gender divide, presumably generated by consumerist myths and truths about gender preferences.

I don't know any man who is reluctant to read a novel by a great woman novelist -- or any woman reluctant to read a novel by a great man.

Most books that are any good, that have a chance of standing the test of time, seem to be marketed across gender. The shelf-fillers seem tied to gender just like crap children's toys are.

thumbwitch Tue 14-Jul-09 21:50:29

I suppose if the publishers gear their low-rent books to one gender or t'other, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy really, doesn't it. Men are far less likely to pick up a book in lurid pink with curlicued titles, and so the book is pre-stereotyped to be "women only".
Daft IMO.

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