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Where are the men? Part 1

During the last 15 years, book clubs have spread across the U.S. like wildfire. But of the millions of book club members out there, only 20-30 percent are men.

During the last 15 years, book clubs have spread across the U.S. like wildfire.

Of the millions of book club members out there, only 20-30 percent are men.

The vast majority of reading groups are all-female, although couples book clubs and mixed gender clubs are not uncommon. A 2002 study found that all-male groups comprise a measly 10 percent of book clubs.

I have interviewed an extensive number of book clubs throughout the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota and have encountered only a handful of mixed-gender groups and two all-male groups.

While I have unintentionally come across several mother-daughter book clubs, I have yet to find a father-son book club.

Historically, reading groups were first established and popularized by men, so why are today’s men so unenthused about the concept?

I can think of a couple reasons why women and men might want their book clubs to remain single-gender.

First, club meetings may foster female or male bonding, and provide an atmosphere free from the stress of gender relations or concern of sexism.

Second, women and men tend to have different reading interests.

Men gravitate toward nonfiction and historical fiction; women tend to prefer fiction and memoir, particularly stories with female protagonists. Action-adventure and science fiction are genres women alone tend to avoid, along with books on war and books containing graphic violence.

These observations speak to the mediocre showing of mixed-gender book clubs and the proliferation of all-female clubs, but fail to explain the scarcity of all-male clubs.

Tomorrow: Where are the men? Part 2