Perhaps contemporary men’s book clubs are less common simply because men read less.
Surveys in the U.S., Canada and Britain consistently find that women read more books than men, especially fiction. In fact, men account for only 20 percent of the fiction market. Oprah’s Book Club and her largely female following have likely reinforced this trend.
It’s possible that reading groups hold a special interest for women as sites for sorting out the social construction of female identity.
According to Elizabeth Long, author of “Book Clubs: Women and the Uses of Reading in Everyday Life,” women, more often than men, deal with conflicting cultural expectations about their roles, duties, and identity.
Conceivably, contemporary women have a stronger inclination to join in collective reflection and dialogue between books and lives because these activities facilitate the negotiation of identity and its complexities.
I suppose the statistics on men and book clubs puzzle me most because it seems that joining a book group would be equally appealing to both genders.
Both men and women crave the periodic escape from the daily grind of work and family responsibilities that reading and group meetings can provide.
Both men and women seek the intellectual stimulation, cultural exploration, and entertainment that books and debates offer.
And certainly, the support, friendship, and validation found in book groups draws members of both genders.
To boil it down:
Don’t men, as much as their female counterparts, like hanging out with friends, discussing, and eating snacks?
Why have men traditionally socialized and bonded over sports games rather than books?
Men, if you belong to a book club, share your experience with us.
If you have insight as to why men remain a small minority of book clubbers, please, enlighten us!
We’d also be interested to hear recommended reads for men’s book clubs.