So one story (or group of stories) going around the writing blogs in the last week is that most of the mainstream "best of" book lists are loaded with titles written by men (lists such as these from publishers weekly, amazon, and then there was the whole snafu about Tor--I think--putting together a "best short fiction" collection that excluded women writers earlier this year). I've been reading up on some things that might be peripherally related to this phenomenon, and I seem to have come up with these facts:
1. The abovementioned assertion that most mainstream "best of" book lists are loaded with titles written by male authors.
2. Most fiction is written by/read by women.
3. Both the Nobel and Booker prizes this year were won by women.
4. The Pulitzer Prize has, in the last decade, been about evenly split between male and female writers.
5. Most men don't read books.
6. Most men who do read books tend to read either non-fiction or male-oriented genre fiction.
7. Mainstream "best of" book lists are loaded with titles written by males...oh, I said that one already, didn't I?
8. I have no evidence to back this up except what I experienced in college and what I've seen around the internets, but most "serious" and "scholarly" literary criticism/writing seems to be done by men.
9. Female writers do not "write like girls." Flannery O'Connor could have kicked anyone's ass.
So I take all of that and I ask a couple of questions: how many of the writers who read this blog (and there are hundreds of you) are men? How many of those men read commercial/literary fiction? How many of you (all of you, I mean) know men who read commercial/literary fiction? How many of you know men who read fiction at all?
I had lunch last week with one of my best friends, and he assured me that he's going to go all out and make himself read One Whole Novel Each Year. Wow, I said. Okay, really I just gave a world-weary sigh and said nothing.
So I'm looking for not only thoughts about why males keep topping "best of" lists in mainstream press (because we live in a patriarchal society, duh), but anecdotal evidence regarding male readers. What's going on in the world? How often do any of you give a book to a man as a present (and then the man actually reads it)? Et cetera.
Also (I'm throwing out a lot of questions today, I know), if it's true that males read less than females, what do you think is the cause, and how can this be corrected?
Edit to add: Here's a cool site.