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Do Men Read?

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Do Men Read?
Well, um, yes, of course they do, but a recent Publisher’s Weekly study found, not surprisingly, that most men prefer nonfiction and most women read fiction. I fit that category like many of my female friends, so when I ask “do men read?” I mean, do men really read?
To me, fiction requires reading, immersing oneself into a story and the lives of characters. On the other hand, when I find myself perusing nonfiction, thumbing through pages of history and memoir and biographies, it feels OK to not absorb every single word.
Men are good, ok, professional, at skimming. Perhaps it is that “remote” gene that allows them to hop from show to show when they get control. Women, speaking for myself, feel guilty. What if there’s a test and I skimmed that part? I still have that dream, about not going to class, 25 plus years after I took my last class.
But if men really read, I recommend that they should read these authors, who to me should speak more to men than women (but for whatever reason speak to me).
  • Chang Rae Lee’s Aloft – spot-on grasp of midlife angst and regret in the Northeast
  • Walker Percy’s The Last Gentleman and The Moviegoer – displacement and unease with humor mixed together in New York City and New Orleans
  • Richard Ford’s Lay of the Land and his preceding Independence Day – a veiled Princeton and hilarious take on real estate, writing and the challenges of post-marital dating and the lifelong challenges of parenthood
  • Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections – one can’t surpass the martini hedge trimming scene 
These are just a handful of my other male must-reads – Portnoy’s Complaint, Catch 22, Franny and Zooey, Crime and Punishment, and A Confederacy of Dunces.
So you might ask, why is a woman recommending a male must-read list? Because I just don’t see enough of my male friends reading great novels – yes they read nonfiction and thrillers (which generally aren’t great novels) and business books (how many leaders does it take to write a leadership book?). But novels take one out of their safe zone, out of their lives.
So go ahead, try it. You’ll like it. Hey Mikey.

Moderated by Wendell Collins.

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