Why Do Men Not Read As Much As Women?

About a decade ago, Ian McEwan, a British Author and his son conducted an unscientific experiment. They advertised and began handing out free books one day in the heart of London, UK. Within a few minutes, they had given away 30 novels to women! The women were excited, eager and thankful for the book while the men “frowned in suspicion, or distaste.” The conclusion, wrote McEwan in The Guardian newspaper: “When women stop reading, the novel will be dead.”

Excuse me, what’s that all about? I read, damn it and I would take a free book any day! But wait…maybe I wouldn’t especially if its a chick-lit book. No thanks. Ah ha! Maybe that’s the issue of us men! Are the novels available to the world geared more to women than to men?

I did an internal family poll beginning with my Mother. She mentioned my grandfather also read to her and my uncles. However, he stopped reading to the boys when they became of age. Why was that? Turns out, most of the books got to be too childish and feminine-like for the boys, my mother admitted. My grandfather wanted the boys to do learn to work with their hands and become REAL men, more than read nursery rhymes.  Could this be the beginning of the inevitable less-men-reading-syndrome?

I next asked my father the same question. He later picked up reading but only to attain passing marks in school and to win my mother’s affections. Nice one Dad!

Could these be the reasons? Were we taught at a young age to be macho; manly man; not weaken our appearance before men and women? For what its worth, is this the same stubborn attitude why us guys refuse to read maps or to stop to ask for directions? Ok you’re right…let’s not go there with the latter…
I put the word out to get some answers: Why do men not read books as much as women? The following testimonies ensued:

“I’m tired of people saying Men Don’t Read. Men LOVE to read. I’ve been a reader my whole life. My father is a reader. Most of my male friends are readers. But the more publishing repeats the empty mantra that Men Don’t Read the less they’re going to try to appeal to men, which is where this vicious cycle begins. Publish more books for men and boys” ~ JASON PINTER is the bestselling author of five thriller novels

“I think Men have more options in today’s society with 21st century technology. It seems some men are more content to read a newspaper than invest time in a book….Otherwise they will abandon it in an instant….now that there are “mash up” books like Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and Emma and the Vampires which introduces people to classic literature with a modern twist to it. These books have inspired more people namely boys and men to read more Jane Austen as a result”~ DB of MVBC

“I think men stopped reading because women started to dominate the market. The women were suppressed for so long that when it because available for them to write–they wrote with women in mind…Less and less, there wasn’t a market for books geared for male interests. The introduction of the television also saved men from having to read a book. A lot of guys still read books but not a lot women are men write with them in mind”.~JV of MVBC

“Allow me to be frank. I admit women are far more willing to spend their time, effort and money on something that can make them feel good and not too much fuss when enjoying it, and, for some, reading is giving them such effect. While men are more into taking actions, doing things, on the go, and reading “freezes” them. Too many times I’ve heard men said that reading is a waste of time, not cool or only for wimps. That’s too bad. Little do they know women nowadays finds men who read attractive. Sexy even.”  ~DS of MVBC

“[MEN] think reading is outdated, 2) There are more books for women than for men, and 3) Their boss won’t let them escape work.” ~Andhyta Fisrselly U (@Afutami)

“I always thought that men who read don’t use to talk about as women do. It is a common thought, at least in some environments, that read is time wasted. But it is supposed to that women can’t help themselves to dream and talk about so although it is an unproductive task *sigh* women are women (sarcasm). I know men who read. In fact, I’m proud to say that I have good examples in my family, but overall the grown of them are quiet readers…” ~AR of MVBC

“Reading was a major entertainment inJane Austen ‘s day; now it must compete with TV & Internet!”~Patricia Milburn (@grannyuser)

 “Men used to read a lot in the 17th/18th centuries. They were also the main writers of books. Women, in order to be seen and heard, often had to pose as male writers to get their works published. The tables have changed considerably with two world wars….Reading fictional novels didn’t pay the bills, put food on the table or end two world wars. Men are reading but now its not so much a paged-book; now, its computer, ipod, ipad, iphone or cell phone screen”. ~SK of MVBC

“[MEN]… are too busy watching sports!” ~Anna Votino Stabolid (@figjam666)

“I think Men have got lazy over the years…too busy watching sports!ears. They can’t be bothered to read if it doesn’t benefit them right here and now. It’s sad. We rely too much on the women in our lives to read for us: mothers, sisters, girlfriends, wives” ~HP of MVBC

“Two words: SPORTS and INTERNET” ~Sofia Lopez Garcia (@Sophi0518)

Well, gentleman and ladies, there you have it. All very interesting opinions; all valid; all make sense, don’t you think? OK Men, what are we going to do about this? Can we possibly balance our reading habits to that of the female persuasion. Why Do You Think Men Don’t Read As Much As Women? We welcome your comments!



Welcome EVERYONE to the ManVsBooksClub!


19 thoughts on “Why Do Men Not Read As Much As Women?

  1. When my sons were growing up, every night I would make my world famous cinnamon toast and cocoa and while they ate I would read out loud. Usually everyone in the house ended up sitting there and listening and I tried to select books that were a little more difficult than what they were reading themselves. We read The Hobbit, The Three Musketeers, The Foundation series, and many others and they are still readers. My husband plays tennis and watches it on TV, but he also reads, but it is difficult for him to find books that are written at a high intellectual and literary value. It really annoys him to get to the end of a book and find a disappointing finish or find that the mystery is based on a false premise. He doesn’t enjoy as wide a variety of books as I do, but he does enjoy some things that I find exceedingly dreary- like Dostoyevsky. Ugh. I like to feel good when I finish.


    • Dear C. Allyn Pierson,
      You did a great work with your children showing them the pleasure of knowing great new stories through the books. Then, when we grow up we chose our own way. We are tree sisters and each one has their own kind of book and all different from my mother used to read. She loves comic and that is because my first reading of “Frankenstein” was as a graphic novel. ~AR of MVBClub


  2. Personally, I should say all the guys I know read a lot, and do not complaint about lacking of literature for them. It is true, I admit, that they are kind of “gamers”, “geek”, “freaks” etc., so they are open to comic, manga, science fiction or adventure books. I don’t think they are ‘manly” books (I really enjoyed, for example, Songs of Ice and Fire and Watchmen), but they are not girly at all.
    However, I think that girly/manly thing is, sometimes, just a prejudice. Jane Austen is my favourite author, and my boyfriend laughes at me for that, making fun of her (supossedly) cheesy stories. One day I read him out loud part of a Jane Austen book without him knowing where it came from, and he laughed hard with her witty irony. A male friend of mine has recently given Austen a chance and fell in love with her. Another one of my friends reads tons of shojo manga (directed to girls) and enjoys them even more than the manly ones.
    Maybe girly literature is not always that girly, and boys should open up a bit. After all, almost all the boys I know are much more romantic than I am! But even if they don’t want to, science fiction and epic literature, and mystery literature too (I am not an English speaker, sorry if I fail to give something its proper name!) are mostly directed to them. I think best-sellers may be meant for women (some at least), but a big world of less known literature is there, waiting for them to enjoy.


  3. Thanks for your thoughts!

    Dear Marie,
    I can’t help to recall the film “The Jane Austen Book Club” and how the girls are surprised when one of them invite a male friend but at last the group grown up with another two man. I don’t think there are manly or girly book. All it depends of the personal taste and the willingness to be open to new books. ~AR of MVBClub


  4. Hm. Some of these people seem a bit uninformed when the majority of reviewed books are by men. There is plenty of good lit/nonfic out there for men.

    All the men I know really enjoy reading. They just aren’t as vocal about it. I get that. I think some men do feel it’s a waste of time and thus, they feel uncomfortable sharing that they do something that others see as wasteful.


    • Thank you for your great comment and views! It’s wonderful to know that they’re are men out there who still love to read books! We hope that through this site, we can encourage more men to open up to reading more and loving it! Thank you again ~SK of MVBClub


  5. Ugh. Not feeling well and didn’t realize I really hadn’t fleshed out comment. Majority of reviewed book IN major book news outlets…

    But I think you’re right overall – either men aren’t reading as much or they’re not talking about or communicating about their reading habits. For sure. Cool blog!


  6. Firstly I would like to say how much I love you’er website, it is great to see a website geared to the thoughts of men on the subject of reading! Why don’t men read as much as women, Personallly I think there has been a complete switch over the centuries, there was a time in the 16th, 17th,18th century when it was the man that was more well read than the woman, as time has passed by so have the habits of the male and female, during the 19th century it was football, cars and planes that took over the male interest! They spent less time reading and more time working and playing sport, so much so that at one point it was almost deemed un cool for a man to be seen reading a book in the eyes of some “Silly I know” I have always been surrounded by men that read and read alot, I love a man that is well read, I find it attractive if a man has lots of books and knows his Jane Austen from Dickens, I think most women do really! Men are reading more and more again though thank goodness! I applaud this fantastic site and will visit often. A writer and reader myself I love what you are doing here please find me on twitter at @torrenstp 🙂


    • Thank you Dawn for your great comment and views! You speak truth with your reasons why men dont read as much as women. Unfortunately, sometimes modernization eliminates a lot of ‘old-school’ delights–like reading. Men have become working men and more technology-driven than readers of novels. We hope this site will generate more interest in men reading. Like you said, reading is a most attractive attribute too that women love in men! Thank you Dawn for taking the time to comment on our blog. Cheers ~SK of MVBClub


  7. Fantastic post! I agree with most of the comments above, and I just want to add that it is a pity when I hear my male friends tell me that I could do “something more profitable or useful than reading in my free time”. However, I am happy to say that my dad, who had never in his life read a book, is now a reader. He reads every day. I had a lot of patience and gave him small books, some of them even children books, to make him grow fonder of reading. One day I gave him the first book in the Harry Potter series, and he liked it. So he read the whole series! Recently he read all the books by Louise May Alcott. And now he is reading a collection of books: “The Hollisters”, which are books for kids and teens, but he is enjoying their adventures 😀 So men can change their vision about books and reading. My dad did, so why not other men as well?
    I love this blog! Cheers – Cinta.


    • Thank you Cinta for your excellent comment! It is men like from your father’s generation, we notice, have a sincere love of books! How wonderful to hear how he still reads even the modern-day books and keeps an open mind to read them! With reading comes knowledge and a love for more! We hope men follow your motto…”men can change their vision about books and reading. My dad did, so why not other men…” Thanks Cinta and thank you for the positive feedback about the blog! ~ SK of MVBClub


  8. They don’t read as much? Seriously? Have you SEEN my house? No? oh. Well, we’ve got more space dedicated to books than to kids’ toys (with a 5 year old and 2 year old, this is impressive). MOST are my husband’s.

    The difference between our stuff? His is more historical, scientific, non-fiction stuff (read “really big and heavy). Mine is more fiction stuff. We both read all the stuff (ok, I don’t read the stuff in Olde French), but we’ve different tastes/priorities.

    Why isn’t it considered “reading” to read a book on chemistry? It’s considered “studying chemistry.” If those sorts of things were considered “reading” (along with newspapers and magazines) I think we’d find things about equal.

    My 438 cents.


    • Thank you very much Shannon for your sincere and great comment! How great to hear about your history-science-non-fiction significant other, enjoying reading! We wish more reading and loving books as he does! It is true, if a book does not have a story line, they consider it a ‘study’ or some form of a text book/manual. However, reading is reading and for us men that read–are sexy! ~SK of the MVBClub


      • I should mention though, that there are novels we both have enjoyed quite a bit. We both really like the Dresden Files (Wizard PI in Chicago). I know many men that (if you can corner them) will tell that they enjoy Harry Potter. I also know a few who will admit to enjoying the Sookie Stackhouse books (but in fairness, they made it into TV, so it became more “manly” after that. The covers don’t lend themselves much to a masculine audience.

        Since I’m new here, the big question (to me anyway) is, do you get more men or women commenting (when you can tell)? My name is ambiguous, but I’ve got two X chromosomes.


      • Dear Shannon: Thank you for your superb comment on the blog entry! Also for the recommendation of other books that can get more men and women enjoying together. You make a very interesting point in your comment…’covers don’t lend themselves much to a masculine audience’. This a topic that we would like to further research on the MVBClub blog. Thank you for mentioning this very pointed reasoning! We are also new to the blogging world and we both accept male and female responses to our blog. We have both sexes enjoying commenting, contributing and are apart of our staff. ~JV of MVBClub


      • I normally don’t actually read newspapers, but I was on vacation a few weeks back and saw this in my Mom’s paper. I think you’ll find it quite interesting. It mentions the book cover issue, but from a different perspective. This is about “women’s lit” and why it’s often relegated (in the author’s opinion) to the lower shelves (I contend women are more likely to check out all the shelves). Anyway, here’s the link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/01/books/review/on-the-rules-of-literary-fiction-for-men-and-women.html?_r=1&ref=review


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