The Guardian website never fails to amuse and to give me food for thought. I have just read a small piece about how to get men to read more. One suggestion was to “re-masculate” books so they will seem more interesting to the male psyche, including changing an obviously feminine cover to depict something more blokey, altering character names from the feminine to the masculine, and perhaps cutting out a bit of the romance. Can’t see that working. However the cunning idea of creating a TV celebrity, (such as a Gordon Ramsay prototype), who could be a foul-mouthed, profanity wielding aggressive type, badgering and hectoring men to read in the same way that Gordon apparently gets men into the kitchen, really caught my attention.
This larger than life personality could go into libraries and yell at male librarians for making the library too “girlie” friendly, suggest wall to wall flat screen TVs, get rid of all the relationship and self help books, and for “bleep” sake, no more chick lit, saga’s or women’s weeklys! This or course would be shown on prime time TV.
I know that this all sounds rather sexist and silly, and that not all men fall into the sport loving couch potato stereotype, but certainly as a librarian I have always noticed that women are our more requent customers. According to the Guardian article, 48% of women fall into the “page turner” category, while only 26% of men are part of this elite group. Meanwhile men get lumbered with the “slow worm” label, of only reading one or two books a year, where only 18% of women are guilty of this misdemeanor. This is all very interesting and somewhat states the obvious, but has someone ever worked out why women read more than men, and is there a role for libraries to maybe help change these statistics?