Thursday, June 16, 2016

Reading: man vs woman. Gender or personality?

Reading. Let’s face it, you’re here on this blog because you enjoy reading and are into books. After all, this bloggity is mostly about books. Book reviews, books promos, author promos, and all things book. Okay, I admit, there are some lifestyle and beauty things thrown in, but those are few and far between.

Reading is sexy

This is a new series for me on the topic of reading, if the last paragraph hasn’t clued you in. On one of my many sleepless nights (I’m a terrible sleeper!) I was lying awake and thinking stuff. The thought about reading popped into my mind. How we read, what we read, why we read. Then the sleep deprived me thought it would be a good idea to do a series of articles on the topic of reading and voila!

I decided to start with exploring reading as a gender function. Do men read differently from women or is reading just reading? It doesn’t matter the gender of the person reading? I asked a few people (both men and women) the question and they were kind enough to provide me some insights into their reading habits. I don’t know if I can draw any gender conclusions from the information but I think men are more matter of fact about reading than women are. It seems to me, reading can be a bit more emotional for women than men, but then, this is not an extensive study, so please don’t quote me.

Let’s start with the first question. I asked if the person was a big reader. According to the Pew Research Centre, the people they surveyed read about 6 to 15 books a year on average. 

Arni said he loves to read. I don’t have a definition of “big reader” (personally I average about 160 books a year), but he says he loves reading and doesn’t do enough of it. Interestingly, he said, regardless of numbers of books read, he considers himself a big reader. Arni reads about 5 to 100 books a year, depending on the year. Of recent years, the number has been closer to 5 as other things have taken his attention.

Crimson, on the other hand, is what I would consider a BIG reader. She reads about 550 books a year. I cannot comprehend reading that many books a year. How do you remember them all and keep them straight? That’s more than a book a day. In fact, that’s 1.5 books a day.

Michelle, reads probably what I would call a more normal number of books, which is 1 to 2 books per week, with her annual reading count at about 100 books a year. Very similar to Arni. She did also mention how many books she reads depends on the length of the book. Fewer if the books are longer (like Outlander) and more if the books are shorter.

All three of them say they read daily or close to daily. I like that reading is a daily habit for them, as it is for me.

Library books
Photo via Visualhunt

Then I got into the types of books read.

Arni said he likes fantasy, science fiction, legal thrillers, suspense/thrillers & sometimes children's books. I asked if he read romance, and he somewhat scoffingly called them "chick books" although he has read the odd romance in his time. It's just not his preferred genre to read.

Crimson had a very interesting list of what she liked to read. I gathered from her response most of her reading fell within the romance genre and what she listed were sub-genres within romance. She liked reading BDSM books. When asked why, she said "I dance around the fringe of the lifestyle.  I no longer go to parties but I am active in our local community. I enjoy reading new BDSM scenes. I enjoy the D/s parts. I can live vicarioualy through some of the BDSM books as my spouse is no longer into kink." She also had a similar reason for enjoying erotica. Other romance sub-genres she mentioned enjoying included romantic suspense for the mystery and hunky military heroes, sci-fi/fantasy and urban fantasy for the innovative and inventive world building and paranormal for the sexy creatures that go bump in the night.

As you all know, I'm partial to dragon shifters. :-)

Michelle, though, seems more selective in her reading. She loves romantic suspense because she enjoys the mystery and the romance combined. I also know Elaine Levine is one of her favorite authors. I love Elaine's books too!

Of course, being a lover of romance, I asked if happy endings were necessary in the books they were reading.

I gotta say, Arni's answer surprised me, but it also sounded rather like something a guy would say. Am I wrong? "Most books have happy endings. Even the dystopian ones. That's what people expect and want. Necessary? Only for writers who want to make a living off writing books." Trust Arni to also bring in the fact that writing a good story is as much about getting the story out as it is to make a living.

But then, Crimson's answer surprised me to. She said most books have happy endings because that is what the publishers expect of them. I did not think it was a publisher's requirement for a happy ending, rather than a requirement of the genre. If you're reading a romance, I automatically think a happy ending is a requirement. It's part of the trope and the rules when it comes to romance as a story. Crimson also said she doesn't need a happy ending though. She is fine with sad endings and even a happy for now ending.

Personally, I'm all for the happy ending. I'm a complete sap that way.

Michelle is more like me though. She NEEDS a happy ending. They are necessary to her. She feels there is enough bad news going around in the world, and when she reads, she wants to escape. She doesn't need her books to add to the bad news going on. She does not like books without a happy ending.

Then I asked why do you read? I mean, people read for many reasons, right?

Arni says it's a form of entertainment, just like watching movies or playing music. It can also be a good way to escape the mundanity of daily drudgery by immersing myself in a faraway fantastical world.

I'm the same. Reading is entertainment and escape for me.

Crimson's response was very interesting. "It is an addiction.  I need it too keep me balanced.  I have a stressful job which requires a lot of thinking.  Books help me relax and escape." Very interesting it's an addiction for her. I can definitely see where it can be an escape from a stressful life or job, but not that it's an addiction. But with her reading over 500+ books a year, I can see where the addiction comes into play!

What about Michelle? Well, she never really thought about why she reads. Her mother read, so she's read and she's enjoyed it, and now her daughter reads.

I love how the family reads. My mother and father both read, and if you read my About Me page, you'll see my mother was the one who encouraged me to read and gave me a love of reading. Funnily enough, neither my brother nor my sister read. Of the three of us, I was the only one who caught the reading bug off my parents.

Of course, when it comes to reading, there's the all important TBR (to be read) pile or list. Pile if you're still reading paper books, list if you've moved onto eBooks.

I'll keep this one brief.

Arni has about 500+ books in his TBR. According to him "too many". He says "there are hundreds more that I haven't yet bought and thousands more I'm intentionally ignoring in an attempt to keep my TBR list 'short'."

Crimson is sitting around about 1,700+. Yikes!

And Michelle? Well, I applaud Michelle. She only has about 30 books in her TBR. How is this even possible? I can sneeze and add another 10 books to my list.

Don't ask me about my list. It's a LONG, LONG list. I've given up keeping track. *looks down in embarassment*

Kindle app books 1 Kindle app books 2

Finally, in today's digital age, eBook or paper book?

Arni says "although I have a wall of unread paper books, and still buy paper books for keeps, I almost exclusively read ebooks. I even buy the books I have in paper format again as an ebook to not have to read the paper books. It's simply much easier to have the books on the Kindle, my cellphone and my tablet, and be able to read whenever I have time and wherever I am, especially since that kind of intermittent reading is probably about 80% of all reading I do. The third option is of course audio books, which I also love. Those I "read" when I travel, and also while doing mindless chores like cleaning the house or something."

I'm the same as Arni, eBooks for convenience of reading wherever, whenever, but paper books for keepsakes. I have a growing collection of signed paper books and those are the only paper books I keep now. Shelf space is a premium.

For Crimson, it's very much a matter of practicality, since she reads so many books.
"I read mostly eBooks because I write 500+ reviews a year. With eBooks, it is easier to highlight what I want to mention and download it when it is time to write reviews.
    I also travel for work which makes it easier to carry one eReader instead of books.
    I do not lose my place in my eBooks either.
    The best part is that I can carry as many as I want for vacation. Usually my vacations are 2 weeks. I used to have to limit to 10 books and bring about 15 business related magazines to read through. Now, I can bring 50+ books and read through those easily.  It is fabulous.
    I have an eReader with a light.  This makes it fabulous for reading at night.  It has saved my marriage as my spouse was pissed as I read late into the night.
    This also helped declutter my home.  I used to have about 4000 books in my house.  I sold off and gave over ½ of them away.  I am now down to just 2000.  I keep hoping to downsize a bit more.
    That being said, I do read paper books.  I usually get these from the library.  Although I do use overdrive now from the library.  This allows me to borrow eBooks too."

And of course, Michelle has gone completely digital. Good for you, Michelle! "I like to read in bed at night. This way my hubby is not complaining about the lights getting turned off and I can read as late as I want. I also love that when I finish a book, I can go right into a new one!"

So there you have it. Views from a guy and a couple of girls. I can't detect anything which points to gender difference other than the preference of reading romance for the women and a happy ending, though it doesn't seem like a necessity for Crimson.

I think from the answers I've read between Arni, Crimson and Michelle, reading is more a matter of personality and person preference than it is gender.

What do you think? Do you think reading is a gender thing or a personality thing? Do you read? Do you love a happy ending? Do you read romance?

A big thank you to Arni, Crimson and Michelle for taking the time to answer a few of my questions. I really appreciate your time and input.

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  1. WOW this is a great topic and great answers is it gender I am not sure for me personally most of the males I know do not read where the females do don't get me wrong I do know Guys who read but very few.

    I think I am a big reader last year I read 175 books so I have set a goal of 200 for this year and so far I have read 87 I think not bad going.

    Types of books I read Romance and woman's fiction I need a HEA or something that will satisfy me :)

    Again yes I love my HEA a happy ending yes please

    I read for escape for enjoyment and pleasure and also I have always read as did my Mum she encouraged me always and I often feel I am reading for both of us (miss her so much) 2 of my 3 sisters read lots as well

    TBR pile is massive I have no idea how many e-books and paper books I have LOL (I love it though)

    I read e-books these days so much easier all round although I will still read the odd paper book and I confess to having a huge keeper shelf and I still add to that I have so many signed books I love them :)

    Have Fun

    1. Wow! Thank you for your answers. It's so special you read for your mum too. You must have a very lovely bond with her. I would miss my mum too.

  2. Oh boy, I've learned I need to proof read my responses better. Good lord the misspellings and grammar errors! *hangs head*

    1. LOL. I admit I didn't edit your answers all that much. My bad.

  3. This is such a great article Deanna and very interesting. Thank you for taking the time to compile it :)

    Lily x

    1. I'm glad you found this interesting. I was wondering how it would be received.