Apparently, people are under the impression that guys aren’t reading. Now, I’m sure that there is a warehouse full of marketing data somewhere–possibly an aisle or two down from the Ark of the Covenant–to back up this claim. However, I think the truth is a bit closer to what Chris Goldberg states over at The Huffington Post:
“Where are the badass young male writers of today? Would Hunter S. Thompson or Kurt Vonnegut or Brett Easton Ellis or Jay McInerney or Alex Garland or Chuck Palahniuk even get book deals if their debut novels were written today? How can we make reading novels — and writing them — cool again for guys under thirty?”
The problem isn’t that there are no books for guys on the market. The problem is there aren’t a lot of pretentious, over-blown novels that you’ll look cool reading on the train or sitting at a Starbucks. It’s a biased statement based upon one group’s concept of what’s considered worthwhile literature. This is similar to the problem that’s been discussed regarding YA novels, particularly by Jen and Diana.
I certainly have no problem finding books to read, and probably won’t any time soon, as long as James Rollins, Steven Berry, Jim Butcher, and Neil Gaiman keep writing–not to mention the offerings from Hard Case Crime. Also, there doesn’t seem to be a lack of guys reading on my commute each morning. I see names like James Patterson, Robert B. Parker, Vince Flynn, and Tom Clancy each and every day (admittedly, Mr. Goldberg does mention Patterson, alongside Stephen King and John Grisham).
See, I don’t think the problem stems from the authors or the publishers. I think the problem comes from the public. A public that is more concerned with appearance than with entertainment. A public that “wouldn’t be caught dead reading (insert author or title here).” A public that looks down on people who read for entertainment, thrills, and escape (which doesn’t mean you can’t find a deeper meaning in a book just because it’s also fun). A public that, as a friend of mine once said, is clearly afraid of awesome.
I admit that the above is more than a little knee-jerk and ranty, but this is one of the topics that really raises my hackles.