Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Are Men From Venus?

So today, I'm happy to mention a new book that comes out this week: Confessions of a Contractor by Richard Murphy. I don't really know Richard, but his galley was passed to me by a mutual friend, and I really enjoyed it. Head out to your local store or to Amazon and pick up a copy today!

What I found interesting about Richard's book (among other things) - and what I'm finding more and more these days - is how appealing a man's writing can be to a woman. In fact, some of my favorite writers these days - Jonathan Tropper, Tom Perotta, Nick Hornby, Larry Doyle, Joshua Ferris - are men, and I think that Richard's book falls well into the same category of these aforementioned authors. All of their books transcend gender lines, and some, in fact, might even been aimed slightly more AT women than at men. (For example, Tropper's How to Talk to a Widower was widely read by a lot of female friends I know.)

But when I thought about the flip side- do men read works by female writers - I started to think that maybe this is a one-way phenomenon. Am I crazy? I can't ever imagine seeing a guy pick up a book by Jennifer Weiner or Emily Giffin or even less-chicky writers like Jodi Picoult. (Well, maybe Picoult. Maybe.) Yes, there's a huge category - women's fiction, duh - devoted to female writers and their readers, but there really isn't such a thing for men. Is there? Have I missed something?

So are female writers being helped or hurt by this? I'm not sure, to be honest. I suppose that part of the whole "women's fiction" or "chick lit" category is nothing more than a marketing ploy...and that really, even if a book didn't have pink on the cover (or whatever), men wouldn't be interested in the words inside. And maybe having these easy categories helps women readers narrow down their choices at the book store. Hmmm. I don't know. But it definitely makes me think.

What do you think of the gender divide in books? Do you tend to read mostly male or female-authored books? Or doesn't it matter? And don't forget to pick up a copy of Richard's!


Anonymous said...

Honestly I think the answer is the old standby, "that depends."

I read women mystery writers a lot, I read travel narratives by women, general non fiction by women, essays and poetry by women.

But I do not read books that I perceive to be in the category of "chick lit" (I still have Bridget Jones Diary on my book shelf, but I still haven't read it).

Charles Brown

Anonymous said...

I read "Time Travelers Wife" to expand my horizons from the typical male-oriented sci-fi/Tom Clancy/Stephen King genre and didn't like it at all. It was "well written" but the story didn't really capture me.

I think that more male writers are attracting women readers because there is a strong economic incentive to do so: women make up a large majority of fiction readers.

Ad Hudler said...

So what do we say about the GUYS who have been pegged as chick-lit writers? That's me, and I'm not sure how the hell it happened, but ever since my first novel, "Househusband" came out in 2002 I find my audience has largely been women. Does that mean I think like one? Communicate like one? Or is it the subject matter I choose for my books?
-Ad Hudler