Sunday, March 1, 2009

Wanted: A Few Good Men?

There's been some discussion on Shelf Awareness about the lack of men in book clubs. Why don't men join book clubs? They obviously read, and from my experiences reading DorothyL, they have things to say about the books and writing and whatnot.

In my book club at work, we are all women as well. I think losing the other gender in discussions leaves out a dynamic. What I love most about the book club is hearing what others think about the books because everyone brings different experiences to their reading. Others see things that I didn't or interpret things differently from me. Obviously, different genders are going to have different experiences reading as well. I have a male friend at work who discusses books with me informally and that's a blast.

So, let's hear from the guys out there. Why don't you participate in a book club? What might prompt you to join one? Or if you do belong, what are your experiences? What do you like or dislike about the club? A Shelf Awareness reader from Illinois commented that they had a Men's Book Club. O.k., so some participation from the men there, but it's still losing the dynamic of having both genders comment on their experience reading the same book.

Lady book clubbers, have you experienced book clubs with AND without men? Can you share some of the differences you noticed between the two?

And as a final note, the Shelf Awareness reader from Illinois said, "the ladies swoon every time I mention that I've got a Men's Book Club meeting to attend."

Happy Reading!


le0pard13 March 1, 2009 at 1:54 PM  

Interesting subject, Jen. And you are correct in that men do read. In fact, my VPs (both men) at work sponsor a book club for their reporting dept/divisions. The books they put out, one a quarter, are the non-fiction, work-related type--Getting Things Done, Five Dysfunctions of a Team, etc. They purchase the dozens of the selected work and freely distribute them to whoever want them. They then schedule a free lunch in the next quarter to discuss it as a group.

That said, though, those that attend are still disproportionally mostly women. Perhaps, it is because book clubs are more social--an aspect women are more at ease with compared to most men. Plus, a good number of men still have difficulty with discussing feelings (at least in a surrounding of less than intimate others). Sure, we'll point out the quality or key technical aspects of the writing or plot (something measurable), but generally we'll not point out the emotional connection to a character or circumstance in a book.

Of course, this is one male's opinion--and an older, domesticated one, at that. I, too, am interested in hearing from others on this. Some of my female co-workers, the more jaded ones, think it all has to do with testosterone-poisoning ;-).

Jen March 2, 2009 at 6:13 PM  

Testosterone poisoning! Ha! I like that one. I always say it's something unique in the Y chromosome! :) That chromosome is also responsible for the remote control phenomenan! ;)

trish March 3, 2009 at 2:42 PM  

I work with a guy who is in a book club comprised of him and three other men. I think the difference is that we tend to read different things. Studies have shown that men read more non-fiction. You couldn't pay me to be part of a book group that read non-fiction even half the time, let alone most of the time.

Also, I think girls tend to discuss things ad nauseum (myself included). Men tend to say what they think and be done with it.

Dave March 3, 2009 at 2:56 PM  

I'm in a book club that has several husband-wife pairs, and I know of other all-male clubs. But most male socializing seems to revolve around sports -- playing or watching, rather than more introspective pursuits. Maybe if there was a book club that included a segment for drinking, spitting and swearing ...

Jen March 3, 2009 at 6:41 PM  

That's a thought, Dave! My book club read PLAYING WITH THE ENEMY, and at times I thought the women were a bit harsh on the Moore - the father, not the author son. I have a feeling that the male perspective would have been very different. I don't think the women could really appreciate the intensity of his love for baseball. But, I could be imagining thing, too! LOL

DantheMan777 March 30, 2009 at 1:59 AM  

It's all in the advertising.

Jen, I was Googling and stumbled across your blog. The answer for me is (1) advertising and (2) relationships. There aren't too many men who want to join an all-women book club. There are also few men who will begin a book club of their own. You see the problem. Don't advertise that you are an all-women group unless you wish to remain such. Let prospective club members discover that tidbit on their own.

As a C.S. Lewis fan, I am intrigued by his group of Inklings. Men have to be pretty passionate about a subject of interest to remain committed over a period of months (much less years). They also have to be willing to dive deeper than sports, cars, and women. Few men are willing to do so. In college, I belonged to an informal reading group composed of men and women. We were all history majors. Participation in that group was one of the most genuine and enriching experiences of my life. 15 years later, I still miss those times.

Between a full time job, graduate studies, and caring for a family (two small children), I will have to wait a few more years before I have the time to devote to a reading group, but I look forward to experiencing this type of community again in the future.

  © Blogger templates 'Neuronic' by 2008

Back to TOP