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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Gender differences in book choice and impact on publishing

So many blogs have posted a meme that asks for the title of a book "that has changed your life." Thinking about this topic is too labor intensive for me, and as I read various choices listed, I agree first with one, then another.

Here, however, is an interesting article from the Sydney Morning Herald that asked that very question of men and of women in separate surveys.

The article begins with this statement: "The novel that means most to men is about indifference, alienation and lack of emotional response. The novel that means most to women is about deeply held feelings and a struggle to overcome circumstances and passion."

Hard to disagree with that; at least to me, that seems a logical result. The article gives both lists.

I've read 13 on the men's list and 13 on the women's list (Heart of Darkness and Catch-22 appear on both lists), but don't know that any one of them changed my life. Each had an effect, but they all broadened my experience in a different way.

While the conclusions often seem logical, I nevertheless found them fascinating. For example: "Most of the men cited books they had read as teenagers, and many of them stopped reading fiction while young adults, only returning to it in late middle age." It doesn't surprise me, but I had never really thought about looking at it that way--and that this fact should have a great deal of influence on the book trade.

1 comment:

  1. How interesting--but I agree with you that none of these books "changed my life." I think the change made by fiction is very incremental--it broadens the outlook, richens your experience, but as far as a dramatic change, no.

    (Inever heard of Oranges are a Different Fruit. Must look it up.)