A couple of years ago, British author Ian McEwan conducted an admittedly unscientific experiment. He and his son waded into the lunch-time crowds at a London park and began handing out free books. Within a few minutes, they had given away 30 novels.
Nearly all of the takers were women, who were “eager and grateful” for the freebies while the men “frowned in suspicion, or distaste.” The inevitable conclusion, wrote McEwan in The Guardian newspaper: “When women stop reading, the novel will be dead.”
McEwan’s prognosis is surely hyperbole, but only slightly. Surveys consistently find that women read more books than men, especially fiction. Explanations abound, from the biological differences between the male and female brains, to the way that boys and girls are introduced to reading at a young age.
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