SEX AND READING: WHO’S READING WHOM?

Goodreads* has published the results of its survey of 40,000 members to find the facts about gender preferences when it comes to reading. Their initiative was sparked by the 2014 #readwomen movement that was itself the by-product of recent media revelations about the bias towards male reviewers and male authors in most traditional media outlets.

The survey comprised 20,000 women and 20,000 men who are active Goodreads contributors. Unsurprisingly (to me at any rate, based on my personal preference) women prefer books by women and men prefer books by men. However, most readers didn’t consciously pick books by gender; they just gravitated that way:

  • Of the 50 books published in 2014 that were most read by men, 45 were written by men and five were written by women.
  • Of the 50 books published in 2014 that were most read by women, 46 were written by women and four were written by men. If you were unaware that Robert Galbraith was really JK Rowling in disguise, you could change that ratio to 45:5.

The 5 books by women that men are reading

Other results:

  • Despite the deepest fears of most authors, reviews are generally positive. The average review was 3.94 on a scale of 5.
  • Women like new stuff. Women read twice as many books published in 2014 as men did.
    • Overall men and women read the same amount of books. Does that mean men gravitate to the classics or just that they don’t keep up with new releases?
  • A female author’s audience is 80% women. A male authors audience is 50% women and 50% men. Does this mean that women are more experimental and less likely to judge a book based on the gender of the author? I suspect it does.
    • However, quality will out. On average, men rated books by men 3.8/ 5,  BUT they rated books by women 3.9/ 5. Women rated books by women 4/5 and books by men 3.8/5.

The five books by men that women are reading

One final observation from the Goodreads data: male writers are more prone to verbosity – oops, sorry, I mean write in, um … greater detail! Of the authors surveyed and published in 2014, men were more than twice as likely to write a book of 500+ pages.**

This survey was based on the reviews of literary and non-fiction titles. Goodreads will shortly publish the results of their survey based on the genre reading habits of men and women. We’ll be sure to keep you up-to-date.

*Goodreads is a website/online community in which readers share information about the books they read and rate them on a scale of one to five.

** I admit to personal bias in this area. I have had to read too many classic sagas in my time, usually for study or work or to appease a Nordic friend who thought he was doing me a favour giving me a classic saga in translation. The last one was 800 pages long, and I swore I would never read a book over 500 pages again; a moral stand I am currently wrestling with as it does rule out me ever reading Eleanor Catton’s The Luminairies.

Photos courtesy of the Goodreads blog post.

Read more:

 Goodreads: Sex and Reading: A look at who’s reading whom

The Guardian: Readers prefer authors of their own sex according to goodreads survey

 

 

 

 

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