And Men There Were None: Where Are The Male Readers?

I joined the online book reading/reviewing world only a month ago but I’ve been a lifelong reader. From a young age I loved the worlds that books could transport you to. I vividly remember the first time I started and finished a book IN ONE DAY (Boxcar Children FTW). This was in the pre-internet days where the alternatives were TV, video games and good old playing outside. For some reason (nature? nurture?) I gravitated towards words, books and other worlds. Obviously a lot has changed since those days of childhood innocence. I’m a full on adult – married, two kids, full-time job and I literally have the world at my fingertips. There’s a never ending supply of content which can be delivered across multiple devices 24/7. What I wouldn’t give for a dull moment.

The online reading/reviewing community has been welcoming and fun but I can’t help but wonder, where are all the guys?? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made some great guy reading friends, but peruse #bookstagram or Book Twitter and you’ll quickly notice that this corner of the internet is dominated by females. What’s going on here? I have my theories.

Theory #1: There are simply less males who read books. It was clear from my own childhood that a passion for reading was not shared by many of my guy pals. This trend continued throughout adolescence and college (I was one of a handful of English majors during my undergrad days). There are obvious other hobbies that men gravitate to – sports, video games, tabletop games to name a few – but reading is seldom on that list. I get it, we all only have 24 hours in a day and most of that is taken up by things we HAVE to do. So in those precious few moments/hours we can dedicate to something we WANT to do we have to choose wisely. Side note: how many minutes a day are wasted by simply zoning out on our phones (whole separate post)? All that being said, dedicated time to read books rarely makes the cut for guys.

Theory #2: Women communicate better. This one goes without saying but what I mean here is that in the book corner of the internet, women do a better job of sharing their passion for books on places like Instagram, blogs and Facebook groups. This theory assumes that men are reading books but they’re just not interested in (or are unaware of) the means of communicating this online. I 100% get this one. I hemmed and hawed on creating a blog with the social channels necessary to promote it. It was just ONE MORE THING. I did plenty of research and made sure this was a space I could not only enjoy but also thrive in. If I was going to add something to my list of life priorities I wanted to make sure it was both sustainable and fun (what hobbies are supposed to be right?). All this being said I can say with absolute certainty that women are just better at communicating than men. End of theory.

Theory #3: Men “aren’t really readers”. This is the one I’m going to struggle not getting preachy on because it’s a paper thin excuse. What I think men mean when they say this is that they haven’t had to read an entire book since the last time they were forced to in school and they don’t actively seek this practice out. Because the simple fact is that we are all readers, we read every single day. Emails, cereal boxes, articles – words are everywhere and unavoidable. I think what is trying to be expressed here is that, for a variety of totally understandable reasons, a lot of men don’t dedicate the time required to read books. Whether they’d rather do something else (see theory #1) or they’ve struggled with reading or they simply don’t enjoy it, I’ve heard this reason used as a throwaway answer to a deeper question. It’s easier to chalk it up to “not being a reader” than to delve into the complexities of an honest answer.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic! Any other theories on why there aren’t as many men readers out there?

While you ponder that, check out #getmenreading on Instagram and these blokes who are representing over there: @connors_bookshelf @nargles4life @the_reading_ward @mybookislit @deus.max.machina_ @geeked

14 thoughts on “And Men There Were None: Where Are The Male Readers?”

  1. These are some great points. I myself used theory 3’s excuse for many years. I was forced to read in school, as everyone else would have been. Since that time, between other hobbies and day to day life I always felt I never had time to read. After a few years of not reading any novels I just decided that it wasn’t my thing and I must not be a reader.

    About a year ago (once the pandemic hit and we were locked down) I finally picked up a novel. It was a star wars novel that was recommended to me (Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn). I fell in love with reading immediately after that.

    That’s essentially a long winded way for me to get to the point, which is, I had used to think I’m “not a reader”, but all it took was finding something I was interested in to read about. I find myself now just loving reading in general. I don’t want to just read star wars novels. Now I want to read anything I can get my hands on.

    You’re right, there seems to be less men that read books and it’s hard to find a bookclub for men where you can just chat about a good book, online or in person. It’s encouraging to find people who love to read on these platforms. #getmenreading.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There are a lot of male readers/reviewers out there. It just happens that men don’t cooperate as well as women in a group and so we tend to have much smaller man-groups. Some of us have very small man-groups 😀

    And don’t forget, there are simply more women, period.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This Dad —
    I can get you a list of those I follow/interact with if it’ll help.

    By and large, I agree with you–we don’t seem to make up a large percentage of the bookblogging/bookish social media population, mostly for the reasons you’ve given. Throw in Bookstooge’s point, and you two mostly have it covered.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Males are reading less, that’s true. Plus, they often r reading “more serious 🧐 nonfiction” books :)) to discuss later on: mostly about the world, money-making, business, management, war, history…
    also, most of Instagram book reviewers r working* there, the reading & reviews r for sale = pure marketing. That’s why lots of young girls there. Nothing bad in that, nothing good… this world is a huge market 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I knew a few male book bloggers but most have stopped, although a few are still hanging around although most of those are authors as well. I think there are a decent numbert of male readers but less seem inclined to write about ehat they read which is a shame. We are flying the flag for our gender it seems, no pressure there, then!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is a really interesting post – I’d never really considered this before. I don’t really know many men of my generation who read books. The men I know who read are generally older and unlikely to use social media, let alone even consider the idea of sharing their thoughts on books with others online!

    Liked by 1 person

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