Thursday, May 22, 2014

On Reading: The Battle of the Sexes

I've got something a little controversial I'd like to talk about today: Men's books versus Women's books.  Lately, I've heard these labels thrown around quite a bit, and I finally decided it was something that I wanted to post about.  For starters, there seems to be a fairly widely-accepted "rule" among readers that there is such a thing as a man's book or a women's book, although there is some disagreement about what each of these categories entails.  For some, the belief is that women prefer genres like cozy mysteries, romance novels, and family the exclusion of all else.  If you've read my blog for awhile, you'll know that these particular stereotypes do not hold true for this particular lady!  And in my experience in libraries over the last fifteen years, the stereotype really must be taken with a grain of salt--some women do enjoy these genres, sure, but many also love horror, thrillers, suspense, science fiction, fantasy and other books that tend to fall under the "men's" stereotype when it comes to fiction.  On the other side of the coin, I know quite a few men who really enjoy reading family sagas and mysteries (and perhaps even the occasional romance novel).

There is also the question of these same issues when looking at nonfiction books, too.  Military history?  Obviously a man's book, right?  Cookbooks are women's territory?  Not so much.  Even within subjects, there are discrepancies.  If you're browsing yard care, the landscaping and deck-building books are men's subjects, but flower and vegetable gardening must be the most popular with women, right?  Nope! 

Where am I going with all of this?  That there is no such thing (in my opinion) as a man's book or a woman's book when it comes to subject matter or genre.  How limiting and boring it seems to this librarian, to only walk down certain aisles of the library or to ignore whole shelves of books there for the reading.  Look beyond the us versus them mentality the next time you're browsing for something to read--you just might be surprised at what strikes your fancy.

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