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Why Are Men Only 20% of Fiction Readers? Guest Article by Leonce Gaiter

By Selane @SummerEllenLane

Why Are Men Only 20% of Fiction Readers? Guest Article by Leonce Gaiter

What's the real difference in the demographics between men and women when it comes to reading? Surveys would suggest that about 20% of the word-loving world belongs to men, while the rest is dominated by the female crowd. Wondering why this is? Honestly, I have no idea. But Leonce Gaiter does. Leonce is the author of In The Company of Educated Men, as well as a frequent contributor to The Huffington Post and an alum of Harvard University. Leonce pondered this interesting subject in a guest article that he has graciously agreed to share with Writing Belle. Enjoy!

It then made sense that men would ask why they should read something "made up" about this world when there was plenty of factual reading material on that subject. I have never approached fiction to re-visit "this world." I'm already here. Instead, I want an alternative-a vision of this world exhaled through the writers' and characters' hearts, minds and eyes. Exhaled with the distinction of the smell of an individual's breath. Fitzgerald's Long Island in The Great Gatsby is his own creation, no kitchen sink recreation. Fitzgerald's people and prose warp this place into something utterly unique.

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles is his distinctive projection of that city. You don't pick up Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside M e with the idea of identifying with the protagonist. You don't grab Faulkner to meet the boys next door or titter with recognition of your kith and kin. You don't visit Patricia Highsmith or Mary Renault to look in a mirror. You pick them up to enter worlds as fantastical in their way as Harry Potter's. I read fiction to meet characters I otherwise would not. I read fiction for the larger than life-not a retread of this one. I want to watch and think with characters who are nothing like me, who dare what I never would, who experience in ways that I cannot.

The research is still in its early stages, but some studies have found that women have more sensitive mirror neurons than men. That might explain why women are drawn to works of fiction, which by definition require the reader to empathize with characters.

"Shall I project a world," asks Oedipa Maas in Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49? Somewhere along the line, in tandem with the female domination of the publishing industry and fiction readership, the ideal of doing so fell from vogue. Instead, writers rely more and more on identification with this one. Male readers seem to have checked out.

Why Are Men Only 20% of Fiction Readers? Guest Article by Leonce Gaiter

Leonce Gaiter is a prolific African American writer and proud Harvard Alum. His writing has appeared in the NYTimes, NYT Magazine, LA Times, Washington Times, and Washington Post, and he has written two novels. His newly released novel, In the Company of Educated Men, (http://bit.ly/ZyqSuN) is a literary thriller with socio-economic, class, and racial themes.

In the company of Educated Men


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