Summer Night Debates

Reading & Writing

I am here on a starry coastline having dinner with eight old friends, and we should probably be discussing favourite books, but instead the subject turns to the unique peculiarities that separate men and women – and it’s suggested that only men would ever produce a poo so big they would want to proudly show other men. I suggest that women can more easily handle magical-realist books than men, having just set aside ‘One Hundred Years Of Solitude’, which I know is a masterpiece but – I – just – couldn’t – finish. Instead I picked up (and enjoyed, until the disappointing ending) ‘Lost Boys’ by James Miller, about the psychological damage of the Iraq war, and am told ‘this is a male book’, which is clearly true.
Women, we know, comprise 80% of the crime readership, so it’s not about squeamishness. But there are clear lines between the sexes in terms of what we read. Should we write more clearly towards one gender?

7 comments on “Summer Night Debates”

  1. I.A.M. says:

    Golly! A book which included really large bowel movements. I. Can. Hardly. Wait.

    [end sarcasm]

    How much have you lot imbibed?

  2. Karin says:


    I couldn’t finish ‘100 Years…’ either. And I distinctly remember an old bf’s daughter insisting I view her big poo! I have enjoyed Charles Bukowski even tho’ I was told I shouldn’t because I am of the female persuasion and that he hates women. All those books I read as a young girl included so-called ‘boy books’ (ie Jack London, Treasure Island etc) which I adored along with my ‘girly books’. Don’t you think there is more to us than certain chromosomes or am I just a weird girl.

  3. Gill Whiteley says:

    No Karin, you’re not weird. I loved “boy books” as well when I was younger especially Biggles and Jennings (this may date me!!). I think if a book is well written it will probably appeal to both genders unless definately aimed at one or the other.

  4. I.A.M. says:

    Just so that people don’t wonder more than is normal about me, the comment above was based on a slightly earlier version of the post, which suggested that differences betwixt boys and girls might appear in a future title.

    Meanwhile, I loved the book Fall on Your Knees by Anne Marie MacDonald, as well as oodles of mysteries. That said, I’d rather gouge out my eyes with a trowel than read an Austen or Eyre, and merely the sight of a Maeve Binchy tome gives one the dry heaves.

    “Mixed Offering”, that’s me.

  5. Steve says:

    Men and women will find (sometimes) different aspects of the same book that resonate with their gender. Trying to be gender specific….?

  6. The wife of a friend of mine picked up my latest book recently and gave it a try. She put it down after two pages and told him ‘It’s very “boy”‘. With which there’s no arguing, really.

  7. Helen Martin says:

    As a former elementary school librarian I’ve noticed that genre likes and dislikes seem to start early. There are girls who present as “sweet” and want sweet stories – pony club, animal ark, and stories about friends. On the other hand, there are girls who want stories where “things happen!” and they’ll go for Harry Potter, the Ken Oppal books about bats and aeronauts, and anything adventurous. Boys tend toward the plot centred adventure stories, but I have seen a number who will read and enjoy the “girly” ones, too. People are on a continuum, not two sides and you get a lot of mixing toward the middle.

Comments are closed.