She Says, He Says

Parsing the results of a recent reader survey


Readers and writers — a symbiotic relationship. Ideas spark writers to create stories and build worlds and characters for readers’ consumption. Readers add imagination and thought to interpret those stories, deriving meaning and enjoyment in the process. A story is incomplete without both reader and writer.

As in other aspects of life, the Mars-Venus divide is evident in the reading habits of men and women. How different? A 2018 survey of over 2,400 people from around the world offers a few answers.

  • Women read more than men: 60% of women and 29% of men read more than 30 books a year.
  • Women read more fiction than men: 71% of men versus 88% of women read more than 50% fiction.
  • Men and women prefer different genres: The top genres for men are mystery/thriller, military/war, science fiction, historical fiction, and fantasy. The top genres for women are mystery/thriller, romance, historical fiction, women’s fiction, and literary.
  • In their nonfiction reading, men have a much stronger interest in history and politics than women. Women are more likely to read biographies and memoirs.
  • Where do men and women acquire books? Men are less likely than women to make online purchases and more likely than women to use bookstores. Women use libraries more than men.
  • Paper or electronic? Women are more committed to e-books than men; men are more likely to read print books.
  • How about social media? Women use social media for reading purposes to a much greater extent than men and are more frequent users of Goodreads, Facebook, and online promo sites. More specifically, 25% of women use social media daily, compared with 10% of men.
  • How do social media enhance your reading? Men are more likely than women to value consulting a range of opinions before purchasing a book. Women place more value than men on using social media to connect with authors.
  • Do you read solo or in groups? Men read solo more than women. Women are more likely than men to participate in book clubs.
  • When choosing a book, covers are more important to women than to men.
  • Where do you get recommendations? Men are more likely to rely on friends or browse the bookstore. Women are more frequent users of review sites and blogs.

The complete 2018 reader-survey report is available at A Writer of History.

M.K. (Mary) Tod writes historical fiction. Her latest novel, Time and Regret, was published by Lake Union. Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads, or on her blog, A Writer of History.

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