I’ll admit I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but it looks like there are less guys reading in their spare time than gals. Particularly with the younger generation – at least within the circle of people I know – it seems relatively unlikely for a middle-grade or teen boy to sit down and read a book for fun. Not to over-generalize of course, there are always exceptions.
My family is the perfect example of this possible trend: my husband reads approximately one book per year and my ten-year-old son reads maybe 6-10 books per year, including books he has to read for school and graphic novels. As for the females in my family: I read about two books per week on average, and my two daughters read probably 3 or 4 books each per week.
But why is this? You might guess that books can’t compete with video games, but my husband doesn’t even play video games (although yes, my son certainly does). My girls and I also love video games!
Does it even matter if guys just don’t feel like reading? Maybe not, but I’m so passionate about books and reading, of course I want to share it with everyone. So how can we get more boys interested in delving into a good book?
Consider the following young adult (YA) book covers. These are pretty typical of what greets you when you walk into the YA section of any book store.
I’m not saying all the covers in the YA section look like this, but let’s face it, a lot of them do. These are obviously meant to appeal to girls (and women). Also, you’ll find most of the main characters within these books are female. So here’s the next question: are most of the books in the YA section meant to appeal to girls because they’re the ones doing all the reading or is the reason guys aren’t reading more because hardly any of the books are marketed towards them? I’m guessing it might be a bit of both.
I could be way off base here, but my intention with my latest book, Welcome to the Darkness (which comes out in August 2013), was to appeal to both sexes equally. Firstly, the main character is a guy. I believe this might help boys to identify with the story more easily , yet girls still enjoy books with male main characters, like Harry Potter for example. Secondly, my novel is packed with action and adventure; there’s no sitting around trying to figure out what to wear on prom night in my book. There’s also no girl in a flowing dress staring off into the pastel-coloured distance on the cover. And my author name is L. M. Justus, which if you don’t know me, prevents you from knowing whether I’m male or female and thereby instilling preconceived notions about male or female authors.
So, who knows, maybe this method won’t work, but I’d be so thrilled if I found out I’d engaged even one reluctant reader with my writing. I know I can’t please everyone, which will become clear once I get my first set of one and two star reviews. The only way to avoid the poor reviews is to not get any reviews at all, which would be even worse! I think the whole negative review thing is a topic for another post though.
Happy reading everyone!