September 27, 2007

My friend, Summer, recently sent this interesting report on gender differences in reading. I wasn't shocked that women read more then men, but shocked to see how much more they read. I can't imagine only reading 4 books a year...I usually read 2-4 books a week and that's not counting kids books. I guess my personal experience with reading is skewed. Growing up I was accustomed to seeing all of the adults around me reading books. At the beach, the tv was placed in the closet and everyone would pile stacks of books on all of the surfaces. Often the big room would be filled with family members quietly reading next to each other with occasional "readings" for all to enjoy thanks to my cousin, Willie. I just assumed that was what others spent their time doing at the beach between body surfing and beach combing. The men in our family read just as much and in some cases more than the women in our family. And now that I have a little family of my own it warms my heart to see Noah and Camille developing a strong love for reading. I really hope that reading will always be a source of comfort, escape, learning, and joy for them.

The NPR report also prompted me to think about my own educational experiences. Going to an all-girls Catholic high school, followed by a small women's college, and finally social work school (also predominantly female students), I didn't have too many opportunities to read or discuss books with male cohorts. I never really gave it much thought until we lived in Okinawa and Adam started asking me about the book group I belonged to (all women). He expressed a desire to do something similar so we started up a couples book group. I loved that book group. Having a mix of men and women gathered once a month to pick apart and savor various books was a new experience for me. I was struck by how refreshing it was to have men in the group. It impacted the types of books we chose and the way we discussed them....more honesty, more debate, and more depth. I think men are just as capable of empathy (look at how many authors are men) as women, but it is interesting to think about and I wonder what future studies will show about those mirror neurons. I really hope that women and men never stop reading and that the novel never dies.

I keep meaning to start a book journal. A place to list books I want to read. A place to write about books I have read and enjoyed. But the reality is I usually write down these lists and thoughts on little scraps of paper that seem to float around the house until they get lost or turned into dryer lint. Then I recently discovered Shelfari. A very cool site where you can keep track of books. Categorize them. Create a reading list. Rate them. Review them. A much better solution than my little scraps of paper. We are continuing to have computer issues but when they get resolved I will try to link my reading "shelf" on the blog. For now here is a peek. You can click on the labels at the bottom of the page to see "categories" for my books...currently three pages of books but I am sure more will be added soon. If you join, let me know so we can swap reading lists!
Amy, Ryan, Aidan & Lauren said...

That is really, really neat. We like so many of the same books. I will try and join one of these days!

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