Friday, April 07, 2006


I stumbled onto some discussion of a survey done in Britain about books men read versus those women read. Best analysis was by Echidne of the Snakes.

Scariest quote was this:
On the whole, men between the ages of 20 and 50 do not read fiction.
Wow. I can't imagine not reading fiction. I think I got my first library card about the time I was able to write my name on the application. And read voraciously thereafter. I vividly recall the summer after I graduated from college, sharing a house with three other people rented from an English teacher. The entire living room and dining room walls were covered with bookshelves, and I reveled in the chance to do recreational reading after having little time for anything other than assigned material for so many years.

Reading fiction has always been a fulfilling part of my life. On the other hand, I'm a little unclear on what question people were actually asked in these surveys. Oddly, a search of the net turns up lots of discussion of the media reports of these various surveys, but no links to any primary sources.

I can't think of any book I've read that was truly "life-changing," but when phrased (as it is in the article) which books "meant the most," I can certainly name lots of them. Most specifically, there have been a number of books that changed the way I think about books and literature. Off the top of my head:
  • The Hobbit, JRR Tolkein
  • The Time Traveler's Wife, Audrey Niffenegger
  • Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut
  • Moby-Dick, Herman Melville
  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein
What's all that mean? I dunno. Good books introduce one to worlds one had not imagined, and/or to uses of literature that broaden one's conception of what literature can be.

I suppose one could get a graduate degree with a thesis on this, but for now, a blog entry will suffice.

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