Recently when I picked up my youngest from preschool, a worker asked me how my novel was coming along. I said, “it’s not ready yet, but I’m working on it. I’m hoping to finish it this year.” Then she asked what it was about and I proceeded to tell her that it is about three moms from completely different lifestyles that have their own little support system for when their lives fall apart. Then I said, “it is women’s fiction.”
Her response: “Well, isn’t all fiction for women?”
The comment has had me thinking ever since. Sure, some men read fiction, but most men (who actually read) seem to prefer nonfiction. They read how-tos and leadership training. They read about history or cars or sports or some other “real” thing that interests them. I would venture to guess, based solely on my personal experience, that most men read little more than what is glowing on their computer screens.
Women, however, do read fiction. We often like to lose ourselves in the lives of a character. Some appreciate a steamy romance, some like to solve crimes, some want something that will make them laugh or cry. As I have often heard, “there is enough ‘real’ in my life… I need the escape.”
When women do read nonfiction, we read about all the things that we see as wrong with ourselves. We read about losing weight, keeping a man, raising kids, and how to be all the things we want to be but know we never will be. It is our nature to self-improve, often to the extreme of masochism. Fashion trends and celebrity gossip are other female faves. You need look no further than the checkout stand at the grocery store to see the smut that sells. Sure we can blame the yellow journalists for the ignorant stories, but really, if no one was buying it, no one would write it.
I am somewhere in between. I balance between fiction and nonfiction. Although I do not have as much time to read as I did before having kids, I like reading about how to improve my writing, the memoirs of people who overcame huge obstacles, and how the stock market works. I also like to read mindless fiction books about women I can relate to. The kinds of books on my bedside table is a revolving door.
I try to balance fiction and nonfiction in my kids’ books too. We go from reading about ladybugs and famous dyslexics to reading about Luke Skywalker, Junie B Jones, and Mickey Mouse. I like to bring out personal creativity and balance that with “real” knowledge.
What about you? Do you read books? What kind? Where did that interest come from? Do you think that most fiction is written for the female audience? Why or why not? Comment below. The more I understand, the better I write.