Has Reading Become Unmanly?

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It seems whenever I see someone reading a book in public, it is almost always a woman. The few exceptions to this are when I see a male college professor going over a textbook of some sorts, but I live near a large university.

Perhaps this is just my perception. But as I said, I live near a big college. I also live less than two blocks from my city’s main library, and there are at least five books stores within walking distance of my house.

So, is it just me? Or is it just my region? I’m not sure.

I do see men in book stores, mostly in the history sections, or biographies or sports. Every once in a while I’ll see a young fellow in the science fiction/fantasy section.

But I see women everywhere in the book stores. And I see women in restaurants with a book at their side or in their hands. I see women on the bus with books.

Again, why is this?

I’m not old enough to know, but I’ve had older relatives tell me there was a time (maybe 50 or so years) ago when many a blue collar worker would have a beat-up paperback novel stuffed in their back pocket. Usually it would be a western or a crime story, but it often as not was a literary author.

I never, ever see this nowadays. There almost seems to be a segment of U.S. society that is downright against education, learning and reading of any sorts, as if reading a book means you’re too uppity or you think you’re better than everyone else. I’m sorry if I don’t find television all that entertaining or interesting, but I’d much rather sit down with a good read than veg out before the tube. But I realise that’s just me.

Why has this happened to reading? Most of the founding fathers of this nation were educated men. True, many of them were farmers of one sort or another, but being a farmer didn’t mean they were unlearned (and doesn’t today, either).

There are so many elements that come in to play here, from our education system itself to modern technology to even politics and religion, that it’s difficult to pinpoint one particular thing that has brought this about. But I will say this, it isn’t unmanly to pick up a book. It doesn’t mean you think you’re better than everyone else if you like Hemingway or Poe or a billion other writers.

It just means you like to read. And in a world that’s becoming more and more dependent upon technology, my guess would be that those who read on a regular basis are going to stand a much better chance of success within their communities.


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