Why Women Read Fiction: The Stories of Our Lives

Sophie Duncan at Literary Review:

Men not reading women’s writing is widespread, and they begin not reading early. In the university applications that cross my desk, it’s common for male candidates not to mention a single female author, despite otherwise showing evidence of wide and ambitious reading. The opposite is rare.

As it turns out, though, without women, men wouldn’t have much to read at all. Women are responsible for fiction’s survival, as Helen Taylor details in Why Women Read Fiction. We buy, borrow, download and lend the majority of fiction books, from classic literature to romance, erotica and saga writing. Taylor has surveyed more than four hundred female readers, documenting their responses to fiction and their urgent, frequently furtive efforts to scrape out space for reading. Most movingly, a number of Taylor’s respondents stress the conflict between reading and domestic labour: a former library development manager confessed she can only read ‘when I’ve done everything else (washing, Hoovering etc)’, while others recall having faced accusations of ‘sneaking off’ or rudeness for choosing reading over angelic housewifery.

more here.