Why Men Should Read More Fiction

My news magazine on the iPad occasionally includes a clip from a site called The Art of Manliness, and this one was irresistible after last week’s post on whether or not fiction is good for us. Well, this piece argues men need to read more fiction … here’s the opening and you can read the whole for the reasons why:

At the Art of Manliness, we encourage our readers to read books. It’s through reading that we gain new perspectives and learn more about ourselves and the world around us. I’m a big believer in the saying that “Readers are leaders.” As I’ve studied the lives of great men throughout history, a common thread I’ve found is that most were bibliophiles who relentlessly pursued self-education throughout their entire lives.

While many men have stacks of books accumulating on their “to-read” pile, chances are that pile is composed primarily of non-fiction tomes. For the past 20 years or so, the publishing industry has noted a precipitous decline in the number of men reading fiction. Some reports show that men make up only 20% of fiction readers in America today.

There are a lot of reasons thrown around as to why many men today don’t read fiction. Perhaps they had a bad experience with it in high school and swore they’d never read a novel again as long as they lived. It’s possible that the male brain is just naturally more drawn to the straightforward, fact-driven nature of non-fiction. And some have suggested that men are getting their storytelling fix from the many excellent narrative non-fiction books that have come out in the past decade (e.g., The Rise of Theodore RooseveltInto Thin Air).

Whatever the reason, cognitive studies are beginning to show that men might be short-shrifting themselves by avoiding the fiction section in the bookstore and library.  Today we make the case for why you need to put down those business books every once in awhile and pick up a copy of  Hemingway.


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  • Barb

    Number 1 reason: it will give you something to talk about with women.

  • gingoro

    In our house I read the books both fiction and non fiction. I suggest both fiction and none fiction to my wife to read but she mainly works at her art or plays computer games. Originally when I shelved my fiction collection,. there probably were somewhere between 30 and 60 meters of shelving. Now there are less as I have been taking boxes to the thrift store to dispose of.

  • My husband introduced me to Science Fiction/Fantasy and our lives have never been the same… 🙂 I fell in love.

  • DRT

    All men, and women, should read the Art of Manliness http://artofmanliness.com/

    Now, for the cynical, reading so you can talk to women is a very legitimate and worthy undertaking! Consider the alternative is to not care about women and you see my wisdom.

  • As a lit major in undergrad, I cannot emphasize the importance of fiction in men’s lives. It is not just story that fuels our dreams as boys, but also fiction that shapes our understanding of the world today, gives us tools to evaluate worldviews around us, and inspires us to live a life story worth living. Stephen King once wrote: “Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.”

  • Kyle

    What news mag app are you using?