Goodreads Poll Finds that Readers Stick to Their Own Gender

Nobody likes a book with cooties.

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Goodreads recently polled 40,000 British citizens on their reading habits and among the many trends that popped up, the one making the rounds today is all about sex. Namely, the surprising gender divide between male and female readers and the writers they prefer.

The survey found that men and women stick closely to their own camps with 90% of the 50 most-read books by men coming from male authors, and an identical 90% of the 50 most-read books by women coming from female authors. Female readers were also slightly more critical in their ratings of books penned by the opposite sex — giving them an average 3.8/5, compared to the 4/5 for works by female writers.

What this brief glimpse at the study doesn’t determine is whether female authors who use male pseudonyms, or initials in place of gender-revealing first names, might be more likely to gain an unwitting male audience. It’s also a little surprising that the enormous success of John Green in the past year doesn’t account for more books by men on women’s lists. Is the scant 10% of books those written by authors who are actively trying to appeal to the opposite sex, with men reading Hunger Games and women reading The Fault in Our Stars?

In one sense, it seems logical that people prefer to read books or stories that are aimed at their own experiences and come from a perspective that they can relate to. On the other hand, it is disappointing that more people aren’t trying to branch out and identify with more foreign points of view.

But what’s really disheartening is that we still tend to view books written by women as less substantial and less “important,” which — given Goodreads’ findings — may just say more about who’s in charge at the top newspapers and publishing houses than anything else.

Does the Goodreads poll reflect your own reading habits? Are you trying to branch out and try new things, or do you prefer to stick to particular genres and authors?

Sarah Arboleda lives with a human and two cats in British Columbia, Canada and writes for a number of blogs including her own — the pop culture-based Tea Leaves and Dog Ears. If you’d like to yell at her, feel free to do so over Twitter.

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