Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thank Goodness For The Fairer Sex

by Michael W. Sherer, thriller author

There are hundreds of reasons I love women, but one of the most important is how much smarter they are than men. (Unfortunately, too many women don’t give themselves credit for it, and more unfortunately most men will never admit it.) I believe one of the reasons they’re smarter is because they read more than men do.

The statistics are out for 2013, and once again women surpassed men in the number of books they read. According to Pew Research, 76 percent of all adult Americans (18 and over) read at least one book last year. But that breaks down to about 69 percent of men and 82 percent of women.

Not only are more women reading than men, they also read at greater rates than men do. The average number of books read by all adults last year was 12, and the median number was five (meaning half of all adults read more than five and half read less). Both numbers are higher if you include only adults who read at least one book—a mean of 16 books and a median of 7. But here again, women outpaced men by a substantial margin. Women read an average of 14 books, compared to 10 for men. 

And all the talk about readers forsaking print books for e-books is just that—talk. The research says that 69 percent of adults read a book in print form, 28 percent read one in e-format, and 14 percent listened to an audiobook. But while the number of books read in e-format increased last year, people are still reading books in print; only five percent of people who read a book last year said they read an e-book without reading a print book. At least 87 percent of those who read an e-book also read book in print, and 35 percent of print book readers also read a book in e-format. 

Some authors are also voracious readers. I’m one of them, so I wouldn’t be one of the “typical” Americans surveyed by the research company. But I know that my reading volume pales in comparison to that of many women, particularly fans of the mystery and thriller genres. And though the research doesn’t touch on genres, I’d be willing to bet that women’s reading interests are much broader than men’s, too. No wonder they’re smarter than we are!

Obviously, building readership is important to authors like me. Sometimes I wonder if that’s an uphill battle because of the way reader numbers skew by gender. With fewer men reading books than women, it’s more difficult to “acquire” a male fan. I think men are more likely to read books written by men (again, I think I’m atypical in that I enjoy books by women with female protagonists as much or more than the opposite). On the other hand, because women are more willing to read a broader range of books from different points of view, perhaps that offsets the lower number of male readers there are from which to draw.

Things could be worse—a lot worse. A Reading Agency study in Britain conducted by OnePoll found that 63 percent of British men don’t read asmuch as they think they should, and 46 percent said they read less than they did in the past. Worse, 75 percent would rather see a film or television adaptation than read the book. (The numbers for women were the opposite—75 percent said they’d rather read a book than see a movie or TV adaptation.) Worst of all, 30 percent of British men admit they haven’t picked up a book since required to in school.

Readers, how do you stack up against these numbers? What types of books do you like to read, and in what formats?

Personally, I’m raising a glass to women everywhere. Keep reading, ladies.

Michael W. Sherer is the author of Night Tide, the second novel in the Blake Sanders thriller series. The first in the Seattle-based series, Night Blind, was nominated for an ITW Thriller Award in 2013. His other books include the award-winning Emerson Ward mystery series, the stand-alone suspense novel, Island Life, and the Tess Barrett YA thriller series.

He and his family now reside in the Seattle area. Please visit him at or you can follow him on Facebook at and on Twitter @MysteryNovelist.


  1. How can I not love a post that proclaims women are smarter than men?

    Sexism aside, the data is interesting, and something I keep in mind when I'm crafting my stories. I do have male readers (whom I hear from nearly as often as female readers), and I'd like to draw even more of them into my series. But I also write for the readers I have.

    Interesting side note: My three sons are readers (and perpetual learners), but they read mostly nonfiction. It would be interesting to see a breakdown of male reading habits by subject material.

    1. One of my sons reads fiction (he's 36 and reads the Classics), the other nonfiction (he's 39).

  2. All interesting... and mostly hopeful. And I'm so glad I'm not trying to sell books targeted for British males.

    I for one, read plenty of male authors and many rank among my favorites. You're a terrific writer, Michael so I don't think you have much to worry about. Especially loving women the way you do. *wink*

    My husband read non-fiction almost exclusively until he retired. Now he's making up for it and reading all over the board. I love it for him.

  3. My parents said we had to move from our first home because I finished the library. I've always got at least one book going. My husband was the sort who, if I told him a library book was something he'd like, would say, "I don't have time" (The library lets us check out books for 3 weeks.) Now he's retired, and is reading his way through my mystery library, has a Nook filled with books, and he's finishing them in a LOT less than 3 weeks!

  4. As a British male reader (& writer) my reading habits are perhaps erratic. As a teenager I was a voracious reader but since then there have been years when I read a lot of hard/paperbooks, and others were I read very few. Over the last year I have embraced e-books - and published one - but still read paper. I read both fantasy & mystery/thrillers plus a few non-fiction history & archaeology. In the last six months read 12 books - 4 paper + 6 ebooks.

  5. I'm a voracious American male reader. My tastes are varied; I enjoy crime fiction, sic-fi, horror, classic literature and non-fiction. I suppose the majority of my reading though, would be in the "weird fiction/horror" genre.


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