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.Read the whole thing. The McKays list a number of worthwhile benefits, such as increasing empathy, creativity and the ability to interact socially. And those are all great things. But I'd add that fiction opens up entire new realms of delight, and delight is what we're always seeking, be it in a ball game or a craft beer or any other typically manly pursuit.
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 Roosevelt, Into 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 a while and pick up a copy of Hemingway.
(Picture: CC 2011 by Vermont Historical Society; Hat Tip: Brandywine Books)