Goodreads Poll Finds that Readers Stick to Their Own Gender


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?

7 thoughts on “Goodreads Poll Finds that Readers Stick to Their Own Gender

  1. Pingback: Should You Take a Break from Reading White Men’s Books? | Tea Leaves and Dog Ears

  2. I’m not currently reading as much as I used to so let’s look at the last 15 books *purchased* rather than read:
    8 books by male authors
    7 books by female authors

    It’s skewed a little because I bought “Women destroy Science Fiction”, “Women Destroy Fantasy” and “Women Destroy Horror” which are story anthologies containing stories exclusively by female authors (and supported it on Kickstarter. :D). But looking further back the ratio seems to roughly hold.

    (Incidentally, of those 15 books, “Women destroy Science Fiction” is the only one I’ve started reading at this point and it has been EXCELLENT. I’ve read half a dozen stories and found they ranged from good to outstanding.)

    It really would be interesting to know to what extent people are consciously choosing ‘books by men’ or ‘books by women’ vs just ‘buying what they like to read’ and those preferences breaking down along gender lines. I also wonder to what extent that selection is occuring at the publisher level vs the individual level.

    Like most stats it tells you what, not why, unfortunately. :/

  3. Omg, hubby and I just took at our bookshelves and it’s true. Most of my books are by female authors. I have a few by male authors, but mostly my gender, lol. The same goes for my husband’s books. Wow.

    • At risk of sounding like a special snowflake, I was actually struck by this story because it’s not particularly true for me. I find I definitely have more loved-it-since-forever books written by women, but I’d say my collection tends to be fairly 50/50.

      • For me if I take only the all living authors weirdly it’s more by females. If I add the great ones who arer no longer with us, it will bring me to 50/50… But for hubby, we just saw it’s 99% male authors. Loved reading your post… learn a lot, lol.

      • I would estimate a 75% difference in favor of women on my bookshelf. I think part of the issue might be that men usually don’t write the kinds of books I’m interested in. With that said, some of my absolute favorite novels are by men.

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