The first rule of book club: you do NOT talk about book club.
I’ve talked before about my love for Slate’s podcast Slate Culture Gabfest, and one of it’s most recent topics was the manliness of reading, specifically men’s book clubs. Traditionally, book clubs have been for groups of women, and there is a very typical “book club book”. My beloved club of nurses in Bethesda was pretty typical; we were all women and really really enjoyed our snacks. Our choices ran the entire range: we read fiction, history, science fiction, fantasy, romance, mystery, comedy, military biography–each of us were so different that our taste was inevitably reflective of this.
Slate Culture Gabfest argues that fiction is becoming stereotypically feminine, particularly in America. Taking this one step further, reading is for girls. And let’s just face it, girls have cooties.
The recent rise of men’s book clubs points to adorable facets of gender stereotypes. While women’s book clubs are generally happy to read and move on (half of our book club generally did not ever read the book, but came for the wine), some men’s book clubs on Good Reads have other fun activities. One club rates the book and keeps a running tally of each book they’ve read, while others just create “ultra manly lists” ranked by level of manliness.
I love the importance attributed to listing, ranking, and of course, manliness. Real men make lists.
It’s very Lord of the Flies, yes?
Hey, if it gets you to read, more power to you, manly men of American book clubs!
What do you think? Is reading for girly men? Are book clubs outdated?