I just read Bob Lamm's "Reading Groups: Where Are All the Men?" for the second time, and my reaction is still, "You have got to be kidding me." I could go in a number of directions with my rant, but for the sake of brevity I'll focus in on one particular statement:
"In a better, saner world, men would look forward to Amy Tan's next novel, to the next Hollywood version of Little Women."
I'm sorry, but he did just imply that there's something wrong with the world because men don't go in droves to see the latest chick flick, or read voraciously from the Women's Lives and Relationships genre?
This seems both ridiculous and clueless to me. From what I've observed, men tend to be drawn to movies like Saving Private Ryan and books like Dune or The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. In other words, there are certain genres that men tend to gravitate to, such as adventure and science fiction. So what if those genres don't happen to be the same ones that women tend to gravitate to?
I can't help but imagine what Lamm would be like if he were working as a reader's advisor. I can picture him trying to force feed Jane Austen to the male patrons -- thinking he was making the world a better place -- when all he was really doing was frustrating readers.
I say no to Lamm's vision of a better world. I would much rather live in a world where men and women are free to read (and watch) whatever they please. Sometimes their choices are going to be different, but that's okay. In fact, I would argue that people's differences are part of what makes life interesting. We should appreciate or at least respect those differences, rather than yearn for a culture of homogenized readers.