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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What sort of reader are you?

Another week, another survey... This one has been studying reading habits of 2000 people and has come up with the "news" that women know how to read properly whilst men have a desultory and, at best, casual approach to books. Apparently nearly half of women are avid readers who cannot put a book down once they start it and who get through a long list of titles in a year. Meanwhile twice as many men as women admitted that they never finished a book.

Well! As with a lot if "research" this seems like a huge generalisation and made me wonder who on earth the researchers were surveying. Take a straw poll of me and a few friends, male and female. I read lots of books a year but will put one down (probably without giving it a fair chance) if it doesn't grab me within the first few pages. One female friend of mine is exactly the same. Two others will grimly soldier on to the end even if they aren't enjoying the book. My dh isn't an avid reader but reads across a variety of genres and when he picks up a book he is usually engrossed. A male friend reads avidly, far more books a year than I do, but says life is too short to wade his way through books that aren't compelling. And so on.

What does this prove about male and female readers? Not a lot in my opinion. Far more interesting - to me at any rate - were the different types of readers that the researchers identified. When it came to these categories the gender divide apparently disappeared. First up were the "Page Turners" who devoured their books, then there were the "Slow Worms," who spend a lot of time reading and always finish a book (though of course these two things don't always go together), the "Serial Shelvers" who have a huge TBR pile and the "Double Booker" who has at least two books on their bedside table. I have to confess that I fall into both these last two categories with shelves groaning under the weight of books I haven't read yet plus several books on the go at any one time.

So what sort of reader are you? Slow Worm or Serial Shelver? Or are you in a category all your own?


Jan Jones said...

Oh dear, I'm all of those except the slow worm.

Kate Hardy said...

Oh, dear. Everything except the slow worm. As for the Double Booker... I tend to have several books on the go at once. There's my lunchtime reading (in the kitchen, usually to do with food); my office reading (usually research books, but 75% of my books are in my office so I can get distracted at any point); and the TBR pile (aka a bookcase) next to my bed...

And it looks as if my mini-me is the same (costs me a fortune in pretty notebooks to write a story - hers are scifi, as mine were at that age - and she has four books on the go, all in different places).

Mind you, so was my mum - so is it nature, nurture or a mix of the two?