Come On, Man: Why Men Should Read Women Authors

Men don’t make up much of the audience for women authors. That needs to change. Guys, here’s why the next book you read should be written by a woman.

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Man shrugging with a book in his hand as a woman from that book stands over him.

Men, it’s time to pick up that book with the woman author. No, it doesn’t have cooties. You aren’t going to be ridiculed by your manly friends for reading something written by a woman. And you definitely won’t spontaneously combust for touching that feminine book cover. Here are some reasons why men need to take the plunge into female-authored books.

Different Experiences

To start, women have had a different upbringing than men, and that’s something to learn more about. Thankfully, it can be as easy as reading a book. Only 19 percent of the 10 bestselling female authors’ readers were male. This creates narrow thinking for men because it doesn’t expand upon lived experiences. If the only experiences we digest are our own, it will be impossible to fully understand another person’s life, especially if they are of a different gender. Seeing the world exclusively through a male lens creates an uneven perspective of experiences that only serves to create divides between people.

Man in a library reading a book.

As men, we don’t make up the majority of the reading audience, and yet there are far more male protagonists than female protagonists. For example, in the top 100 children’s books, male characters in leading roles outnumber female characters in the same role two to one.

As a reader, I try to diversify my reading portfolio as much as possible because it’s important to absorb everything the reading hobby offers. Are you going to order the same thing at a restaurant every time? Well, that prime rib dip is too good to pass on, but that’s not my point. My point is that women authors offer a completely different perspective that men would otherwise be unable to understand. Reading is closely connected to empathy and social acuity. Reading these books that have themes and subjects that would be considered foreign helps everyone understand each other just a little bit better.

Unrelatable Relatable Topics

It isn’t surprising to imagine that women authors will write women protagonists that deal with issues that pertain only to women: pregnancy, motherhood, and puberty to name a few. As a man, I can guarantee I will never experience two of those three things firsthand. But my mother and both of my grandmothers did. My future wife (fingers crossed) will too. My hypothetical daughter as well. Because of that, I want to learn more about these experiences unique to women that I will never experience myself.

Man reading laptop looking confused.

It’s true that I won’t relate to these types of themes, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate and attempt to understand them. As I said earlier, there are women in my life, some of them not quite in my life yet, who will experience things that I will never truly understand. But reading can help me at least grab a basic understanding of these things.

No one is expecting us men to strap up to a labor simulator. However, it isn’t going to kill us to understand the problems facing women a little bit more. It’s just a book. We’ve read many of them before. The only difference is this one has a perspective that is impossible for us to otherwise understand.

Women Authors Are Just Authors

With unrelated themes having been discussed, it shouldn’t be assumed every woman author is going to write about pregnancy or motherhood or things that only women can relate to. A long time ago, I read a story that I fell in love with. It starred a large muscular man with a dark and mysterious past; it had beautifully described women, a dark and twisted plot, and enough gore to fill a horror movie set; and it took inspiration from a popular heavy metal band. I knew I had to read it, and I loved every second. Sometime later, I read it again, but this time I noticed the author’s name wasn’t a man’s name. Baffled, I turned to the internet and found out a woman had written the story.

A woman writing on a notepad sitting at a desk.

Then the pieces came together. That romantic subplot suddenly made sense. Two characters were always moments from confessing their love, but they never did, and my frustration when they never got together still has a place in my memory. Those beautifully described women were just that: beautifully described. They didn’t go down a set of stairs, bouncing boobily. They were women characters with depth that I embarrassingly fell in love with. Sure, the story had a few “feminine” themes jammed into a “manly” story, and I didn’t bat an eye because the story was that good. If anything, the book being written by a woman made me appreciate and love it even more.

Ultimately, what I’m trying to say is that women also write stories that men will love. Just because there’s a woman behind the words doesn’t mean it’s going to be unrelatable or full of themes only women will enjoy. Women can write a dark and mysterious male protagonist too. They can create twisted themes just as easily as making two characters dance around their love for each other.

And even if it is full of unrelatable themes it doesn’t devalue the story. Instead, it becomes an opportunity to learn and expand on lived experiences. Dismissing a story simply because it has a woman’s name in that author’s spot or it might discuss something unrelatable is a disservice to books and reading.

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