Reading Agency survey finds 63% of men rarely read

Men are giving up on reading books because they prefer to watch the big screen version instead, a study commissioned by the Reading Agency has revealed.

Researchers found that being too busy, not enjoying reading and preferring to spend their spare time on the internet means men read fewer books, read more slowly and are less likely to finish them than women.

The study, which was conducted by OnePoll with input from 2,000 British men and women, saw 63% of men admit they don’t read as much as they think they should. Many blamed a lack of time while a fifth said they find it difficult or don’t enjoy it.

Sue Wilkinson, c.e.o. of the Reading Agency, which commissioned the survey to mark World Book Night (23rd April), said: “We know reading is really important, so we’ve got to get more people in general, particularly men, to pick up a book.”

She continued: “It seems that men recognise the value of reading books but admit that they don’t do it as much as they might for several reasons. TV shows and films, and the internet, are competing for people’s time these days, especially that of young men, and our focus is to remind them of the pleasure that can be derived from reading a book as well. This year’s World Book Night list of 20 books was selected with these young men in mind.’’

Nearly three quarters of the men surveyed said they would opt for the film or television adaptation of a book, whereas the same percentage of women were as likely to go for the book itself. It also emerged that women are more likely to have bought or borrowed a book this year, with more visiting bookshops, libraries, supermarket book aisles and online retailers than men.

Almost half (46%) of the men asked are reading fewer books now than they did in the past; a third prefer the internet and 30% engage more with film and TV. One in five men confessed that they have pretended to have read a specific title in order to appear more intelligent. It also emerged that almost 30% of men admit that they haven’t really picked up a book since they were obliged to at school.

Wilkinson said that the focus of this year’s World Book Night, where volunteers hand out thousands of free books to reluctant readers in their communities, was to “give these books to men who aren’t reading enough and show them what they are missing”. She added: “Next year our challenge is to have inspired them to apply to be volunteer givers themselves”.

She also urged members of the public to participate in World Book Night, which will take place on April 23rd, UNESCO International Day of the Book, by signing up to be a Community Book Giver and give out at least one book to someone in their community who might benefit from it.