On my journey to find out why men aren’t a large romance reading audience, I decided to interview Mick Young. Both of us are students in a Master of Arts program for Professional Writing at New England College. I wanted to get a male’s perspective on reading choices. Mick did not disappoint.
After reading this interview, be sure to also check out his site!
1. How important is reading fiction to you?
A: Honestly, I do not put fiction high on my reading priority list. I feel like I should, but I prefer nonfiction. I do try to read at least a couple of fiction books a year. They range from mystery, spiritual, or science fiction.
2. What kinds of books do you read now?
A: I tend to have many books going at a time. I prefer nonfiction, and unfortunately, start way more books than I finish. To give you an idea of my interests here is a list of my current and past reads:
● The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
● Two Minutes for God by Rev. Peter B. Panagore
● Tremendous Trifles by G.K. Chesterton
● Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson
Recently finished and some from 2017:
- The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins
- Why There Is No God: Simple Responses to 20 Common Arguments for the Existence of God – Armin Navabi
- The Baha’i Faith: A Beginner’s Guide – Moojan Momen
- The Last Battle (Chronicles of Narnia, #7) – C.S. Lewis
- The Silver Chair (Chronicles of Narnia, #4) – C.S. Lewis
- The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Chronicles of Narnia, #3) – C.S. Lewis
- Coach Wooden and Me: Our 50-Year Friendship On and Off the Court – Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- For One More Day – Mitch Albom
- Fighting God: An Atheist Manifesto for a Religious World – David Silverman
3. How many books do you normally read (x-amount of books per week/month/year)?
A: I do not read a ton of books per year. I like to try to hold myself to 10 free reads per year. I do spend a large amount of time reading information online. A little research, too.
4. What prompts you to buy/read a certain book? Is it the author? Recommendations from
friends? Book back-cover blurb? Promotion?
A: Usually, I have seen a work in magazines I subscribe to, online sources such as social media, blogs, etc., favorite author, or similar author and work. I have found that I do not really enjoy most, if any, of the book recommendations I receive from friends, family, or co-workers.
5. Have you ever read a romance novel or a book with romantic elements?
6. If you have not, why? If you have, what did you think?
A: I never had the interest to. My grandmother was an avid reader, and she had a large
collection of romance novels such as Harlequins. My mother likes romance novels, too.
However, I never really found them that appealing. I do not believe my lack of interest is
due to the works being romance. I think it’s the fiction aspect. I struggle to enjoy fiction.
7. Have you ever been to a book conference like the Book Expo in New York?
8. If so, what did you like about it?
A: No answer.
9. If not, why haven’t you gone to one? Would you be interested in going to a conference, particularly a romance-reader conference?
A: I never really thought about going to one. I don’t know if I would be open to going to a
romance-reader conference. I don’t attend any such events for nonfiction works so I don’t
think I would attend an event for a genre I don’t currently read.
10. Why do you think a lot of men don’t read romance novels?
A: I think many men are not really into fiction all together. Regardless if the work is romance or mystery. I also believe men portray romance novels as feminine in nature, and they do not want to be viewed as less masculine by reading a genre largely enjoyed by females. I can tell you this latter point is not why I choose not to read romance novels.
I really prefer nonfiction and fiction that makes me think. In one of my discussion responses to you, I mentioned a male friend and I were discussing this topic while having lunch together. He thought maybe romance novels could be appealing to the gay community, but he preferred mystery, paranormal, nonfiction, news, and YouTube. Full disclosure, my friend is gay. He didn’t say what his husband read. He did add that he does not like to stray from those interests previously listed. I really think he may have been telling me that regardless of sexual orientation, men just have a specific type of interest when it comes to reading and consuming information. 🙂
11. What could convince you to integrate romance novels into your normal library?
A: I think this is a really tough question to answer. I have been given this one a great deal of thought. Maybe if a fiction work had a surprise romance element to it. The romance novel may seem like structured intimacy and very predictable to the male reader, therefore, he doesn’t find the genre intriguing. So if the romance aspects came in as a surprise element in the story, the male may embrace it and want to pick up a similar work or the next book in the series.
12. How do you think romance writers can aim promotions to get men’s attention?
A: This is another tough question. I think the fiction and romance aspects of the work immediately put the romance writer behind in the marketing race for the male demographic. Author association may make it hard to release a work with a surprise romance element under a different genre. For example, my grandmother’s reading interest mentioned above. One of her favorite authors was Danielle Steele. I can tell you if I saw a work by Danielle Steel in the fiction sections I frequent once and awhile, I would most likely pick it up to see what it was about, but I wouldn’t trust that the work was free of structural romance moments.
Thanks again, Mick!