The novel that means most to men is about indifference, alienation and lack of emotional responses. That which means most to women is about deeply held feelings, a struggle to overcome circumstances and passion, research by the University of London has found.
Men’s reading choices tend to identify themselves with novels that include intellectual struggle. Personal vulnerability is represented as a more or less angst-ridden struggle against convention, a sense of isolation from social normality.
Part of the reason for this, we decided, was that, to a far larger degree than women, men’s formative reading was done between the ages of 12 and 20 – indeed, specifically around the ages of 15 and 16. For men, fiction was a rite of passage into manhood during painful adolescence.