Reading not much of a male pursuit

Off the fence
Reading not much of a male pursuit

Off the fence

Áine Ryan

I REALLY do not mean to be sexist here. But men never cease to make me laugh.  Just watch them watching sport. Especially the ones who wouldn’t be able to kick a malteser from one end of the pitch to another.
They are always the experts. They are always the ones that shout loudest from the sidelines. They are always the guys – with the beer moustaches – who curse and condemn the most from the high-stool. It is hilarious.
I do admit that we are all armchair experts on occasions. Shortly after dawn on a recent Saturday morning I was groaning and waving my arms in exasperation at a load of lads on the other side of the world. And I barely know the basic rules of rugby.
Of course, I understand the lure of following a team, of being a fan, of having that special sense of belonging. It appeals to our primal, tribal instincts and even does make big boys cry.
Frankly, I do not want to talk about sport here at all. I actually want to talk about book clubs. (But I knew if I opened my Off the Fence about the subject, I would immediately lose any male readers.)
Why are most book clubs comprised of  women? Like, it is not as if we knit or bake fairy cakes at them.
Surely reading is – if  you did a cross-demographic survey –  even more popular a pastime than sport. Small toddlers attempt to read their first books before they can even walk. Teenagers read. Adults read. Little old ladies read.
I am a member of a book club. It was a women’s only domain until recently. Our sole male member (who shall remain anonymous for reputational reasons) appears to be among the significant minority of men who are unafraid to sit around over a dinner and a couple of glasses of wine and discuss the literary or chick-literary merits or demerits of a book.
What are you men so afraid of? I mean, many of you do read books in the privacy of your own homes.
And, to go by our club, the discussions are not only great fun, but are stimulating, challenging, thought-provoking. To share feelings, emotions about the intimate intensity of a narrative that has, in the previous weeks, engaged and communed with a group of friends is wonderful.
The book – say, Let The Great World Spin, Room, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, or Alone in Berlin, – invokes such varying reactions, observations, opinions and thus transports the reading experience to a whole new dimension   
Hmm! I wonder what caustic comment  Holden Caulfield would make on the subject of men and book clubs.  We all know what Rhett Butler would drool. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”