What Do Men Read?

Men don’t read parenting blogs. We don’t read What To Expect When You’re Expecting and we don’t, if surveys are to be believed, read literary fiction at rates comparable to women. And yet men provide comfortably more than half of our literary fiction writers and we are roughly half of America’s parents. Are we destroying the fatherhood?

Before I land myself in the middle of the gender wars (think “Mad Max 3” with me caught between Tina Turner and Mel Gibson), I want to move away from speculation and into my own experience. First of all, just FYI, I read a lot of literary fiction. Second, I think that our priorities are different, and that we fathers usually do not consider ourselves primary caregivers. But our lack of interest in “How-to” or “How it’s going” writing doesn’t simply suggest that for us fathering means be-get and be-gone.

I suspect I am not alone in daddy circles in reading articles that my friends and colleagues write–including, for me, enjoying the collected parenting escapades of Jordana Horn, Sarah Wildman and Lenore Skenazy. But, in the same way that Donald Trump doesn’ read “Entrepreneurship for Dummies” and I don’t read “How To Edit Arts Features” for our primary occupations, I don’t feel that other people’s parenting experience, on the whole, applies to my specific context and particular kids.

And it’s a question of priorities. Unfair or not, society’s still skewed towards men earning and women bringing up children. If I can work a little harder to pay for my children’s education, I would do that, not read a parenting book. If I have some time to myself, I’d rather read fiction or play on the computer, and if I’m with my kids, I’d rather spend it talking to them, than spend it reading about someone else’s kids.

Dan FriedmanDan Friedman is the award-winning arts and culture editor for the Forward. He has written for the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal and Da Ali G Show and he is currently writing a book about Tears for Fears.

The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. Comments are moderated, so use your inside voices, keep your hands to yourself, and no, we're not interested in herbal supplements.

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