Women’s books, men’s books.

There was an article on the news this morning about the domination of woman writers in the past year – E L James on the best seller chart, Hilary Mantel winning the Booker – a very interesting article, I thought.

But then the tone of article changed – to woman readers. And then was when I got angry. Because that was when the tired old stereotypes were dragged out yet again.

Women like chick-lit. Women like romance. Women like a light read. And that’s why women writers have been so popular the past year. All said with a faintly sneering, patronising undertone, as if ‘women’s books’ aren’t quite as intellectually legitimate as ‘men’s books’, but well done for reading!

I hate the way readers are divided into ‘men like action, women like romance. Men like male heroes, women like female heroines’. It’s such a pointless division!

Yes, Hilary Mantel is a woman. Her book is about a man, and is a historical and political drama. It seems to be popular with both men and women.

I’ve seen men reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

As a woman, I’ve read romance. I also read fantasy, sci-fi, crime, war and historical fiction. I don’t care if the main protagonist is man or woman, as long as they are truthful, well-written and compelling.

I know there are men out there who enjoy Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones.

I’m not denying that there are books aimed at women, and books aimed at men. But the divisions are more blurred than this report (and other reports and articles) would suggest. Plenty of women enjoy a good bloody action thriller, plenty of men enjoy witty ‘chick-lit’ – and the authors know this.

It’s time to stop this division between ‘men’s books’ and ‘women’s books’. A good book is a good book, no matter the gender of the writer, reader, or characters.

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