Thinking Outside the (Book) Box – The Menfolk

My Readers’ Advisory experience is a little different in that I serve a homebound population with hardcover, Large Type, and Audiobooks. Upon intake interviews, customers are queried as to their genre interests and favourite authors. I think that that is fairly standard practice for RA. I’d like to talk about times that I took a chance and didn’t follow the safe path, with surprisingly positive results.

I often had difficulty picking appropriate titles for older men, as they seemed to be reticent about discussing their reading interests. I tried the go-to choices of Clancy and his read-alikes, but they were sent back with notes saying “no more.” One would think that guys would like war stories, espionage, but most of my customers don’t care for it. Why would they? They had lived it, seen it in person or on TV, and have no desire to revisit bloody human conflict. However, they all love legal drama – persuasion and argument, the battle of wits, clear-thinking over emotion. Hint – there seem to be few authors writing in this field, so if you know some literate lawyers, tell them it’s time to write the great Canadian novel!

I was flummoxed with what to do when the Grishams and Grippandos ran out. Desperate to fill an order one day, I threw in The Eighty- Dollar Champion, a gripping true story of a nag that became a star. Well, my customer’s wife said that he loved it, that he had trained horses in his youth, that it brought it all back to him, and he had been entranced.

Reliving experiences! I started thinking about common experiences that were positive and enjoyable as a touchstone for reading choices. For many men, especially those growing up in rural areas, having a dog was a great time in their lives. There are so many wonderful doggy stories and memoirs out there! And speaking of rural areas – farm stories! Expanding on that… Farley Mowat, Canadiana, adventure stories.  For the pure enjoyment of audiobook customers, there’s an amazing amount of “olde time” radio out there that’s sure to bring back dear memories of family times.

When we think of men’s reading choices, we tend to focus on the darker points of the ecclesiastical verse: a time to kill; a time to tear down. I think our older adult male readers might on occasion be better served by finding reading choices that are about a time to heal, a time to build.  Whether it be about a dog serving as a needed companion to a wayward boy, or the power of a man’s hard work in making a home, these reads are sure to satisfy.

by Marion, Library Technician

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