Men fear ‘girls’ beds’ and read far fewer books by female authors, says women’s award judge

When asked if a women-only award was still needed, Sieghart said, “The more awards the better because authors need attention and so many great books are published without get the attention they deserve.

“And yes, it’s true that we no longer have Booker shortlists that are 100% male, which is why the award was created in the first place, and thank goodness for that.

“But we still have a situation where women read about 50-50 books from men and women, but for men the ratio is about 80-20. They will read four books from men for one book from women. The numbers come from Nielsen, which provides book purchase data.

“Novels of women intended for all humanity”

Sieghart said, “I wish men would broaden their horizons. With this short list, we can say to men: here are six utterly brilliant novels that you will like as much as we do.

“Obviously, [this doesn’t apply to] all men. But they have this weird idea that if it’s written by a woman, it won’t be for them. I think novels written by women are for all of humanity.

“Men could learn a lot by broadening their horizons. They will enjoy their reading more.

She cited David Nicholls’ One Day, the 2009 bestseller charting a relationship spanning two decades. It has sold over five million copies.

“Look at One Day by David Nicholls,” she said. “I hate the term ‘chick-lit’ but if you’re going to label women’s books ‘chick-lit’ then One Day is as much ‘chick-lit’ as anything.

“It’s a book about relationships, which would be called ‘women’s fiction’ if the author were a woman. But it wasn’t labeled that way, and a lot of men read it.

“Chick-lit is an insult”

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