Books for Boys

I have seen this topic discussed in several posts recently so I thought I’d blog about it. Honey of Coffeespoons talked about how girls like fiction while boys like non-fiction in her post here.

Charlotte of Charlotte’s Library talked about how the sci fi and fantasy genres are male-dominated while YA has more females:

A gender imbalance exists in science fiction and fantasy – male authors get anthologized more, get more awards, and get picked for lists more. In composing a response to that post, it struck me that there exists the opposite gender imbalance (men getting noticeably less attention) in the genre I care most about – middle grade and YA fantasy and science fiction. I see it in my own reviewing – out of the last twenty books I reviewed, only three have been by men.

Leah Cypess, author of Mistwood, talked about the same topic in post at The Enchanted Inkpot.

A few weeks ago I was in a Barnes & Nobles signing stock, and I passed by two sections shelved side by side. The first, the science-fiction & fantasy section, was populated by a group of guys sitting on the floor reading. In the second, the YA section, a couple of girls were discussing the books on display.

One anecdote does not a pattern make, but I’ve seen many people make these observations in chats and posts: that the YA section seems to be in danger of becoming a guy-free zone. But is it really? And if so, what does it mean, and what (if anything) should be done about it?

She then came up with a List of Boy Books over here. I decided to blog about this because I’ve been wondering the same thing. I’ve noticed that most of the YA books that I read have strong female protagonists written by female authors. But I always thought that that’s just because I choose those kinds of books because that’s what I like. It’s just now that I’m starting to realize that yes, YA tends to be female-oriented. Whenever guy friends ask for recommendations, I have to pause and rack my brains for books that I think would appeal to them. I’ve also noticed that most book bloggers are female. Come to think of it, I have more female friends who like to read than male friends.

I’ve never really given this topic much thought before because even though I’m into warrior women, I’ve read and liked several boy books as well. Looking at my list of favorites, there are several YA books there that have male protagonists: the Queen’s Thief series, the Bartimaeus Trilogy, the Harry Potter books, the Lion Hunters series and Ender’s Game. So I’m not really worried about the genre. I’m sure there are a lot of excellent books out there featuring boys, I just don’t go out of my way to look for them.

So, any thoughts on this? What are some of your favorite boy books?

21 thoughts on “Books for Boys

  1. I never really think of girl vs boy books when I am picking out titles. I just go with whatever is intriguing. I am a huge Harry Potter fan, but overall I guess I have more girly books.

    • I don’t either! I just started to pay attention when I saw several people talking about it. In general though, I really like strong female protagonists (usually warrior women) so that’s what I go look for when browsing books.

  2. I would consider Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons to be a boy book (although it’s straight Sci-Fi and not YA) and it’s possibly two of the best books I’ve ever read.

    I am going to say that I think I read more “boy” books than “girl” books. My husband said that I do too. I think non-fiction is something that I’ve only become interested in within the last year or so.

    I actually think if you are looking to try some boy books you should try The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. It’s pretty similar to Magic Bites except Harry Dresden is a wizard and there’s more funny in it. I think you might like it.

    • More books to add to my wishlist! I’ll take note of those although I don’t really read a lot of sci fi. I know you’ve read and loved both Ender’s Game and The Speaker of the Dead but have you ever read Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan books? Those are the only sci fi books that I’ve given a try.

      Really, Carin? I know I read more girl books that boy books but I know that that’s just a personal preference. I like having a bit of romance in my books. ♥

      The Dresden Files series has been recommended several times but I’m hesitant to start on that one because I know there are already 11 books in the series, right? So many already! But I’ll keep that in mind when I’m looking for more urban fantasy. Next up on my TBR are the Mercy Thompson books.

      • Hmm…you should take a look at my list of what I’ve read this year and tell me if you think I read girl or boy books. My husband says they are boy books for the most part. I’m not a huge fan of romance, but you already know that! LOL! I am going to give your romance books a try though! I have them on my TBR shelf on Shelfari so I will get to them for sure!

        Hyperion is VERY science fiction, but it is absolutely fantastic.

        I have read Lois McMaster Bujold but she is on my list of authors I need to read. We’ll see when I actually get to it though! I have so many books to read!

        Just keep The Dresden Files in mind. I really like them (although I’ve only read the first).

      • I haven’t seen your list but I do think you mostly read boy books. LOL, I’m not even a real romance reader! I mean I don’t read a lot of romance, I only enjoy the ones that have a lot of humor like Julie James and Jennifer Crusie. πŸ™‚ Aside from that, I enjoy the romance aspects of the books that I do read. For some reason, there’s usually a love story within YA or fantasy books.

        I hope you get to try Bujold! I’ve only read Young Miles, which contains the first two books about Miles but I have the rest of the Vorkosigan Saga books although I don’t know when I’ll get to read them. I echo your statement: I have so many books to read!

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  4. Nice observation. I do agree on that chachic “gender imbalance” but I like YA. I also don’t mind if its’ a boy or girl book as long as its intriguing, critic, and award winning like My Story: “A Child Called it”, “The Lost Boy”, “A Man Named Dave” by Dave J. Pelzer also “Wheel of Time” by Robert Jordan.

  5. Interesting topic, and one that I don’t think about much. I think another great YA series for both boys and girls is The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness. The first book, The Knife of Never Letting Go starts out with Todd as the main character. Later in the book a female viewpoint is introduced. The rest of the books in the series alternate viewpoints. My hubby never reads anymore and he devoured this series. I’d recommend it to almost any guy who likes to read on occasion or all the time.

    The Hunger Games trilogy is another good rec. My younger brother loves the series, and because of his dyslexia/learning disabilities he’s never been a reader, and there’s not much I’d even recommend to him.

    • I’ve heard so many good things about The Chaos Walking trilogy. Certain members of my Goodreads group gush about the whole series but I don’t know if it’s my kind of thing. I don’t really read a lot of dystopian books and the only series that I loved under that genre was The Hunger Games trilogy. But I have a feeling it IS a good series for guys.

      I’ve also recommended The Hunger Games trilogy to several guy friends. Oh I think it’s great that your brother loves the series! Whenever people say that they’re not into reading, I always say that I think it’s just a matter of finding the right books for you.

  6. books for boys? books for girls? i think books are books, and books are for everyone. but then, i’m willing to read anything. and if i like it, i don’t really care if it were intended for boys or girls.

    though, i do agree that sci-fi and fantasy books are generally geared towards a male audience, but i have a lot of friends who are girls, and who are very much fans of sci-fi and fantasy books.

    as for young adult books, there’s still a few sub-classifications there. you have the general young adult that appeals to boys (like, for example, carl hiaasen books), and then you have chic-lit. guys are very wary of chic-lit books because of the societal stigma that you’re gay for liking books like that. but if it’s well-written, what’s wrong with liking it, right?

    i like quite a number of chic-lit books: the mediator series, the 1-800 series, but those have touches of fantasy. i’m not ashamed to admit that i liked the early princess diaries books as well.

    and we mustn’t forget that even young adult books have a sci-fi/fantasy sub-classification, where you can find artemis fowl, alex rider, the dreamhouse kings, etc. not to mention the more popular (more classic?) series of YA books like: harry potter, his dark materials, the dark is rising, etc.

    to conclude, i don’t think we should subject books to gender classification. let people like what they want to like. and let people think what they like to think.


    • I agree on all points! Again, I never really thought of it until people started talking about boy books. I agree though that classifications shouldn’t limit your reading choices. I know this has been discussed countless times because there are still people out there who look down on YA books when there are so many well-written ones out there.

      It’s good that you’re willing to read books outside of your comfort zone and that you ended up liking them! πŸ™‚ I know that most guys wouldn’t want to read chick lit or romances because they think those are girly books so it’s always interesting to learn that some guys do read those books. Maybe you should review them on your blog?

      • I think Harry Potter made a lot of people look at YA under a different light. Until HP stopped being YA, and then Twilight came. haha.

        and I pretty much review everything over at my blog. except I haven’t read any chic-lit books lately. =)

      • Yeah, Harry Potter had a huge impact on YA and I’m glad because the genre just keeps on getting bigger. I’m amazed at the number of good YA books out there. I wish those were available when I was a teenager. LOL.

        The only chick lit books that I really enjoy reading are the ones by Julie James and Jennifer Crusie. Look them up if you feel like reading chick lit again. πŸ™‚

      • is Jennifer Crusie considered chic-lit? I’ve always thought she fell under General Fiction-Romance. I’ve read a couple of her books, I think. One for sure. My sister has a whole wall full of romance books: Jude Deveraux, Jennifer Crusie, Catherine Coulter, Kristin Hannah… everyone in the romance world is there. haha

      • I don’t actually recognize the difference between chick lit and contemporary romance so I classify Jennifer Crusie in both. Did you enjoy reading her books? They’re hilarious. You should try Julie James then. She only has three books out and all of then are fun, light reads.

      • haha, I think I’m the only one who distinguishes from chic-lit ang general fiction-romance. the books i classify as the latter are more mature in content. =)

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