Tuesday, January 31, 2006

They don't make book clubs like they used to 

Reader jw sends me a comment on Katherine Kersten's column on addressing the gender gap in education. He notes this paragraph:
Edina High School's all-boys reading club, Guys Quarterly, is another experiment. "Reading is seen as a feminized thing," says teacher Tim Klobuchar, who helped start the club. "Talking about literature sounds suspiciously like talking about feelings." The book club, he says, shows a guy that books are something he can share with his buddies.

Klobuchar acknowledges that reducing the gender gap will take time. For now, though, he's glad to see boys piling into his room to discuss spy novels and the best-selling "Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything."
Freakonomics??? When I was a junior high student I was already into war books, particularly Civil War and WW2. My uncle worked at a news and magazine distributor in Dover, NH and gave me copies of any of the Ballantine Illustrated history he could find, and I read these almost as fast. Ball Four was out by the time I reached 8th grade and, along with the Godfather (which I snuck off my parents' bookcase and read in three days), that's how my reading began to expand. My reading was not feminized.

I sincerely doubt I would have been attracted to Freakonomics, and I admit surprise that Kersten reports these boys are.

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