Men have their say on favourite historical fiction authors

Last week I published the 2013 Favourite Historical Fiction Authors list which drew over 5000 people to the blog and resulted in more than 1000 Facebook shares. An awesome result!

This week I want to follow up as I did last year with the male perspective. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to discover that men have different favourites. Quite different, in fact. With a healthy does of military adventure and war, many set in medieval or Roman times.

Subtracting the men’s numbers from the overall tally gives us the women’s favourites. In both cases I’ve listed the top twenty – all authors tied for twentieth are included.

Men's Favourite HF Authors

Completing the picture: 319 men offered at least one favourite author. A total of 301 different authors were chosen as favourites.

What do you think?

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is available in paperback from Amazon (USCanada and elsewhere), and in e-book formats from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and on iTunes. Mary can also be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Historical Fiction Survey – She Says, He Says

Not surprisingly, women and men expressed different points of view in a recent survey of historical fiction readers. While 84% of participants were women, 129 men also responded, a sizeable number from which to draw conclusions.

Men and women have very different author preferences:

  • the top 5 for men are Bernard Cornwell, Ken Follett, CJ Sansom, Sharon Kay Penman and Patrick O’Brian; the top 5 for women are Sharon Kay Penman, Elizabeth Chadwick, Philippa Gregory, Diana Gabaldon and Bernard Cornwell
  • men prefer male authors; women prefer female authors

Women read more historical fiction than men:

  • 15.6% of men never read historical fiction compared with 4.5% of women
  • 45% of women report reading historical fiction at least half the time compared with 23% of men
  • men cite a preference for historical non-fiction and a lack of time as reasons to avoid historical fiction

And, there’s a wide difference in number of books read:

  • 55% of women read more than 30 books a year compared to 22% of men
  • 61% of women intend to read more than 30 books a year in future compared with only 28% of men

Genre and time period illustrate the Venus-Mars gap

  • women prefer strong female characters, the lives of significant historical figures or lesser known historical figures
  • men prefer significant historical figures, adventure stories and stories with a military angle
  • men dislike romance, women dislike military stories
  • favourite time periods for women are 13th-16th centuries and 19th century while men favour 19th and 20th century stories

Women are going digital more rapidly than men

  • women favour online sources for recommendations almost twice as much as men
  • men rely on newspapers and friends and browsing the bookstore more than women
  • men and women have switched to purchasing online in similar percentages, however women are more likely to use the library while men are more likely to buy at the bookstore
  • men are sticking with print books in much higher proportions than women

While reasons for reading HF overlap, the top reasons differ:

  • the top reason for women is to bring the past to life; men say they read historical fiction because it’s a great story

Personally, I’m surprised at the differences in digital activities and book reading habits. The survey data continues to be intriguing. As always, feedback is welcome.