Hero (Booking Through Thursday)

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You should have seen this one coming … Who is your favorite Male lead character? And why?

I don’t connect with male protagonists the way I do with female, so I can’t really come up with an absolute favorite. And this reminds me of a conversation I’ve been having with my pastor’s wife, who is a huge reader, raising a family of readers. I said that I think that girls will read boy books, but boys won’t read girl books. I was a huge fan of classic boy books like Treasure Island and Captains Courageous when I was younger, but I can’t imagine a boy my age losing himself in Anne of Green Gables or Little House on the Prairie.

What do you think?

20 thoughts on “Hero (Booking Through Thursday)”

  1. I totally agree, and without getting on my soapbox, I think it’s because in our society, anything inherently ‘male’ is perceived as ‘better,’ both by men and by women. Girls will brag about having played with ‘boy’ toys as kids, but boys will never brag about having played with dolls. Women pride themselves on being tough (like men), but men rarely boast about how sensitive (like women) they are. Women are commended for taking on ‘men’s’ jobs (lawyer, doctor, soldier) but men are still picked on for doing ‘women’s’ work (nursing, childcare, stay-at-home parenting). My sense is that it’ll be another several hundred years of slow, steady change before this approaches parity.

  2. I didn’t read boy books when I was younger-Treasure Island, Swiss Family Robinson, the Hardy Boys…I just never got around to them. Too busy in all of my girl books!!

    I connect to male characters in that I have huge crushes on some of them and wish they would come to life so I could marry them. lol So it’s a different connection from female characters (I’ve never wanted to be a man), but I could still reel off quite a few favourites!

  3. I feel the same way. I am much more connected to female characters and always have been. As a teacher, it’s hard to get boys to read books with girl characters. Junie B. Jones seems to be the exception.

  4. I think the crossover readers – boys reading girl books, girls reading boy books – are probably all in the minority. And I think the difference is mostly influence of their parents – whether their parents read, what their parents read, and whether their parents encourage or regulate what they read.

    In my day I think Nancy Drew was a good crossover series, and I think Harry Potter was pretty good at crossing over, too.


  5. Susan–great discussion! Here’s a link for people to check it out.

    Eva–oh, you missed out 🙂

    BookGal–why do you think Junie B. Jones crosses over?

    Brad–same question about Nancy Drew?

    I think Harry Potter is universal–it’s not specifically for boys or girls in that it doesn’t address the unique challenges of growing up male or female. So it doesn’t surprise me that it has fans of all kinds.

  6. Love this discussion Annie –
    Actually some boys will read “girly books,” as Arnold would probably call them, if they’re willing to be made fun of, or if they read them in secret. I remember reading Nancy Drew, Little Women, Black Beauty, Heidi, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I was growing up. It was ok with my family but I would have been vilified by my male friends if they had known. Most kids take a lot of their cues about gender roles from peers after a certain age – not from their parents. That is an important character-forming activity going on through ones childhood. Furthermore parts of American culture make very narrow and rigid definitions for what is ok regarding play activities, reading matter, and other interests than do other cultures. This is an observation, not a judgment. Sometimes they don’t even realize they are doing it. I remember the father of a boy we met at the lab who insisted his child was uncoordinated, but later he admitted that his son danced all the time – the issue for his dad was that he didn’t like or excel at sports – which is the type of physical activity he would have preferred his son engage in.
    I agree with the observation that cross-over is more acceptable for girls than boys. Tomboys have found an acceptable cultural niche – maybe we can thank Harper Lee for that (?) – but sissy boys are generally objects of ridicule. Raych’s idea that that is driven by the fact that it’s a man’s world is a compelling one.

  7. The Nancy Drew books, balanced between making Nancy a genderless almost-boy doing mostly-boy stuff and a classmate, recognizably a girl, just doing regular stuff like any classmate. At least, that is how I recall the stories back in the 1960’s.

    Ted, I think parents set the tone, especially when you consider a group of kids. The amount of aggression in the gang leader’s family, any parent expressing gender-specific comments about morals, attractiveness, or lack of capacity, will certainly be expressed in their children’s behavior. I think this affects kids even after college, though bigoted attitudes usually trace back to the parent’s childhood.

  8. Brad, Although parents are, of course, influential, people who study this stuff have found that peers are, in fact, more influential with regard to certain behaviors. For example – kids can hate a food despite parents’ best example and strongest urging, but if at a table with a group of children who like it, they will eat it. A child who hears English spoken with one accent at home, but with another in their peer group will usually adopt the peer group’s accent. Kids are subject to many influences, is my point, and conformity or the lack of it is influenced by various groups. Parents are important when it comes to education, discipline, responsibility, and ways of interacting with authority however peers are observed to be more important for learning cooperation, finding the road to popularity, and creating a style of interaction among people of one’s own age. And getting back to the subject at hand – READING! – isn’t it interesting that the choice of what to read crosses boundaries among many of those categories?

  9. Ted–I was going to bring this up: “A child who hears English spoken with one accent at home, but with another in their peer group will usually adopt the peer group’s accent.”

  10. Anyhoo, we both got off topic (I feel a bit like the drunken guest at Annie’s party) but we did so enthusiastically! I appreciate having a smart and spirited discussions – thanks!

  11. Reading this post in Google Reader, my initial reaction was to think of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. I’d be willing to bet that lots of girls read both, but few boys read Nancy Drew.

    Then I read all the comments, and I want to mention a couple of observations I’ve made:

    More women read than men. It’s not bad, it’s just that we’re different. Women tend to be more introspective and like to connect with people, friends, characters. Men *tend* not to have the same need to connect, at least in the same manner that women do. Take, for example, action movies and chick flicks. Many women are up to watch an action movie, but few men can be dragged to a chick flick. Frankly, I’m grateful that men and women are different this way, because if the whole world was made up of women…let’s just say I don’t think anyone would really enjoy it. So I’m glad that there’s men who won’t *crossover*…leave the touchy feely stuff to the women. 😀

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