Boy Books/Girl Books

Here’s an interesting question: Is Uglies a “girl book”?

Well, okay, if you put it that way, it’s a stupid question. It’s just a book, and it has as much supposedly “boy stuff” (things exploding, hoverboard chases, science fiction) as it does supposedly “girl stuff” (relationships, plastic surgery, things not exploding).

So the first thing I’ll say is, I’d hate for this post to suggest to anyone that these books aren’t for them. I write for everyone. (Except for boring people.) And I’d especially hate to suggest to any male readers that reading Uglies will “un-man” them. (Snorts derisively.) But it’s still a really interesting question about how readers see themselves, especially teens.

For example, I’ve seen the following in email and comments over the past few months:

A) Girls saying that they couldn’t get male friends to read the series.
B) Boys wondering if they’ll get hassled for carrying the books around.
C) And people of all genders saying the whole question is silly, of course.

It hasn’t been a huge thing. Most people who post here are pretty much into discussing the characters, themes, and imagery—which is as it should be. And no one seems to worry about Peeps, Midnighters, or So Yesterday. But there’s been just enough gender questions about Uglies to make me curious, and I’d like to hear from you guys. Because you’re all really, really smart.

So please answer whichever of these questions feel relevant to you:

1) When you suggest Uglies to friends, is it easier to get girls interested?
2) Do boys ever go “Nah, that’s girly!” if you suggest the books to them?
3) If so, do you think it’s the covers? The beauty themes? The titles?

And some other questions:
4) Do you think that girls read more than boys in general?
5) Do any of you boys feel weird talking about/carrying/liking Uglies?
6) Have I made you paranoid just by bringing this up?

Of course, my ulterior motive for doing this research is my next book, which is called:

Hah! Just kidding. But I had you going there, didn’t I?

Yes, I did.

131 thoughts on “Boy Books/Girl Books

  1. oh and the supposedly new book you are writing seemed kinda interesting……..i actually thought you were writing it……….

  2. 1) When you suggest Uglies to friends, is it easier to get girls interested? More girls I know read than boys, so I’m not a good “control” crowd.

    2) Do boys ever go “Nah, that’s girly!” if you suggest the books to them? No, more like “READ?! What’s that?” (Not to suggest that men are less intelligent than women.)

    3) If so, do you think it’s the covers? The beauty themes? The titles? I wouldn’t say that any of your books are single-sexed. I mean, who judges books by their covers? Plus, while I relate more to a female point of view–being one myself–it’s sometimes more sensible to be in a male p.o.v. for a novel or two. Just because Tally is the main character in Uglies doesn’t make the book any more or less “girly.” What about a tom-boyish girl protagonist? Does that make the book too girly for boys and too boyish for frilly girls?

    4) Do you think that girls read more than boys in general? At my age, I feel like girls do. And the boys that I know that do read constantly do it in the privacy of their bedrooms/living rooms, not in the cafe of our school, or in class. I’m looking forward to boys discovering books, because in all honestly, that is something I–a strange book obsessed woman–am attracted to.

    Five and Six do not apply to me.

  3. 1) When you suggest Uglies to friends, is it easier to get girls interested?
    ~Yes. Guys look at it, but they don’t really go, OOH, I HAVE TO READ THIS.

    2) Do boys ever go “Nah, that’s girly!” if you suggest the books to them? ~No, they just look at it like “it’s not their type.

    3) If so, do you think it’s the covers? The beauty themes? The titles?
    ~They probably don’t because I have a whole lot of girls reading it, and they probably assume that it’s chick lit.

    4) Do you think that girls read more than boys in general?
    ~Actually, yes. I see a whole lot more girls with their noses in books, chick lit, sci-fi, or otherwise.

    I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal, because I read anything. Boy or girl books.

  4. Trust me Scott, if it was a girl book, I would never have given it a second glance. Something about books with girls who aren’t starting fights or taking over the world or something equally interesting just makes me want to puke. And I have lots of friends who are guys, and it’s next to impossible to get them to read anything. They prefer to jump off cliffs, drive things into lakes, shoot each other with paintballs, etc. Not that I’m not in on most of it too, but I also know how to read. Oh, by the way, congratulations on your new book (joking lol).

  5. Sad but true, for most kids, there are “boy” books and “girl” books. There are quite a few kids who don’t care, who pay more attention to story and themes than the sex of the main character. Girls do seem to cross over more and Rebecca’s analogy with pants and skirts is excellent. But for many of my students, it makes a difference.
    I suggest _Uglies_ to everyone because I’m fanatical, but because I am a female school librarian I get more skepticism from my guys. The girls grab it up and it circulates under the radar. With the boys I have to give descriptions of hoverboards and parachute jackets, hiding from the authorities and jumping off buildings. And, yes, exploding things.
    Once they are in, they are in, though, wherever they want to read. Nerd boys, sports boys, prep boys, whatever. And several boys I hooked with the disgusting parts of _Peeps_ , so all I have to do is say, “Well, Scott also wrote…”

  6. The Uglies trilogy is definately unisex books, however, Pretties is kinda a girlie title. I suggest the trilogy to anybody interested in reading.

    By the way Scott, why do you consider plastic surgery a girlie thing?

  7. I had two sort of revelations today, I’d thought I’d share…

    1. There are tons of books a boy wouldn’t be caught dead reading, but there’s barely any that even if they appeal to more males that someone would think was strange if a girl was reading…

    2. This doesn’t have to do w/ the gender difference, but I thought I’d let you know… I could catergorize my reading into two categories… disposable and nondisposable (plus books for school…) Disposable books I just read to have something to read… I may enjoy them, but I never read them again or give them much thought after I’m done… The others are books I’ll reread, discuss with friends, or even go to the author’s blog to post comments… haha

  8. 1.its much easier to get girls interested in uglies, but that again i don’t know many guys who read anything.

    2.i know guys who’ve given them weird looks. they don’t understand the whole ugly, but how she looks pretty thing. in confuses there poor little heads.

    3.i think its the cover. many guys (especially in my town) are homophobic, so anything girly is a no-no my experience girls read more. most guys that i see that read are anti-social, while the girls are from both sides of the social pool

    and that whole ballerina fairy things looks really good.
    thats totally something i would pick up at a bookstore

    i hate the idea of men and women being different.
    i really don’t think theres anything different (minus physicalness!)
    its just society who says were different.
    you can see gender lines fading in many places too!
    (p.s. i wrote an essay on this, and i talked about books! oh yeah!!!)

  9. For the most part, yes, it is easier to get girls interested in Uglies than boys. However, I think this has to more to with the fact that the girls I know read a lot more than the boys, and in very different genres. The boys get really caught up in seeming cool and smart, or cool and urban. They’re either reading Catcher in the Rye and On The Road, or the biographies of rappers and sports stars. Girls (at least the girls I spend time with) tend to be more open to different kids of books, and read a little bit of everything.

  10. To be completely honest. The majority of my friends are boys and I’ve never had a single one of them call anything about me ‘girly’. You know why? Because they know that calling something ‘girly’ is a unfair generalzation. For example saying all pretties are bubbleheads is not technically true because Tally was able to unbubble (I love that word) herself while she was still a ‘pretty’. There are always different cirumstances and not everyone fits with ‘the majority’ thats just called humanity. This goes back to the time-old lecture that everyone is different and no matter how incredabley cheesey it may sound it’s true, every single molocuel inside of you is somehow unique, just like snowflakes (which acctually ties in with an interesting big bang theory but, thats a bit off topic now isn’t it?). The books I recomend to my friends are books that I found exceptional and unique and I have recommened every Scott Westerfeild book I could get my hands on to every friend I have, both male and female (but, mostly male because the some of females at my school have decided to rename me as ‘that gothic bookworm’ which of course automaically trigures a historical fact in my mind that Goths were a Germanic tribe who conconquered Rome and I naturally had to lecture them about it…off topic again, sorry). Well, my point is that none of Scott’s books are gender specific unless ‘teens’ are a gender all there own (which is acctually debatable in my opinion).

  11. i love how u use the word BUBBLE a lot in your books.


    thats just such a fun word to says



  12. 1.) So far, I’ve only advertized (offline) to two boys—one of which has read and enjoyed Uglies very much. The other is my cousin, who I assume will be reading it soon. Thus, I can’t say whether it is easier to advertize to males or females.
    2.) See above question.
    3.) See #4.
    4.) Our society is definately structured so that reading is considered “girly”—my school’s Book Discussion Club and the Faculty Book Discussion Club are composed almost entirely of female readers. Reading is unfortunately widely considered to be a “feminine” or “geeky” activity. *shakes head in dismay*

    When novels were gaining in popularity in the 1700s, readers were mostly women because they stayed at home to work—and men simply didn’t have time to read when there were logs to be hewn and money to be made. Perhaps, hundreds of years later, we still have this outdated mindset that reading is a feminine activity.
    5.) N/A.
    6.) N/A.

    I remember once my librarian lauded a male author as being exceedingly creative by writing from a female character’s point of view, when authors have been doing this for centuries. However, I do recall that my librarian never said anything about female authors who write from male characters’ points of view—which has also been done for centuries.

  13. hmm. scott have you ever considered changing the theme of the blog? I was just wondering because you’re using the default theme.

    I haven’t advertised Pretties or Uglies or Ppecials to any boys, though I have to lots of girls, and there was a fairly long waiting list for people to read Pretties when I bought it, and also right now there is a fairly long waiting list for people to read Specials because I bought it. I do really think that my friends will have to keep Specials over the summer to read it.

    We did literature circles at school and I don’t think there were any boys in the Uglies group, actually. Boys don’t like to read as much as girls, do they?

    bubblebubblebubble. I used to be obsessed with bubbles. heh.

  14. I see most of the answers to number four, ‘Do you think that girls read more than boys in general?’

    I guess this is true, but I don’t see really anyone reading at my school. Except a few, but they are reading manga, something I’ve not ventured into yet.

    I guess girls do read more, and male readers are fewer. But at school, I’m most commonly known as ‘the guy who reads a lot’.

    I am starting a book club next year at school. I guess I’ll know then. It’d be kinda awkward if I’m the only guy in there…

  15. Hey, guys. Thanks for all your great feedback. (And for telling your friends, male and female, about my books.)

    Sorry I haven’t been speaking up much in this thread, or answering a lot of email, but we’re moving from Sydney to NYC on Monday! 10,000 miles to travel, 5,000 books to pack.

    But I am reading these (and all other) comments, and your info and perspectives are making me smarter. Cheers for that.

    Bubble, bubble.

  16. P.S. There is a clear theme here that girls are interested in boys who read.
    Surely some guys can see the appeal in that, right?

  17. Scott i’m sure i speak for all of us when i say thanks for writing all the books and we forgive you for not answering our emails right away, but don’t put them off too long and forget about them.

    WHAT’S THE BIG NEWS WERE STILL WAITING………??? i’m so impatient. ;-p

  18. Hey maybe you could take an impromptu trip up to Binghamton, and do an impromptu book signing????

  19. Well, since I picked up Uglies randomly at a book fair this weekend, and since I have no friends (I just moved) I have yet to suggest the books to a large variety of people.. in fact, only two. One, my younger sister (she’s 14, I’m 17), who seemed interested, but then again, we have *almost* identical taste in books, so perhaps that shouldn’t surprise me.
    And yesterday I checked out Pretties from the library in the morning at school, and finished it during seventh period (couldn’t put it down 🙂 ), when the guy (as in a male) who sits next to me inquired about it – and this was Pretties. So I give him a minute-synopsis (something about pretty is normal and normal is ugly and they rebel in the forest) and he appeared intereted. However, he’s gay (no, I’m not making an assumption, I heard him say “I’m gay” with my own ears) so I don’t know what that implies. Anything? Maybe – hard to say. I’d be interested to hear what everyone here thinks. I’d like to point out he doesn’t appear like the stereotypical ‘gay guy.’ He’s a big broad fellow with impressive metallic ear piercings. Although his voice does have ‘the lilt’… you know what I mean. And he occasionally wears pink, but that hardly means anything, I’ve seen tons of guys wearing pink the past year or two, it seems to be somewhat ‘in.’

    I suppose I ought to make friends with more people to see what they think about books, haha.

  20. oh, yeah, and scott is totally right. I’ll have crushes on guys, but the moment I see them with a book it just escalates. “Oh my god! Not only is he cute and funny and probably a perfect life mate.. HE’S LITERATE!” It’s always such a thrill, haha. I don’t think I could ever date someone who couldn’t discuss books with me.

  21. I think the covers might be what embarasses the guys- if I were a boy I wouldn’t want to be caught dead with a book that had pictures of made-up girls on the covers. ( I love the covers, but then, I’m a GIRL.)

  22. yeh, anna is rite, i would be kinda embarresed if im caught carrying around one of those books, like i said on my last post, its the cover that matters.

  23. hmmm. this is an interesting discussion. I think that most girls read just more in general. Also, most guys think it’s lame to read at all, like if they do read a book that is not all blood and fighting then it is nerdy or something. I think that guys would really like your book, but they would have to be brave enough to get past the peer pressure and open the book first.
    This to me is just stupid, because like jane said, i love a guy who knows his books. Just keep writing scott, you know you will always have a huge girl audience and if those boys can’t ditch their pride for your amazing stories, then that’s their problem!!! humph!!!lol

  24. yeah! if guys can’t forget about their ego and read a good book, then they dont deserve to read it. ‘the princess bride’ is a GREAT book, look at the title-not a very manly sounding book is it? but people are tourchered(i can’t spell that) and people die-a good book let me tell ya…

  25. Oh, I love The Princess Bride! Such a hot, manly story 🙂 haha. and the names always made me laugh. Princess Buttercup, Prince Humperdink.. teehee. But really, there’s not a whole lot of ‘girly’ stuff in there.

  26. didn’t they make a movie out of that? If it’s the movie i’m think of then it’s a sweet movie.

    I’m a guy who knows his books any takers?

    Haha sorry already taken. (what a tease)

  27. Yeah, they did make a movie out of it – that’s actually why I read the book, I loved the movie so much, hehhehe, that’s a switch from the usual. I espcially love The Cliffs of Insanity!… or maybe just the way they say it.

    And sorry, no internet dating for me! why would I date someone who I cant even kiss? What would be the point? Haha, sorry to diasappoint y’all.

  28. or ‘Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father: prepare to die…’ i love that. good times, good times…

  29. Okay…i wouldnt say these are books for either girl or boy books, but they are definately for all ages because im only 11 and i read these books!

  30. 1) When you suggest Uglies to friends, is it easier to get girls interested?

    Yeah, probably because girls will read anything good, while guys have a hard time even deciding to pick up a book (generally).

    2) Do boys ever go “Nah, that’s girly!” if you suggest the books to them?

    Yep, all the time.

    3) If so, do you think it’s the covers? The beauty themes? The titles?

    It could be all of the above. Now at the same time, I don’t think the covers, the themes, or the titles could be anything but what they are.

    4) Do you think that girls read more than boys in general?

    Yes, definetely. Especially around high school age, guys get absorbed in sports, simply hanging out with friends, and being cool.

  31. Mabye on ‘The Pink Fairy Learns Ballet’ cover, teh machine gun should be pink, but have a fireball in the background.

  32. I have successfully converted three of my girl friends into Uglies fans. When I tried to get my friend Adam to read it he said “I could never read that”, however, my friend Zac, who’s really sensitive, told me he thinks he’d really like it.
    To answer another question, I think it is most definitely the tiles/covers that keep guys from wanting to read them- Especially the cover and title of Pretties.
    And yes, I believe the girls most certainly read more than boys in general. In Fact, I get made fun of for reading by a few of the guys at me school.

  33. Hey. Scott. I was just finishing Specials last week, (by the way, rocked) I brought it to school cause we have D.E.A.R. (Yes, I’m still in eighth grade and we have DEAR. Sad. Anyways, (Oh, by the way, I’m a 14 year old boy) when DEAR time came in Langauge i pulled out the book from under my binder and a group of kids started to laugh. I asked them why they were laughing. THey told me after class and never let me hear the end of it, one week later, still bugging me about. Calling me slurs, gay and queer because i read a book with a girl on the cover. I was and still am partially mortified. I just can’t stand some people’s ignorance. Damn them! Thanks Scott for writing some kick-ass books, specailly’ the Midnighter Sereis. Thanks. Dylan

  34. Sorry. I forgot to adress another question. Hell yeah are there more girl books then guy books in Barnes and Nobels. It’s all about sex and girls while guys like me can only get some Sci-Fi and the ocassional sports book, i HATE basketball books…except Travel Team…anways, i must go. keep on writing Scott.
    Also, Justine’s book, Magic/Madness rocked. I have the sequel in my locker at school ready to read tommorow morning. THanks for writing awesome books, including Peeps. Where can i get Rising Empires?

  35. I have two new people on my Pretties and Specials waiting list. Both are girls. In fact, in the Spring Literature Groups there are four people in the Uglies group, and all are girls.

  36. ah, the whole thing is just ridiculous. is there a rule somewhere that social mores have to make absolutely no sense? i mean, really. if i carry around a book with guns and blood and guts on the cover, i’m just a little rebellious. but if i cut all my hair off, i’m *probably* lesbian, or somehow less feminine. if a guy walks around with a book called Pretties, he’s gay, he loses masculinity points. but if he grows out his hair long, he’s just a little rebellious.

    things are just not lining up here, and it’s irritating. mores are for morons. grr.

  37. the only boys that are afraid to read books like that are ones that don’t have enough self-esteem to ignore the evil remarks.

  38. hey, not everyone can have enough self-esteem. it’s not like self-concious, shy, low self-esteem people enjoy inhibting themselves. they got enough to deal with without people belittling them for their issues.

    eveyrone these days is so pretentious, it’s driving me crazy. “i dont care what people think” — what a BIG FAT LIE. you do too! we’re human! human = social creature! if you dont care what i think, than, frankly, i’m insulted. i’d like my opinions to be listened to and respected, not ignored and blown off with a nonchalant, careless “i dont’ care.”

    well, i care what people think of me. i’m not going to lie to myself. i think about what i wear, how i appear, how i sound, what i say, how i behave. so does everyone!! it drives me absolutely nuts who so many kids try to prove their confidence and independence and indivduality with absurd claims! they dont care!??! why on earth not? i care! so now i’m the lowly, weak indivdual simply because I CARE about YOU, and i dont even know you!! yes, i care what strangers think of me!

    clearly, it’s not driving me crazy. it’s already driven me there. so lock me up.

    so yeah. if i were a guy, and i thought i’d get hassled for carrying around Pretties, i wouldn’t carry it around, i’d read it at home. so what? being hassled just to prove ‘i dont care what you think of me’ is redundant, and stupid, if you ask me.

    oh, i’m sorry it’s really late and im tired and high on caffine and gah… just an angry, confused, hormonal young adult trying to slog her way through all the stupidity of youth in to the bright clarity of adulthood that she’s beginning to suspect doesn’t even exsits…

    and plus, i’m insecure. dont be dissing with the insecure kids, man. like i said, we got enough issues already without people heaping disdain on us.

  39. I have a lot easier time convincing my girls students to read them than boys. They said that it’s the Uglies and Pretties that does it. Also, the covers. If I can get them to read the books, though, they love them.

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