Language Log has a post on a piece by Eric Weiner in the New York Times, Why Women Read More Than Men, which cites an experiment conducted by Ian McEwan: McEwan and his son went out into a local park at lunchtime offering people free novels, within minutes they'd given away 30 -- all but one to women. Men gave them strange looks. Conclusion: If women stop reading the novel will be dead.
Weiner cited statistics showing that women read more fiction than men, then rashly went on to account for it by appealing to neuroscience. (Women engage more readily with fiction because their brains are wired to make them more empathetic, more attuned to feelings...) Since Language Log has been waging war for many, many posts on dodgy neuroscience as evidence for gender differences, he was asking for trouble; needless to say, he got it.
It's rare that I think I have anything to add to Mark Liberman's trenchant remarks on this subject, but in this case I was struck by the peculiar idea that the novel was the only medium through which one might engage with fiction. Apart from film, a fairly obvious example, there's a form which seems to have addicted generations of boys (readers of pp may remember Lawrence Power's great guest post on computer games, here). In the heat of the moment I dashed off a long e-mail, and you can now read it, along with Mark Liberman's trenchant comments, here.