Cognitive psychologists with their innatist views tell us that women work with a finer mesh of emotional understanding than men. The novel - by that view the most feminine of forms - answers to their biologically ordained skills. From other rooms in the teeming mansion of the social sciences, there are others who insist that it is all down to conditioning. But perhaps the causes are less interesting than the facts themselves. Reading groups, readings, breakdowns of book sales all tell the same story: when women stop reading, the novel will be dead.
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