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In loving praise of Hot Guys Reading Books

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On behalf of English majors everywhere, I would like to extend a warm thank you to Alli Rense, for she has taken one small step for literacy — and one giant leap for man-loving-kind—with Hot Guys Reading Books, also known as The Place Where I Just Went to Reaffirm My Faith in the Blogosphere.

Now we know that James Franco isn’t the only looker who can lose himself on Catherine and Heathcliff’s English moors for days on end. Hot Guys gives us five new reader-submitted photos a week, proof positive that every day attractive men do, in fact, enjoy books. There are countless studies on why reading is a predominantly feminine pursuit — because we’re more verbal and social creatures, perhaps, or because we have longer attention spans, maybe? In the UK, 48 percent of women are avid readers, while only 26 percent of men are so-called active “Page Turners.”

But it’s that very concept which this blog hopes to debunk, as a window onto the world of the “luscious literary man,” caught reading in his natural habitat: the New York City subway, the beach-side hammock, and heck, even under a side table. In reality, the site’s much closer to the silly end of the gorgeous-goofy continuum. I admit, and so does Rense, that not all of the men are Franco-esque in terms of their swoon quotient. But in theory, it’s a welcome clarion call to male book lovers that they make themselves known — little insider’s tip, the ladies (especially those of us who still write notes in the margins, four years out of college) love a well-read fellow.

Not every Hot Guy will be your cup or tea, and he may not be reading something highbrow or revered. But even if he’s flipping through Dennis Rodman’s autobiography or the Oxford Mini School Dictionary (yeah, that happened), there’s something about the focused gaze of a man mid-paragraph, gnawing on a pencil, that just makes me want to beeline it to the nearest public library. Especially if there’s a chance to see that Denzel Washington READ poster that made literacy look better than it ever had before. So thank you, Hot Guys Reading Books, for giving these men a virtual space where they can shine, and we can ogle.

What do you think, Shelf Lifers—were you as delighted by this blog as me? Should we celebrate these bookish guys or dismiss them as mere eye candy? And why is it that women tend to read more, and more often, than men?