Men! What's the problem? Why don't they read with the zeal that women have for a good book?
There is a cliched view that the male half of our society is more interested in sport than in gentler intellectual pursuits like reading a novel.
On the other hand - on this hunch - it's women who go to the book clubs.
It turns out that the cliche is accurate, according to both robust academic research and reports from the ground in Canberra.
While the program at the upcoming Canberra Writers Festival covers a wide range of themes, it's the sessions that have a feminine theme - feminism, daughters, dating - have sold out the fastest, while those covering more masculine topics, such as fatherhood and even sport, still have plenty of tickets left.
And a look at the book clubs in Canberra reveals a female bias. Macho, they ain't.
Women are from the book club; men are, if not from Mars, then who knows where. Do they spend their spare time in the pub with their mates? Or snoozing upstairs after a hard day's work? It's a mystery.
When the Paperchain bookstore in Manuka holds its weekend book club, women dominate.
"Out of 30 people, we only had two males," said book-seller, Claire Leyton about last weekend. She is also a book reviewer with 4000 followers on Instagram.
She said that the store's literary events "are mostly attended by females".
She wondered if men felt that reading books - and talking about them (well, you know, emotions and feelings, that kind of thing) - was not "manly".
She and her colleagues at the Manuka store have noticed that women tend to buy fiction and men non-fiction.
Men clearly do read books. Universities are full of men, and academics do read - but perhaps it's reading non-fiction to a professional purpose rather than reading a novel for fun.
Some have even been known to read for fun - but not in the numbers that women do.
Perhaps, men tend to read boring stuff for self-improvement while women turn pages avidly for fun? The research is silent on the question.
The two organisers of the Canberra Book Club are men - but they are the only male members.
"It is very female orientated," said Daryl Sheppard, the man in charge (or at least the man who sets up the monthly meetings at the cafe in the National Gallery of Australia). "We have thought about it a lot."
It's not as though they choose books with the stereotypical feminine appeal. "We aren't going down the Mills and Boon route," the top man said.
They choose each book with a random number generator on a phone. They have a list of a 1000 books, each with a number. If the book's number comes up, they read it and discuss it.
He wonders if it's because of an image of book clubs from the movies.
And it's true, films about book clubs do tend to be romantic comedies featuring strong female casts and plot lines. (The New York Times called The Jane Austen Book Club a " formulaic, feel-good chick flick". Book Club is about four women who read Fifty Shades of Grey and, accordingly, reflect on relationships).
But can a few films have had such an impact on habits?
Attitudes to reading seem ingrained. In 2017, Macquarie University completed a four year study of the reading habits of Australians.
The results are fascinating. More than 60 per cent of "frequent readers" were women. Of "non-readers", three quarters were men.
Far more women (76 per cent of them in the survey) than men (67 per cent) say that "books make a contribution to my life that goes beyond cost."
And far more women (72 per cent) than men (62 per cent) say that "books make a contribution to Australian life that goes beyond their monetary value".
On every measure, women seem to value books more.
The main author of the report, Professor David Throsby, said that this attitude was mirrored across the arts. "If couples go to a play, most of the surveys indicate that the women are the motivator and the men go along to accompany their partners."
But he (like everybody else) can't explain it: "It's such an observable phenomenon but it's hard to say why." By the way, there's no indication that male book phobia in Australia is any worse than elsewhere.
One organiser of a Canberra book club who didn't want to be identified beyond her first name (Lucy) said that she moved to the city eight years ago and started the club.
"I do think it's a female thing," she said. "There were no men."
It's true that the members were young non-working mothers with time in the day but she does wonder if "men don't talk about things".
Now, she still reads, including heavy Russian classics recommended by her husband - she's currently ploughing through the The Brothers Karamazov.
Apart from urging his wife to read heavy thousand pagers, he tends to listen to audio books.
Does that count as reading?
- The Canberra Writers Festival runs from August 21-25. Visit canberrawritersfestival.com.au for details.