Outside of the comfortable and safe confines of this blogosphere, this makes me an oddity. Among my circle of acquaintance and family, I'm almost the only male I know who reads novels. Even many of my male writer friends--including one guy who is WRITING a novel--don't read novels. They might read histories or nonfiction, but not novels. No, I'm something of a freak.
My oldest son was a voracious reader as a child. We plowed our way through everything, often together. It's part of what got me interested in MG books, because there are some great books out there. We read the Harry Potter, the Lemony Snickets, Treasure Island, LOTR, Artemis Fowl, etc., etc., etc. Now he's 14, and I'm still reading MG and he's ... not.
I follow MG and YA sales pretty close, because this is the market I'm writing for. It's instructive. You'll see highly popular children's and MG books written for boys and girls. But when you start getting into YA, the boy's books just drop away. The market is dominated by romance-y type books, usually written by women. Books that might appeal to boys, like I Love You Beth Cooper, which tells the timeless story of a teenage boy trying to get laid, end up marketed as adult books because no teenage boy in his right mind would be caught dead reading a novel called I Love You Beth Cooper. (But they should--it's hilarious.)
I'm not blaming publishing for this. Of course not. You publish what people buy, and around about age 12, maybe 13, the vast majority of boys stop reading, never to start again. Girls, on the other hand, transition from MG into YA and then many of them make the leap into women's fiction. Over half of the paperbacks published in the United States are women's fiction, a descriptor that encompasses everything from bodice rippers to chick lit to erotica.
If I had a magic wand, I would invent a genre that widely appealed to boys and was acceptable to their parents (sorry, guys, no porn ... but then again, boys don't read porn either). You know, the kind of adventure that kept them engaged and actually excited boys about story-telling. Oh wait ... such a thing already exists.
It's called a video game.