Great column, Barbara! Thanks for the alert!
(I noticed one trifling typo "or men" instead of "for men," that can perhaps be fixed at some point during the column's tenure.)
Some of the attitudes you described were very familiar to me, some new (people really say those things, huh?). I'll confess that there are situations when the size of a book is a consideration: when I know I'll have a lot of time to fill and absolutely don't want to run out, like jury duty or a long plane trip (I have a Guy Gavriel Kay I'm saving for my flight to Seattle in August).
Point of view's an interesting thing. I wonder if others have shared my experience of picking up a book again after a lapse of some years, and discovering that I remembered it being in first person when it was in third, or vice versa.
"Identifying" is something that sometimes comes up when I teach music literature ("Oh, I can't identify with stuff like that" someone might say). My approach to the notion is to urge them to try -- to think of identification not in a complacent but an exploratory way (like an actor's task, and as musical performers they're faced with the same thing): WHAT IF my life were like that, WHAT IF I had to go through those experiences, WHAT IF I lived then, and so on. As I propose it to them, identification can be a way of stretching beyond what one has already experienced, rather than smugly staying within it.