Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Let's Just Stop Book Shaming // Thoughts on Romance Novels

Welp. I know I've had mini rants on this topic before... but here's a longer one. And some of y'all chimed in! So make sure to scroll to the bottom and find out why (other) real-life romance readers enjoy these books. :)

image via google

Last week I wrote a post on reading romance novels for Year of Gratitude. The gist of the post is that in 2018 I "allowed" myself to read genres and books that I might have previously rolled my eyes at. Silly covers are partially to blame, of course. I didn't want to read romance novels or heavy science fiction because they looked over-the-top and therefore seemed intimidating. However, reading these books has actually taught me that there is merit in all genres, and that it's good to do what you are feeling, and not worry about what others think. It's also totally fine to read a fluffy novel: not everything we read needs to be a literary masterpiece.

Upon doing a little research on romance novels and getting pictures for my post... I stumbled across an article (I hesitate to link this... but it's so bad you guys, that I have to) that basically starts out by saying that women read romance novels because they are "STARVED" for satisfying intimacy in their real lives. My first reaction was laughter. This has got to be a joke right?! Is this site like The Onion?! No... it's real. My second reaction is absolute fury... because, really? We're going to say that a billion dollar industry thrives on the sexual frustration and loneliness of millions of women? Um, no. I'm sure that some readers fit that bill, but I am also sure that some readers are just the opposite.

There is a reason that romance novels made up 29% of fiction in 2015 (source), and make up 46% of all mass market paperbacks sold in America (source). And I'll give you a hint... it's not because women are too sex starved, or too stupid to read other books. Many women enjoy reading romance because it is fun, it is often well-written, and it gives us a lovely mental break in between other books that we read. (Especially modern women who juggle family, school, and work life, and keep up with current events who might need a break from the heavy stuff.)

Romance novels also vary wildly in their content: from proper romance to Hallmark-y romance, paranormal romance, historical romance, BDSM and everything in between there is a type of romance novel for everyone. A recent trend in present-day romance novels are "smart romances" where the characters have a lot of emotional, career, etc. depth in addition to their love stories. Young romance readers are also asking for more diversity in their romance novels. I love seeing all of the places that romance novels have gone.

In addition to "smart romances" many other romance sub genres like historical romance and paranormal romance take so much research to create. I read a novel that took place on a ship in the 1700's and I LEARNED SO MUCH! I was like a kid in a candy shop learning how a ship is run, who does what, etc. These authors know their stuff, and not just the romantic things.

Lastly, romance novels are ultra feminist. Often written for women, by women, about things that women are interested in. Topics ranging from: women's relationships, thoughts on sexuality, friendships and support, careers-life balance, going after our dreams. It's all there in so many of these books, and it has been for years. I think that's pretty powerful.

Bottom Line: Let people read what they like, and leave them alone about it. Don't base an entire reader-base's interest in a genre on their sex life or intelligence. That's just pathetic.

What Y'all Had To Say:


Helpful & Entertaining Links:

The Ripped Bodice - State of Racial Diversity in Romance Publishing Report
Nielsen - Romance Readers by the Numbers (2016)
Why Smart Women Read Romance Novels
Men, Stop Lecturing Women About Reading Romance Novels
The Changing Face of Romance Novels (Thanks for sending to me, Heather!)
Powerful Twitter Responses as To Why Romance Novels Matter to Readers 

See my Favorite Romance Novels (or romance in novels) here.

What do you think? 

Have you ever been book shamed?

Is there a genre (or genres) that you are embarrassed to read?!



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