I had an interesting conversation with my friend a few weeks ago about books, and seeing as it’s been niggling around in my brain for a while I thought I’d share it with all of you lovely people. It sort of revolves around the perception that people have when it comes to romance novels. As you all know, one of my favorite topics.
We were discussing how she wanted to read more books this year, and I suggested she check out Goodreads’ Reading Challenge, as you can set a goal for how many books you want to read, and track your progress. Below is the basic gist of our conversation.
Me: I’ve only just started using it this year, but I love it. I read 167 books last year, so I figured I’d set a goal of 150 this year. Seems manageable! So far I think I’ve read about 15.
Friend: Awesome, you’re right on track! I still can’t believe you read so many books. Now, how many of those 167 books were for your blog?
Me: You mean author review requests? A decent number, but I can’t remember off-hand.
Friend: No, I mean how many of them were romance novels?
Me: All of them.
Friend: (Pause) I’m sure you can read those a lot faster than regular books.
I must say it was fascinating to see her look of approval change to one of skepticism so damn quickly! Now, I love my friend to pieces, and she’s always been fantastically supportive of my little blog here, but I think we all know what she was getting at. There was definitely an implication that romance novels aren’t necessarily up to the same caliber as other book genres, and therefore it’s not surprising that they can be read quickly.
Personally, I think there’s a very logical explanation for why I can go through so many romance novels in a given year. They hold my interest! It’s not that they don’t challenge me. Believe me, many have had me thinking for days on end. I find it’s hard for me to put them down because I simply can’t wait to see what happens! Also, I find time to read whenever possible. In the morning before I go to work, while I’m waiting for water to boil, popcorn to pop, or the metro to arrive, 9 times out of 10 you will find a Kindle in my hand. I read during commercials when I watch TV, and will regularly stay up until 2am on weekends reading romance novels and simultaneously watching Mysteries at the Museum. God, I love that show.
All that being said, the speed at which I can read romance novels wasn’t the main thing about this conversation that sort of struck a nerve. Oh no. It was that one, simple word: regular. By comparing the romances I read to “regular books”, she was basically saying that romance novels are therefore irregular. It was almost as if my total tally of 167 books didn’t really count, because they were all romance.
Sooooo……is there some kind of going conversion rate for romance novels that I’m not aware of? Does one romance novel only count as half of a regular book? Even less? If instead I were to only read books off of the New York Times bestsellers list, would those count for double? And what if I were to throw in a few from Oprah’s book club? You don’t have to like, or even read romance novels, same as I don’t have to like reading something on the bestsellers shelf. But in my mind, a book’s a book. If you finished it, that counts as reading a book.
I know my friend meant no harm, and honestly there was absolutely no harm done. Really, I was just thinking about it the other day in the shower and thought, “Oh, that might make an interesting blog post.” I did feel like it was another example though of someone seeing romance novels as less worthy. Or maybe it was just a simple slip of the tongue. Either way, consider this my rant for the day. Let’s move on to bigger and better things. And hopefully some alpha leading men with very little clothing 😉