I READ ROMANCE NOVELS! There, I said it. To an infinite internet audience that I will most likely never meet. But to admit this to people I know? Honestly, it is terrifying. Can you believe that whenever someone asks me what book I’m reading, 9 times out of 10 I will lie because I don’t want them to know I’m reading romance? And to say I have dedicated a blog to the genre? It’s embarrassing. Now isn’t that silly? To be afraid of judgement for something that I love doing. But alas, you can’t ignore the stigma which seems to surround this entire genre.
“I’ll read anything but romance.”
“Romance novels are porn for bored housewives.”
“The writing is terrible.”
If I had a nickel for every time a blogger sent me a comment like this, well I’d have a shit ton of nickels. Most people out there try to disassociate themselves from this genre completely. But what’s wrong with a little romance? The most common criticism I hear from people is that the writing is terrible. I have read some amazing novels in this genre, with some of the best writing I’ve ever come across in my 25 years. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons, Both Sides of Love by Kimberly Wenzler, The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski, the list goes on and on.
Another common thing I see is that people are basing this “terrible writing” off of one romance novel they read. One book. That would be like me going into the mystery section of the bookstore, picking a book at random, and basing every book in that genre on this one book. Doesn’t seem very fair, does it? I talked about this with someone at BookExpo America, and she put it so much more eloquently than I could: you shouldn’t judge a book by its genre. Believe me, just because it’s a romance doesn’t mean the writing is awful.
Visitors to my blog will often tell me that they don’t read romance, but they want me to recommend a romance novel for them. I’m happy to, but it’s not that easy people. Romance is such a varied genre, and incorporates so many other genres that it really depends on what you personally like to read. Do you prefer historical? Contemporary? Fantasy, sci-fi, war, paranormal, young adult, mystery, suspense? You might actually have to do a little research to find a plot which interests you before you pick a book at random.
Sex on the Brain
Yes, most romance novels feature sex. But guess what? Sex is actually a big part of life. You and I wouldn’t be here if our parents hadn’t gotten down and jiggy with it. But I get it, some of you don’t like reading about the more intimate and descriptive details of sex. Here’s a little secret: not all romance novels have detailed sex scenes. Just look at Pride and Prejudice. One of the greatest romance novels of all time, and not a lick of sex in the whole thing. Or any licking between Elizabeth and Darcy for that matter. There are also romance novels from this century which don’t feature any sex scenes. Again, it might take a little research, but you can definitely find them.
And now I have another little confession to make: I am an immature adult. For example, I think South Park is hilarious, and I watch The Simpsons about 5 days a week. I tell inappropriate jokes, and some of them even revolve around sex. Anything to make people laugh. I live off of people’s giggles. I probably have the maturity level of a 12-year-old, but I have been this way ever since I was 12!
However, can you believe that ever since I started this blog I have to monitor the number of sexual innuendos I might say in a given week? I can maybe get away with 1 or 2, but any more than that, and my family and friends will chastise me, “Oh Lauren, ever since you started that blog you’ve got sex on the brain.” Uh…no, I don’t. I’m not a sex addict. It’s not like I look at a banana and see a penis instead. I’m just an immature smart mouth. Again though, I’ve been that way for over a decade, before I even started reading romance novels, and this blog is not the sudden light bulb explanation for my immaturity. It’s not like people who read crime novels are constantly thinking about killing people, or the best ways to hide a body. Right?
“You know that you won’t meet a guy like in one of your books, right? That’s not how it happens.” Wait a minute! You mean I won’t fall in love with my neighbor who will also happen to be a sex god billionaire? Well shit! I might as well dedicate the rest of my life to celibacy and just give up on meeting my prince charming right now! My neighbor is a 65-year-old Vietnamese woman named Alma. I wasn’t really holding out hope there.
Yes, I am 25 and single, and someone cautioned me with that statement above. This is another one of those things which really irks me, mainly because it’s questioning my intelligence. Do you also have heart-to-hearts with Twilight fans to warn them that vampires don’t exist? Do you boycott mystery novels because they imply that bad guys will always be brought to justice? You wanna know what expectations I get when I read a romance novel? It makes me think that two people can care about each other enough where love is actually possible. That sex can be enjoyable. That a man can think you’re beautiful even if you aren’t stick-model thin. So, are you telling me that those things aren’t actually possible? That I should settle for a guy who is just into sex rather than getting to know me as a person? Because if that’s the expectation you’re trying to give me, I think I’ll stick with being single for just a little bit longer.
So what exactly am I trying to say here? That you are required to love romance novels as much as I, otherwise you’re dead to me? No. Here is what I’m trying to say. Don’t write off romance, and don’t laugh at those of us who like it. And if you do like reading romance novels, try not to feel ashamed that you do. You’re not alone. I also get if it’s not the genre for you. Hell, I don’t read thrillers because they make me nervous. But if you’re judging it just off of one romance book you read years ago, then maybe it’s time to give it another try. Not every romance novel is like 50 Shades of Grey, and Fabio doesn’t grace every cover. August is National Romance Awareness Month, so I’m here to let you know that there are some great romance books out there, and there are some great people out there who read them. Not that I’m one of them or anything. Don’t forget, I’m an immature smart mouth. But I’m proud of that fact 🙂