"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. " -Helen Keller

Monday, December 28, 2009

Coming out of the literary closet

I want to proclaim to the world that I love to read Romance novels and I'm proud of it. If you've glanced at my book list for this year, you might have guessed that already. Once upon a time, many years ago, I use to be one of those people that sneered at Romance novels. I use to think they were trash and not worth reading. Then my BFF Jennifer gave me one of the novels written by the uncrowned Queen of Romance novels, Kathleen Woodiwiss. I was hooked. The book was well written with an exciting story and a strong heroine. What more could you want?

See, even many people are under the misapprehension that Romance novel readers are un- or undereducated and focus only on the sex scenes. People are convinced that Romance readers are looking for excitement their own lives lack. People cling to the notion that Romance novels are stuck in the "Thank you for raping me" scenarios that were disturbingly common in the '80s. Those stereotypes do not describe the Romance novels or Romance readers of today. Romance readers are often highly educated, strong women and the books that fall into this genre cover the spectrum of quality just like books in any other genre.

I could go on and on trying to refute the stereotypes and myths surrounding Romance readers and books but, thanks to today's entry at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, I will just tell you to go read the piece Laura Clawson wrote over at Daily Kos. The brilliant SB Sarah quoted my favorite part of Clawson's article and I want to make sure it is read here too...
One of the key issues in judgments of the average quality of writing is that the romance genre is never allowed to claim love stories from outside the genre. Really beautifully-written, “literary” books with mystery plots or with sci-fi elements are likely to be marketed at least loosely in association with those genres. They get to have the best of both worlds—the marketing bump of the genre and the critical and social recognition due their quality. You don’t see love stories allowed to strike that balance, which severs a world of possibility from the genre, and an introduction to a new audience for at least some deserving authors.

I’m sure there are a hundred other myths to be attacked, and none will die easily. But in the end, even if they were mostly true, the disgust for romance novels and their readers would still look more like disdain for women and feminized culture than anything else.
I am truly delighted that the thing that made me really think today, the thing that had me pondering the socio-economic and political implications of a cultural phenomenon was an incredibly well-written article about Romance novels (something most of society considers fluff) and the comments that followed.

Please, please take a moment to go read the piece Laura Clawson wrote over at Daily Kos. You won't regret it and it might open your eyes to some great authors you've missed out on.

So, do y'all have any literary secrets you want to confess? There is nothing to dark to confess. Come on, spill it.


Barb said...

I think it doesn't help that some editors and distributors go for authors who are cheap and fast, not necessarily GOOD, and rush the book to market... THINKING that many women are too dumb to know the difference. And that is kinda true I think with the younger teens who start reading romance novels. So that makes people undervalue some of the writers in that genre. I know I've had my share of thinking, "How in the HECK did this get published??" But that does happen to a certain extent in other genres too. I'm sorry but some "literary" novels suck.

That's why I'm so picky about my authors.

[cre] said...

I've never been big into reading ... is that bad? :)

Happy New Year!!


Beautiful Mess said...

I love romance novels! I just love all the excitement and everything that's involved. They make me happy. Glad you like them, as well!

battynurse said...

I like romance novels too. For a long time I was really hooked on Johanna Lindsey (she hasn't had as much the last few years) and I liked the historical aspect of her books. Plus they were funny. I also love almost all Nora Roberts.

*Tanyetta* said...

I received an invitation to preview 2 books from a romance author. I chose the romance/suspense. I have to admit, I have never been a fan of romance type of novels because of the assumed barf factor but, something about this invitation made me want to give it a chance. I will keep you posted.

Anonymous said...

I really like Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele novels. My cousin tells me she loves romance novels because they are fun to read and entertaining. She doesn't want to read a book to ponder life's big questions or hear real life sad stories. (I mostly read memoirs. Alot of them are very heavy.)

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