Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Romance "Look"

A couple of days ago I went to the bookstore to feed my addiction, and at the checkout counter I received the "look" from the woman working. Any romance reader will know the look to which I'm referring. The glance at the book cover, then the slight quirk of the lips as they take in the title, and suddenly they look at you as though your IQ just dropped 20 points for buying something they consider "smut". Somehow, I'd spontaneously become less intelligent now that I was at the front of the line than when I was in the back and no one knew what book I was buying. I'm sorry bookstore clerk, but a slightly melodramatic title and a sexy shirtless gentlemen on the cover does not a poorly-written novel make.

I find it frustrating when people quite literally judge romance novels by their covers and their genre. The "look" says "I can't believe you read this fluff" and "you must lead a sad, lonely life and have an affinity for feline companionship". Well, I do read this fluff, I'm not lonely, and I can honestly say that I'm much more of a dog person, thank you very much. Are there some romance novels out there that lack substance and favor gratuitous love scenes? Absolutely. But anyone who is a fan of the genre will tell you that those novels are not the ones that appeal to us. Novels boasting men of heightened sexual prowess wearing denim prisons bursting at the seams are nothing without a strong storyline, and love scenes are worthless without character development and interaction.


To those who assume romance novels are poorly written and only indulge in a woman's need to fantasize, I say you are correct that some will never become literary classics like Crime and Punishment or Pride and Prejudice. However, I will argue that there are equally poor mysteries, sci-fi thrillers, fantasies, and general fiction novels. Most romance novels that I'm a fan of are brilliantly thought out, engaging, and create characters that stay with me long after I've put the book down.


I'm also a fan of young adult novels. Does the fact that they're targeted to people 15-20 years my junior make them less applicable to my life? Does it make them less creative, less imaginative, and less powerful because they're aimed at a younger generation that hasn't completed their higher education? Not in the slightest. In the same vein then, just because the subject matter of a romance novel surrounds the physical relationship between two characters, it does not mean the world building, supporting characters, and storytelling are anything other than outstanding. These authors are no less educated or creative than mainstream fiction writers and should be afforded the same respect for their talent.

I'm proud to be a romance reader, how about you?

16 comments:

  1. proud romance and youg adult reader too.I admit loud and proud.

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  2. I absolutely LOVE your post! Sing it sistah! I agree with you completely and in my opinion a good book is a good book! Who cares what's on the cover or what section of the book store you found it in?!

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  3. Im loud and proud to be a romance reader!!

    What other genre do you get sub genres such as thriller, paranormal, UF, erotica, m/m threesomes, moresomes, crime, YA.

    I will forever love Romance books and poop to the silly book store people who look down their noses at us! I pimp my books wherever i go, i cant help it lol! Ive often pointed out books to people when i see them browsing =P

    I don't ever pick fault with peoples choice in reading material, each to their own, the same as i don't want MY choice taken under scrutiny thinking its less of a book because of its gorgeous pretty man donning the cover.

    Romance readers better than anyone KNOW a great book, we're in the know of many more authors because of all those sub genres attached to romance.

    so there stuck up peoples! LOL!

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  4. Heartily agree. I shouted my love loud and proud to my designer peers and lecturers (a generally very high brow sort of set) in a presentation for my studio project which is generally about kitsch and (perceived) notions of bad taste. I don't think I could have been more emphatic.

    For some reason sentimentality and love continue to be considered as trivialised and petty gratifications designed to delude us; I think only open discourse on the topic can engineer change in attitudes. Well, let's hope so.

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  5. Oh yes, the look! It happened to me and I always had to restrain myself from shouting to the sales woman exactly what degrees I had and to what university I went, lol! Maybe that's why I like shopping for ebooks so much better. :)
    So, you guessed it already: I'm a proud romance reader!
    Wonderful post. :)

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  6. I'm a proud romance reader, and I hate the look! I also hate getting the lecture from friends-why do you read those books? As if they know what's in them-my theory is, why limit yourself to just the snotty literary fiction?

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  7. excellent blog. and the saying you can't judge a book by it's cover also applies to the ones buying the book!!!

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  8. Great post!

    I'm proud to read romance and will defend my books when people judge them. I'm also not a closet reader so I don't cover up my beautiful romances.

    I often get weird glances when people see what I read, especially when it's a Harlequin Presents or a erotic romance. If they dare to start talking about "real" books compared to the "trash" I'm reading there's no stopping me. Let's just say that they don't dare to talk to me about it for a second time!

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  9. I know EXACTLY what you are talking about!! Even my boyfriend gets angry when our friends or family look down their noses at my books!! GRRRR, this bothers me so much!

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  10. I know what you mean. The Kindle has saved me from many of these looks :) I feel like Charlotte from SaTC when she goes home to order the Self-Help book online so she isn't seen buying it in the store lol.

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  11. Haha, next time this happens, I'm going to say "WHAT?! WHAT?! You got a problem? You wanna go?!" and beat my chest and generally intimiadte them. That should teach them to give "the look".

    Usually I just give them a "Yea, what of it, bitch?" Look right back. I ain't skurred or ashamed!

    I actually get more flack from reading YA novels than I do romance. I don't get it. I'm constantly defending my choice to read YA. Not so much w/ the romance though.

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  12. I am very proud to read Paranormal Romance! I have to admit, when I picked up my first book (Dark Lover, JR Ward) and discovered it was "romance" I about died. But now I proudly tell all that will listen that I love the genre. I have even showed my blog to family!!

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  13. Parnormal Romance is def something worth diving into. Don't for get to bring Kleenex to wipe off the drool that comes with such books!

    Hopping in. Loving the blog. I'm a follower now!

    Elyssa
    http://literarydaydreams.blogspot.com/
    Personal blog

    http://ikissbooks.blogspot.com/
    Group blog

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  14. I've had this same rant. I hate when people look at me like I'm foolish because I read "smut". I love "smut". It makes me happy.

    I give people that read pretentious books just for the sake of saying they read them a similar look though :)

    Thanks for stopping by my place. I'm going to add you to my blog feed :)

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