As I’ve said before, I came to reading romance later than many. I’ve been reading romance less than a decade, which is nothing compared to a lot of people I meet. Early on, I took much ribbing from my husband who thinks every hero is named Biff. (And let me add that over the thousands of books I’ve read, there has not been a single Biff.)
I never thought about defending the genre. Some people like to read horror, others fantasy. I think there are stereotypes for every genre, but after immersing myself in the romance community for the last 5 years, I’ve noticed that romance takes a beating regularly.
Here’s a quote from an article at GalTime that pretty much sums up what I think many people believe about romance novels (including my husband):
It seems you can’t read an article about a romance novel without the author joking about bodice ripping and Fabio. And then, of course, there are the ones that straight-out condemn books as women’s porn, with no redeemable qualities whatsoever, saying the books offer readers unrealistic fantasies about their love lives.
The article goes on to defend the genre and has an awesome interview with Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Here’s another interview with Sarah, who is one of the great champions for romance authors.
Last week on the Internet, there was another attack on romance by some guy who clearly has never read one. Many romance readers and authors were up in arms to defend our genre of choice. Shiloh Walker has a good run-down of most of the exchange. I’m not going to link to the guy’s blog because I don’t think he deserves the traffic.
Here’s the thing…I read romance. It’s my go-to hobby for relaxation. I love knowing that I can get lost in a novel, fall in love with characters, and leave with a happy ending.
I read other genres. A couple of years ago, I read The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. It’s literary fiction. It is somehow better than romance because of the genre. I loved the book. It is beautifully written and Ms. Sebold is an amazing author.
But it took forever for me to finish the book because it was so depressing. I knew there would be no happy ending. The story fascinated me, so I couldn’t give it up, but I read romances at the same time to keep from getting totally depressed.
When I read romance, I don’t expect my husband to live up to some mythic standard, any more than he would expect me to turn into a super model because he watched one on TV.
Here is author Maya Rodale’s defense of romance novels. She explains why we get so much from them and why we keep going back for more:
For me, it seems ridiculous that I should have to defend what I read and what I write. I don’t think I have it in me to be politically correct and defend the genre with the intelligent words and research that so many other people do (like Ms. Rodale, Ms. Wendell, and Ms. Walker). I’m more likely to tell someone to shut the f*ck up and mind their own business.
Life is too serious. I read because it’s fun. I write toward falling in love and a happy ending. I refuse to feel bad about that.
Do you ever feel the need to defend what you read or write?