I grew up with historical romance novels*, and then read a ton of Harlequin Silhouette romance novels in college**. After graduating and becoming “an adult,” I started reading “real” books***, and saw no need to ever read a romance novel again. They were mindless brain candy, and I was more mature than that.
Apparently I’ve regressed.
I can’t remember why, or how, I started reading romances again—too many YA dystopian novels? too much violence against women in Game of Thrones****?—but I found an escape that felt good and hadn’t realized that I had missed.
Still, I felt embarrassed to be seen reading romance novels, regardless of how well-written they were (or even if their covers did NOT scream romance) because, well, they’re romances. Chick lit. Silly fantasies. Definitely not something that an educated, intelligent person should read*****.
Then I came across this post by fellow author Alex Kourvo, and I began to rethink some things:
Maybe it’s okay to read something that makes you hopeful, that makes the world seem a little brighter, and that brings a smile to your face. And what’s wrong with a happy ending? After all, Much Ado About Nothing is a classic, and as Nora Roberts points out, everybody ends up happy.
If you haven’t read a romance novel, give one a try. I recommend Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen for those who want a “real” book (it’s a classic for a reason), but who also want to dip their toes in the romance genre******.
Looking for more suggestions? I’ll give my romance recommendations in an upcoming post.
Are you a romance reader, or a romance avoider? Let me know in the comments.
*Like Kathleen Woodiwiss (A Rose in Winter was my favorite book in high school and Ashes in the Wind formed my understanding of the American Civil War.)
**Instead of the gigantic chocolate chip cookies they sold at the campus store, I would reward myself with “just a chapter” from a Harelequin Silhouette romance novel. Which usually turned into two chapters, then three (they were so short!), until I had finished the novel and found myself having to finish my term paper at 1 am.
***Like Sophie’s World (amazing) and Outlander (stayed up all night with that one).
****FWIW, I loved the first novel, and I enjoyed the first season of the TV series, but after awhile the violence against women just depressed me, as much as I adored Tyrion and Arya.
*****To be fair, I have read a considerable number of classics in recent years, including War and Peace and Moby Dick (both of which I enjoyed).
******For more of a paranormal mystery, give Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte a shot. But at all costs skip Wuthering Heights by a disturbed Emily Bronte (unless you’re into abusive relationships, and that’s not romance).