Sunday, February 14, 2016

BW7: Be my valentine!







Happy Valentine's Day to all my bookish peeps.  Check out the History channel's what you don't know about Valentine's day, then enjoy a bit of chocolate while reading all about romance, brought to you by Karen, our 52 Books queen of romance.  I've already added quite a few to my wishlist! 

Jeff Nebeker 

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Due to my great fondness for romances, I've been asked to do a post on the topic.

I read voraciously and widely growing up.  Between the ages of ten and fourteen, I can remember reading:

Cherry Ames as well as The Godfather.
The Hardy Boys as well as Mary Renault.
Agatha Christie as well as Valley of the Dolls.
Georgette Heyer as well as Sherlock Holmes
The Bobbsey Twins as well as Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask.

My reading was not censored other than when my mother found me reading Sergeanne Golon's Angelique when I was eleven. She told me that I could read it at age 16.  Being the obedient child that I was (and I was!), I promptly finished it the next time I was home alone.  By fifteen, I still read widely, but I had a definite fondness for romances and had amassed a hundred plus collection of Harlequins and regency romances which my parents teasingly called Literary Junk.

That teasing is something that romance readers frequently encounter.  It's curious, but readers of other genre fiction such as mysteries, science fiction, fantasies, and suspense thrillers do not seem to encounter the same disparagement.  Romances are often accused of being poorly written, formulaic trash.  Yes, I've encountered my share of poorly written romances; however, I've also encountered books in other genres that were poorly written.  I'll agree that romances do follow a formula.  The organization Romance Writers of America defines a romance as being comprised of “a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.” 

 I'll deny that all romances are trash; as with other categories of fiction, what one reader may love, another may despise.  In spite of these and other criticisms, romance readership thrives and is responsible for some twenty percent of all adult fiction sales according to a January 2016 Publishers Weekly article.  Romances outsell each of the other genre fictions as well as Classics; only General Fiction has a larger share of the market. For some enjoyable defenses of romance as a genre, see A Spirited Defense of Romance Novels by Grace Danielson Perry, In Defense of Romance by Amanda Deadmarsh, and In Defense of Romance Novels or Imma Read What I Want by Elyse. 

Had you asked me at fifteen to describe a romance, I'd likely have answered, “A woman (usually young and innocent) meets a man (generally older, more experienced, and frequently a nobleman, sheik, or successful businessman); complications ensue; they fall in love and live happily ever after.” It's that triumph of love and that happily ever after that keeps me reading romance; in a world with dark places, I'll take all the love and happiness I can find.  

I like what romance author Courtney Milan says, “I love romance novels because they are about big things and small things: about politics and life and cancer and war, and about home and hearth and making a perfect cookie, sometimes in the same book. They’re a reminder that not everything important is front page news—and, in fact, some of the most important things are details. They’re about the importance of building community.”

My concept of a romance has broadened considerably since I was fifteen.  The main characters do still meet, complications do still ensue, and they do still fall in love; they might live happily ever after or happily for now.  A big difference is that the main characters might include:



The above list includes many of my personal favorites.  If you're looking for a romance recommendation, let me know.  And happy Valentine's Day!



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1 comment:

  1. Joseph McBee (It's Not What You Sell It's What You Stand For) https://pageseclectic.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/week-7-its-not-what-you-sell-its-what-you-stand-for-by-roy-m-spencer-jr/

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