Why I'm Not Ashamed to Read Trashy Romance Novels
It's easy to get a little embarrassed when your literati friends ask what you're currently reading... and the answer is a trashy romance novel. These books often have a stigma attached, that the audience is completely made up of crazy-cat-ladies indulging in an indiscretion. Obviously these broad generalizations don't line up with reality, so why the weird guilt? It's not necessary.
Our mission is to encourage everyone to read what they want, because reading is awesome! Everyone has different tastes, obviously. Each genre has its strengths and weaknesses, with unique tropes and cliches. By encouraging people to read what strikes their fancy, there's a better chance they'll turn into life-long readers. How many of you became bibliophiles by roaming the stacks at your local library?
Not everyone realizes that romance novels can be well-written and often crossover into other genres (fantasy, adventure, crime fiction, etc). There's often more to the story than throbbing members and heaving bosoms. It takes a seriously talented author to write a compelling love story and a non-cheesy sex scene (see the hilarious Bad Sex in Fiction Award). So when I use the term "trashy," I mean it as a term of endearment.
Recently, I finished the Nora Roberts's Guardian Trilogy (different than the Three Sisters Island Trilogy photographed above) and was describing the plot to Tom. Wizards and werewolves, magic battles and an evil goddess - I think I had him intrigued, and he was definitely surprised to learn that the Queen of Romance also wrote fantasy. Other popular series like A Song of Ice and Fire certainly know that sex sells (and have plenty of it). Roberts has mastered the romance genre, making "prolific" seem like an understatement in the amount of books she's churning out (over 200 novels). Every time I pick up one of her books, I know I won't be disappointed.
In an article by The Guardian about Nora Roberts and her influence in the transformation of the Romance genre she says, "Every book read for pleasure should be celebrated. And novels that celebrate love, commitment, relationships, making relationships work, why isn't that something to be respected?"
Romance novels are my comfort food in the book world. They're as predictable and soul warming as chicken noodle soup. You know the couple is going to get together in the end and live happily ever after, and sometimes that's the exact kind of book our heavy hearts need. The authors usually don't take themselves too seriously and that amount of self-awareness can lead to laugh-out-loud passages.
Romance novels can also be a great in-between read if you're suffering from a book hangover (when you're still stuck on the book you previously finished). They can also serve as a simultaneous read if you're in the middle of a heavy soul-wrenching novel and need something a bit lighter to read before bed. And if you're wanting something with a little more substance, you can always turn to the classics like Lady Chatterley's Lover, which has some seriously steamy scenes.
Another great thing about romance novels is their wide availability. Especially at thrift stores and libraries, you can grab a copy for little-to-no cost. They make great vacation books (the ones from thrift stores, not the library) because you don't have to worry about beating them up during travel and you can leave them behind in your Airbnb to free up some space in your luggage.
And to top it off, the genre is largely dominated by female authors who like to write about strong-willed female protagonists. So the next time you're in a reading funk, try strolling down the romance aisle to see if anything (or anyone... like Fabio) catches your eye. Try not to be bashful when admitting you're reading a book titled Ravished or Lord of Scoundrels, but do give your friends a chuckle by playing the "pick a page and look for a silly synonym for a sexual organ" game.