Thursday, February 15, 2007

Booking It...

“Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.” - Amanda Cross

"I love romance. I'm a sucker for it. I love it so much. It's pathetic.” - Drew Barrymore

I have to be honest... I think I'm starting to see sneering and bias against romance everywhere and am wondering if I'm uber sensitive or it's my imagination. For instance: I give you this weeks "Booking Through Thursday" --

Booking Through Thursday

So, in honor of Valentine's Day . . .

Love stories? Yes or No?

Of course, yes, yes a million times yes! Even Dean Koontz includes romance in his novels... do you think I read "Watchers" for the genetically modified monster? Nope, I read it for the love story (well... and the dog).

If yes, "romances" as a genre? Or just, well, stories that have love stories? (Nobody's going to call "Pride & Prejudice" a "romance," right?)

Here, I have to disagree. I absolutely believe "Pride and Prejudice" was a romance. It was very definitely an exploration of the biases that occurred during the period BUT is was, IMHO, first and foremost a romance.

And, yes, romance as a genre. I have to admit that I'm not in love with most category romance, but it's a good love story that I look for when I'm choosing a book. I just prefer a strong plot to go along with it.
Was it my imagination, or was there a sneer in there?

The amazing thing is that the vast majority of people read romance (maybe not exclusively -- I read lots of stuff myself) and yet, it's some how embarrassing to admit that you like it (i.e. Nobody's going to call "Pride & Prejudice" a "romance," right?).

I have to admit that I often wonder what the librarian at the Kelley Library in Salem (where they actually have lots of paperbacks) thinks of my IQ when I plop fifty+ romances on the counter to check out. There's a stigma attached.

It's like, when I was a teenager and I bought a Neil Diamond album (it was "Love at the Greek" in case you wondered -- and, yes, it was vinyl) for my mom. I sandwiched it in between Pat Benetar and Def Leppard. I didn't want anyone thinking that I liked Neil Diamond (though, I did... shhh...)

I feel like I should add a couple of deep thinking books along with my romances. I don't, and I hold my head up when I check them out. But still, why (oh why) is it that people think only silly bubble-heads prefer to read romance?


I really should give it a rest. But every time I decide not to bemoan the fact, something shows up and slaps me across the face with its glove.


sally906 said...

I agree with you over Pride and Prejudice being a romance :)

When I was doing library training I remember one of the other students sneering at the rack of Mills & Boons - the librarian then told her that they had the highest turnover of any book in the library - and the most popular genre :)

Literary Feline said...

There's nothing wrong with enjoying a good romance novel. And I hope I didn't come across as sneering when I responded on my site. I have just found over the years that I prefer the novels that have a little something else besides. Just my personal taste. That said, if a good romance novel should come my way, I am open and interested in reading it.

I also agree that Pride and Prejudice is a romance (and one of my all-time favorite books!) A book I recently read and enjoyed, Emma, felt very much like a romance novel to me. Jane Eyre, another of my favorites, could be classified as such.

I admit that there was a time when I avoided the romance section of a store, but in recent years, I am finding that there are hidden treasures in there, including mysteries, family sagas, historical and fantasy/paranormal type books. The romance genre is actually quite broad when you really think about it.

I wish that romance did not carry such a stigma because no one should be embarrassed to admit to reading or buying/checking out romances. I'm a strong believer that there is a book for every moment out there and sometimes a romance is just what a person needs.

meeyauw said...

You are absolutely right: and I am guilty. I am often a snob about music and books and there is no reason to be! Thank you . . . I needed to be reminded!

Gay said...

I think the difference between romance as a genre and literary novels that have romance is how the romance is portrayed, and whether or not the story is believable and/or predictable.

There are trashy romances and/or formulaic ones that have given the category a bad name. Then there are the new "chick lit" books, many of which are romances, others romantic comedies, still others about female friendships.

I hadn't started out to write a romance, but my novel has turned out to be complex, exploring the many facets of love: mother/daughter, best friends, romantic and there is an underlying question through the entire book of whether or not our heroine is meant to ever find true love and happiness... I call mine a literary novel, but others might call it "chick lit," and if you like romances, you could call it one, too--because it's about people that love each other deeply in a variety of different ways.

Xine said...

My response to your comment in my LJ, since I don't think you'll get any notification from there:

I love the early Pern books. Other good SF romances are LMB's latest, as mentioned in the OP, and some of her Vorkosigan books. Also some of the Liaden series by Steve Miller and Sharon Lee are great SF romances. I'm sure I could find others, if anyone is interested, or titles/Amazon links. Just ask!

Tori Lennox said...

I agree about Pride & Prejudice being a romance. :)

Stacy at Exceedingly Mundane said...

Great post and I love those quotes at the top! You're very right, there's nothing wrong with romance and even though I don't read what I term the "harlequin" type romances, most of what I do read has some romance to it, even the murder mysteries and thrillers. Most every writer puts something in their book, even if it's a parent or pet relationship and not a male/female throes of love type of romance.

By the way, most of what I fondly call "chick lit" and "women's fiction" has a lot of romance to it. Those two, plus Christian fiction, comprise about 90% of what I read!

Melody said...

Hi Marianne, thanks for dropping by my blog! :) You have one great post here...and I definitely not ashamed to confess I love reading romance novels. ;P

It's funny that romance novels still come up as one of the most popular genres in libraries / bookstores, contradicted to what others think out there. And as for me, I just don't care what people think of me if they caught me holding a romance novel. A great story is a great story, period. ;P

Chris said...

No sneers. I don't have a problem with romance in a book with a real story. I don't like a book that has what could only be described as porn with a little story thrown in (yeah, I used to read those). I think a real LOVE story can make my heart beat faster, I don't mind that!

sarala said...

Count me in with thinking of P & P as a romance novel at the top of its form.
Romance novels are the things that need plain brown wrappers in my life. :)

sarala said...

I loved your comment on my post that no one asks Stephen King if he writes from experience. Good come back. Probably every body sneers at romances because women like them much more than men. Pediatricians and teachers get paid less because they are women's professions after all. If men preferred romances to say westerns then they would have more cache. Life just isn't fair. But now we have chick lit so we can pretend our romances are better than if they were in Harlequin format.