Hi dear friends!
Today I am back with a discussion topic very dear to my heart!
Do you think romance readers are subpar readers? And subsequently are romance writers subpar writers?
This topic was born after one of my company’s bosses asked me about my book blog and the genre that I read.
When I told him (because yes it was a him) that I read nearly exclusively romance, I saw a little sarcastic smile appearing on his face. When I added that I also really loved young adult books with romance I could clearly see the contempt and superiority.
He had labelled me under a vapid woman who reads silly books filled with unrealistic romantic ideas.
In other words: he did not take me seriously at all. I was a subpar reader and a subpar blogger.
After years of reading romance and telling people about it I should have become used to this kind of reaction.
Yet it hurts every time!
Why are we, us romance readers, considered so badly in the bookish world?
When you do some research depending of the year you can find that the genre that’s making the most money is romance/erotica in a tie with thriller/suspense. I know sex is selling but many romance books don’t have sex in the story or not explicit scenes!
Sex is not what makes a book romantic. It’s the FEELINGS, the emotions!
Are all these people who buy romance books just plain stupid?
Don’t they have a brain or didn’t they studied? Or have interesting and very demanding jobs?
And why do all these authors write such silly stories? Just to make money and sell quickly and poorly written litterature?
Well I don’t think so!
I have a master in economics, manages two teams and have a very demanding and complex job.
I am NOT a stupid girl!
Before criticizing, do you at least KNOW what romance is?
Because romance is not only books with half naked dudes or dukes on the cover with fair maiden being ravished!
Romance is a wide genre!
I did an Top XXL Romantic reads two weeks ago and you can go there to have a taste!
Romance goes to erotica to young adult. From science fiction to historical. From contemporary to fantasy. From very hot and explicit to deeply moving and poetic.
Some famous romances are:
Gone with the Wind from Margaret Mitchell
Pride and Prejudice from Jane Austen
Romeo and Juliet from William Shakespeare
Cyrano de Bergerac de Edmond Rostand
Anna Karénine from Leon Tolstoï
Do you think these books are really to be laughed at?
What I think is that these preconceived notions come from people, men and women alike, who are just plain bookish snobs! You don’t have to read or write a Pullitzer to be a reader or a writer!
It’s not easy to touch people in their sould and sweep them off their feet, embark them on your story and make them forget the world for a few hours! It’s not a walk in the park to write a story so romantic that your reader wants to swoon, cry, laugh forgetting the world around and forgetting that she wears mascara which is currently running on her cheeks!
This is a true gift!
To touch one’s soul and make the reader’s world a better world.
This is magic!
So I would conclude with this quote from Rae Carson:
Now let’s chat! What do you think about romance now? Did I change your opinion?
Thanks for reading!
I totally agree. Romance is a part of life and writers that write it are amazing. The way they can get you to have feeling for the characters and their romantic relationships, it’s amazing! I will never be ashamed of reading romance. Anyone who thinks romance books are dumb needs to look in the mirror, they are missing out.
Funny Thing, I did a post a few weeks ago quite like this one almost for the same reason… I’m also a mostly romance Book Blogger and Reader and it’s true we tend to get use to the snickering and sarcasm but we shouldn’t… It’s one of the best selling genres out there.. globally.. and it’s so much more than just smut (which don’t get me started on the righteousness of some people when it comes to sex in books) It’s about connection and feelings… how to deal with them and how they often make us stronger… And even if you are only reading for the entertainment value of it. Noone should make you feel ashamed or less than anything because of what you love…
I think that as you say connection and relationship and yes love are the heart of every life. That’s what makes life worth living. So it’s normal to write and read about it!
I just don’t get why people have to have the type of reaction, like your boss did. To think one type of genre is better than the other? It’s so ridiculous.. It truly doesn’t matter what genre you are reading. You’re reading a book. And that in and of itself is beyond wonderful. ♥
Exactly Jen! Many people don’t even have access to books!
I get book shamed frequently, so I do understand your frustration. Thanks for this redeeming article. I couldn’t agree more. ☺
Oh you are most welcome!
Ah, man… i’m sorry people are assholes 🙁
I think there are subpar writers in any genre. I don’t read romance, but i did try samples for a few i thought may not be overly romantic, and i can see the difference. Some are well written, it’s just simply the topic doesn’t interest me.
On the other hand i did read really poorly written crime fiction as well, so i think it all comes down the writers skills, not the genre… :/
Whatever you choose to read is your business. Labelling romance readers vapid is like labelling crime mystery readers homicidal maniacs 😀
Bwahahahaha yes Norrie I did not think of it like that but …homicidal maniacs? LOL
I’ve gotten similar reactions from people. I have read so many genres but romance keeps calling for me. It is extremely profitable for publishing companies as well. If there weren’t romance readers, they’d go out of business.
Well that’s totally true Danielle! And they should not overlook the romance readers indeed. Now nor should romance authors do a poor job either thinking we are fools to fall for lots of sex scenes and little content (hint hint …you rast review) 😉
Honestly, I don’t have time for people like your boss. He can smile condescendingly all he wants, reading romance is something we love, we hurt no one with it. That he looks down his nose at us says more about him than it says about us.
Well said girl! Yes I know and it should not affect me but some days it’s harder than others and I was fed up with it!
I think we can trace all the scoffing that takes place when it comes to romance and even YA is because of misogyny. They are both book categories that are dominated by female writers and we know how society likes to poke fun at anything teen girls enjoy as well. It’s unfortunate, but I love that the book community is filled with so many accepting people. I hope none of us ever make you feel bad for the books you enjoy.
Oh no Alicia don’t worry about you making me feel bad! On the contrary! Even crime lovers or horrors lovers really do seem to get my passion 😉
I think that what makes the romance genre kind of scorned is the same thing that makes the James Patterson/Dan Brown-style books easy to look down upon. They are quick reads, often written on a certain formula, and tend to be written in a light, conversational style. I don’t think this makes a book bad, but I think the literature snobbery that makes literary fiction a thing has permeated the cultural consciousness, and we view “hard” books as good books.
Well I think you are onti something once again Katie! And speaking of literature snobbery is the appropriate term indeed. Maybe something that reads fast is considered bad? Like you don’t need to think to read hence don’t need many barin cells???
I think we consume ALL art this way nowadays. “Easy” art is too consumer, “easy” music isn’t real music, “easy” movies are just Blockbusters and can’t get nominated for awards. I even read some good satirizing of this trend (in music) in my most recent book. For some reason I think we’ve decided that the only good art is art that is hard to understand. Which I find preposterous because I couldn’t even tell you WHY I like my favorite piece of music, and I have a music degree.
There are those who think literature is the only thing anyone should read, and that anyone who reads genre is sub-par. Not just romance readers. But then again, a lot of people don’t even read who tell you this kind of crap.
For me there are people who read, and then there are those who don’t. And it really doesn’t matter what genre you read (or write) and when all is said and done, it’s all speculative fiction because we all ask the same question, as a writer: what if? Right? 😉
But seriously, trust a man to think romance is beneath him. You should have mentioned how much money Nicolas Sparks makes writing romance!!!
Hahaha yes Alexandra I will investigate and give his salary next time someone criticizes! Same with YA really as we all know JK Rowling is now billionaire!
My friends make fun of me and say oooh what are you doing later, reading Steamy Windows 5 or Burning Loins 2?!!!
It defo has a stigma attached to it and I have no idea why. I’m not ashamed of what I read but it really irks me when people constantly laugh about it!!
Caro I completely understand your feeling! As I said to Talia maybe we should start by offering them one of our best romance books to open their eyes? And dare them to read it whil we would read one of theirs? It could open some eyes 😉
Hi Sophie, this is such a great topic. I’ve been thinking about this matter for such a long time and it’s great to see you express it in this post too.
I think the main reason why romance is considered a subpar genre is because of the general stigma that it holds and all the stereotypes associated with it, like the bodice rippers, the half naked guys, the fact that they are supposedly filled with sex, and all that. I also believe a lot of it comes from ignorance and people not realizing that there is so much more to this genre than abs and sex. Just last october I came back from a signing and I showed my roommates the books I had bought (none of them had outragiously sensual covers) and as soon as they opened one and found a description of a sex scene they started mocking the language and bash the genre. They literally judged a very emotional book from those 3 lines only, and all because of the preconception they had of romance.
That being said I think it is a complex matter to discuss because I do agree that some authors just write romance or erotica, banging out book after the other, just to make a quick buck and cashing in on tropes and outlandish fantasies that they know will appeal to the reader, and that’s sometimes where the bad rep comes from. And I don’t think this happens as much in other genres.
On top of that, covers sometimes don’t help, and I can understand that a person who gets into the romance world without having been properly introduced could think that it’s all an erotica galore.
I wish people would be less judgemental and I hate that I basically need to ‘come out’ to people as a romance reader and have to look at them either mocking it or seeing me as less of because of it. I am also quite positive that if people started reading romance, they would actually really like it, but societal rules about which books are admissible prevents them from even considering these books.
So yeah, these are my thoughts on the matter, or at least some of my thoughts. I am curious to see what everyone else thinks about it.
Talia yes you are onto something when you say that some authors just write book after book to cash in! But honestly I have stopped reading them when I began reading other authors like Amy Harmon, Suanne Laqueur (yes yes I know she says she does not write romance but intense love is pouring out of her books!), Emma Scott, Laylah Attar etc.
I think as you said that the contempt come from ignorance. Maybe next time we could offer them a good romance book that they would read under (the) cover and will never admit they loved it? Make love not war right? LOL
Yes, Sophie!! I love that you’ve brought this up!!
I have a PhD in Mythology and Religious Studies. I’ve managed over 370 people, and think I am a relatively intelligent person. Yet, when people find out I mostly read romance and smut, they snicker and shoot me weird looks. Like they imagine me reading 50 Shades of Grey over and over again.
I for one don’t believe that ones intelligence is linked to their reading habits, which is why I don’t believe that romance readers or writers are less than others! As you mention romance can be found in almost every other genre there is, why is that if it’s that bad?
Oh Bibi I totally relate! And I think maybe if more men read romance the world would be a better place! Plus some romance writers have such smart and brilliant writing they really shed another light onto life! It would be a pity and a loss to overlook them.
I think some of the perception comes from back in the days, where Danielle Steele was one of the only big authors in the genre – and Fabio was on every cover. But since then so much have changed, and if you just look at the gazillion sub genres of Romance, it’s clear there’s a lot more going on 😉
I agree, Sophie. Romance is part of existence. Birds have fancy plumage and strut their stuff to attract a gal, seahorses have an intricate dance (by the way, it’s the male who becomes pregnant), penguins bring love tokens to their mates. So why should we be embarrassed by what is essentially a part of life?
Oh Jacquie I love your comparison here! So true! And yes seahorses are a very progressive specie LOL. But basically yes why should we be ashamed as it is part of life?