Romance is the bestselling fiction genre, and yet, it is often dismissed as being “fluff” or a “guilty pleasure.” Like a “sharing size” bag of peanut M&Ms you don’t share, many readers are embarrassed that they love to read love stories. Heck, I used to emphasize that I wrote historical fiction and then would mumble under my breath, “historical romance fiction.” We’ve been led to believe that unless a book made Oprah’s book club or was fit to be dissected in a graduate level literature class, it had no real worth. Even the ubiquitous “cozy” murder mystery has been considered smarter? More thought worthy?
Well, I’m done with being “ashamed” of loving reading and writing romance. Here’s why: nearly every great work of literature has, at its core, a deep relationship that evolves throughout the story. And very often, those relationships are romantic ones. They may not follow some of the strictures of a romance (a guaranteed happy ending being one), but they are, in essence, a romance.
It is not outrageous to propose that romance is looked down upon in the literary world because it is largely written by women, for women. Consider Nicholas Sparks’ books. They are listed primarily as Contemporary Fiction, Family Fiction, and even Animal Fiction (I was today years old when I learned this was a genre!). Eleven of his books have been made into movies!
Now I’m not bitter—I love an author’s success and I love that people love reading books about relationships (duh!). I just think we need to recognize that many authors like Sparks are writing romances, but they’re dodging the stigma, mostly by being male. Let’s just drop the stigma!
Watching two characters evolve, seeing the unfolding of how they interact and grow to love one another is primal human stuff, people! Don’t say reading romance is your “guilty pleasure.” Just enjoy what pleasure it brings you, just like those M&Ms!
Great, all I need is one more reason to procrastinate! As if Instagram wasn't enough...