Ok, I get it, the romance genre still has a reputation for being anything from "fluff" to soft-core porn (or not so soft-core). This opinion is largely held, of course, by those who've never read a good romance. And yes, I know that's a subjective statement, but as with any genre, there are books that live down to stereotypes and books that rock your world. And the classification of those books may vary from reader to reader!
When I'm engaged in a good romance, I find myself asking what I would do differently in a given situation or conflict. Sometimes the character acts much as I would, other times I think, "I would have...." Sometimes, even if I relate very directly to the character, they act in a way I might have ten years ago and it's interesting to see how my reaction to a conflict is different now. When I'm into the relationship, I find myself swept along with it, even if the characters are not at all like me. I feel that adrenaline rush that comes with discovering another person, both mentally and physically.
This also happens when writing my characters. Of course, they tend to have some bits of my personality, but by and large they are their own people (persons?). Even as I'm writing along my rough outline, my characters will say and do things I didn't "plan" and I learn so much about human interaction by transcribing their thoughts and actions. I've read and written books that have actually helped me heal from past relationships and made me a stronger, more confident person.
And hey, who's to say that the value of a book must depend on if it changed your life? Sometimes what your brain and heart need are a bit of escapism, a rest from the constant demands on us to be productive, have it all together, and succeed, am I right?
What book has taught you something about yourself? The first that comes to my mind is The Viscount Who Loved me, by Julia Quinn (yes, yes, soon to be season 2 of Bridgerton on Netflix). I read it years ago and I remember that Kate's own insecurities about being the less pretty sister to the greatly desired Edwina really resonated with me! As Kate grew in her confidence and self-worth awareness, it reminded me of the lessons I'd learned through the years...and some I'd forgotten but needed!
Great, all I need is one more reason to procrastinate! As if Instagram wasn't enough...