Discussion: Romance

Posted 28 May, 2018 by Nikki in General / 4 Comments

I’m not primarily a romance blogger, or even frequently, but I do pick up the occasional romance — usually not contemporaries, at least not for straight romance, though there’s Susanna Kearsley, but more classic stuff like Georgette Heyer and Mary Stewart. (I do read LGBT romance, but that’s a rather separate genre in many ways.) I think that mostly lets me duck some of the rubbish said about romance books: I don’t constantly get shamed for the interest, though I’ve seen that attitude out there. Heck, my grandma always dismisses what she reads as ‘penny dreadfuls’, and as far as I can tell at least some of it is mushy romance and family sagas (though she also likes Dorothy Dunnett, so there’s that for comparison).

I can totally understand people for whom romance isn’t a thing they want to read about — but I do hate the attitude that reading romance is pointless or inferior in general. First off, I don’t believe in disparaging people for what they enjoy, because enjoyment is something humans crave and even need. And secondly, I hate the attitude that reading romance is just escapism or whatever: it deals with powerful emotions that real people feel and have to deal with, and with relationships between people and how they’re negotiated. I don’t know how anyone can act like reading about the invention of flying cars is more important than reading about how to navigate complex human relationships!

Like any genre, romance has its problems. It comes with a whole bag of tropes that can be really problematic, and romance just isn’t a priority for a lot of people (or even an interest at all for some). That’s great. But let’s not label it as pointless for everyone in every situation — and that’s the attitude that comes across sometimes, especially when people just dip into the genre and talk about it as a “guilty pleasure” or “a bit of fluff”… or a “penny dreadful”. It just sounds so dismissive.

Fiction is, for the most part, designed to entertain the reader. Let’s not disparage romance just for being really successful at doing that!

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4 Responses to “Discussion: Romance”

  1. I love reading romance, or at least I love certain writers that write romance fiction. It’s a wonderful genre, when written well, and garbage, when not. And for full disclosure: I’m not romantic myself. Romance never played a huge part in my life. Furthermore, I’m a writer who has trouble writing romance. I tried, but my female protagonists tend to solve their problems themselves and ignore the guy dangling nearby. But I love reading a good romance and proud of it.

    • It’s always interesting how people that aren’t expected to like a genre sometimes do! I’m not particularly romance/sexuality oriented, but I like a good romance too.

  2. I totally agree with you. I never regard a genre as inferior just because I don’t like it and I hate seeing that attitude around the bookyverse. Reading for me is about enjoyment and entertainment so people should read what they enjoy and not be targeted by book snobs. I try to avoid romance as much as possible but I’d never have a go at anyone who loves it. The world would be dull if we all loved the same things!
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