I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a true discussion, and this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I’m going to shout it loud and clear: I love romance. I love romance books and romance plot lines and romance in general. I’m not going to be ashamed of it, because in my opinion romance should not be as looked down on as it is.
(Also I saw this one someone’s blog and I can’t for the life of me remember who it was or find it but if you posted this on your blog please let me know so I can give you inspiration creds!)
PLEASE READ DOWN TO THE END OF THE POST OR AT LEAST SKIP DOWN TO THE END BECAUSE I HAVE A SUPER IMPORTANT QUESTION I NEED ALL YOUR HELP ON.
For most of my teenage years, romance was my favorite genre. I read basically all types: contemporary, historical, suspense, young adult. My original blog (for all the OGs out there that followed me way back when) was actually called Fictional Boyfriends, and was just a romance book blog. Recently (because of book blogging!!!) my tastes have expanded, and I have found a newfound love for contemporary, historical fiction, SFF, and magical realism. But romance will always have a special place in my heart.
A lot of people crap on romance books though. They think that all romance books are trash, or fluffiness, and not “real” reading. And frankly, this is just plain wrong. How could one type of reading be less real than another???? And yes, there are some romance books, like erotica, that maybe are a little trashy but 1.) there is nothing wrong with a little trash every once in a while and 2.) don’t discount the merits some romance books have.
1. Romance books focus on relationships.
Not only romantic relationships, but platonic relationships. Family relationships, friendship relationships, and relationships with yourself. I actually didn’t even realize there was such a problem with girl friendships in YA for a while because most of the romance books I read featured really strong female friendships! But more than that, I read romance books because I learn about relationships and their complexities. There isn’t really a plot in romance. It’s all character driven, and that means it deeply explores the complex friendships and interactions the character has. I learn what makes a good friend and what makes a bad friend. I learn how important family is, and how it’s never to late to mend your family’s relationships. I learn about second chances and forgiveness, and how everyone makes mistakes.* I’m more tolerant of others (I think) because I’ve seen it all before. I’ve read romance books where crazy things have happened, from both the victim and the other person’s POV, so I understand that sometimes things just happen.
*I also can give really good relationship advice to my friends now
2. The character growth.
I laugh when people say romance books have flat characters. They have some of the best growth and redemption I see in YA books! Because a huge message that I see reiterated in romance again and again is that for someone else to love you, you have to first love yourself. And I think that is a great message! No one can just “fix” you, you have to fix yourself. Someone else can provide motivation for you, but ultimately you have to make the choice to be happy. And often characters that see themselves as broken learn that their scars actually make them beautiful, which is such a heartwarming message that I think everyone could use. Characters go from selfish and whiny to understanding and selfless. They go from cynical and bitter to open and happy. They go from closed off to vulnerable. They learn that having and showing emotions isn’t a weakness, but a strength.
3. The love!
There is nothing wrong with loving love, and loving to see others be happy. Life can be so hard sometimes. It can make you sad and terrible things can occur and there’s just something about romance books that takes that ache away. Seeing others have their first kiss and fall in love for the first time and go on first dates reminds you that while life can be awful, there are some beautiful moments in it. There’s always something to look forward to. And getting so invested in other people’s problems helps me forget about my own.
Romance books don’t always have to end in a HEA. A lot of them do. But a lot of them also don’t. Because romance isn’t about riding off into the sunset together. Two people can be deeply, madly in love, and break up by the end of the book because you need more than love to make a relationship work. And while I love my light, happy romance books, I also love my sad, real, heartbreaking romance books, and I learn from both of them.
As this ramble of a post comes to an end, I want to make one thing clear: I will not shy away from loving romance books anymore. Reading romance books* does not make me less smart, or a less savvy reader. I don’t really expect this post to convince anyone who dislikes romance to suddenly start loving it, because everyone has different genres that call to them, but I am calling for an end of romance book shaming!
*And loving them
To end this post, here is a list of my absolute favorite romance books. Most are YA, but some are from other genres, and each of them I will recommend to anyone who wants to experience falling in love all over again.
- A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
- Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
- Pushing the Limits (It’s a series!) by Katie McGarry
- The Distance Between Us by Kasie West
- In This Moment by Autumn Doughton
- Through to You by Lauren Barnholdt
- I’ll Be Yours by Jenny B. Jones
Now to my Very Important Question I need your help on! As those of you who follow my twitter know, I am doing a project at school on children’s books and the representation (or lack of) in them, primarily in mainstream publishing companies (like what is sold at Barnes and Noble or something). I want to research statistics on how diverse children’s books really are, which minorities are underrepresented, why it is harder for minorities to be published, etc. Part of my project requirements is to find a mentor in the real world that can guide me in my research. I was hoping my mentor can be someone in a diverse publishing company, or a diverse children’s book author, or someone that works for an organization that encourages diverse children’s books or SOMETHING LIKE THAT. Since this community is SO AWESOME and has so many connections, I was hoping one of you can put me into contact with someone that can mentor me? Being my mentor is totally NOT a huge time commitment, it really is just some guidance.
(Btw my final product representing my research will be my own diverse children’s book. I think I already have my plot idea but I don’t wanna spoil it yet. But my hope is that I can somehow get this story out into the community, like donate it to elementary schools or to my local libraries. But any advice on this portion of the project is also appreciated. )
Do you love reading romance? Why? Or if not, why don’t you? What is your favorite genre to read and why? DO YOU HAVE HELP/CONNECTIONS/POSSIBLE MENTORS FOR ME REGARDING MY SCHOOL PROJECT?????