Every so often, the news media picks up (and picks on) the romance genre and whole lot of mud is thrown up in the air. A recent op-ed piece in the LA Times gets all down and nasty on the genre, even though it’s one of the few areas of the economy that’s doing well. Case in point: “It’s so easy to poke fun at contemporary romance novels that there’s really no sport in it.” ::headdesk:: At least the author of the op-ed piece attempts to reconcile why romance novels are so successful, but she barely scratches the surface.
The New York Times also published a piece that was surprising for its lack of condescension. Citing examples as far ranging as JR Ward’s 125,000 copy print run for Lover, Avenged to the upswing in romance novels published for e-books, the NYT piece touches on something the LA Times piece misses: the loyalty of romance readers.
As a long time romance reader, I wanted to stand up and cheer at Super Librarian’s recent post. To tell someone you read (and enjoy!) romance novels is to invite scorn and the immediate prejudice that your IQ is significantly lower than first thought. I applauded my computer screen when SL wrote:
Whenever I give one of my reader’s advisory talks on the romance genre to librarians I always tell them one thing.
“If you do not take anything else away from this presentation, at the very least remember this. Do not sneer. Do not condescend. Do not talk down to romance readers. The sad truth is that they expect it. They expect people to treat them like morons. So when someone doesn’t? When someone listens to them, and values their reading opinions? They remember. And you’ll have an enthusiastic library patron for life. If you do condescend? Expect them to never darken your doorstep again, and they’ll tell everyone they know how much you suck. You will be losing a huge potential market for your library. Remember this, and remember it well.”
Thank goodness for the internet! No longer a closet romance reader, I have found a home for expressing my appreciation for the romance novel. Websites like Super Librarian, Dear Author, All About Romance and especially Smart Bitches, Trashy Books have provided a smart, safe space for romance readers to explore and share why they love the genre. And it’s not all girlish squeeing — there’s a healthy dose of reality as romance readers are exceptionally picky and if something’s not working for them in a book, they’ll let everyone and the author know.
Do you read romance? What are your favorite books/authors?
Is there another genre that you read that doesn’t get the respect it deserves?