Romance novels are my guilty pleasure. Books with X rated covers – you know, the ones with women falling out of dresses and impossibly tall, dark and handsome men bending in for a passionate kiss. The kind you hide away when your mum asks, “What are you reading?” See here for examples and a ridiculously funny read.
I’ve been told many times that such books are complete rubbish. Apparently, they’ll make you a simpering, romantic damsel desperate for prince charming to sweep you into your very own book-cover-worthy passionate kiss. I respond with a raised eyebrow that says, “Do I look like I need rescuing?”
In all seriousness, while the romance novel does exaggerate and romanticize, readers are not undiscerning sponges, greedily absorbing the plots that they read and pining for their own unrealistic romance after. We know what’s real and what isn’t. The female mind isn’t somehow weaker and more susceptible to “bad influences” as some think.
Romance novels have been a part of my life for a decade or so now. They’ve always been my go to solution when I’m having a bad day. Here are 3 reasons why:
1. They make you happy!
In a world that seems to be going to hell in a handbasket, escaping from reality for a few hours is surely no crime. In the perfect world of romance novels, there is always, always a “Happily Ever After”. The good guys always win and the bad guys always get justice. And of course most importantly, there is always love. As Jayne Ann Krentz, an accomplished New York Times Bestselling romance author, said in her book Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women, a romance novel depicts “ a fictional world that is free of moral ambiguity, a larger-than-life domain in which such ideals as courage, justice, honor, loyalty, and love are challenged and upheld.”
Now, who can resist diving into such a fictional world?
2. Romance readers make a great community
I remember the days my best friend and I would secretly read our romance novels under the table in school. We’d make long treks to the library and camp there for hours on end, losing ourselves among the shelves upon shelves of books. Those were the days.
Online, the website http://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/ is a great place to join in the romance community. It’s got great reviews on novels and a refreshingly critical take on romance novels. The founders of the website have even written a guide to romance novels – Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance. It’s so good it’s even used in undergraduate classes at top universities lik
e Yale, Princeton, and DePaul.
Being a romance novel reader means that you can be part of a smart, stereotype-busting community that kicks ass.
3. They remind me to stay strong when the going gets tough
Romance novels are full of ups and downs – there’s heartbreak then there’s happily ever after. There’s blooming love then there’s life-threatening danger. There are sweet kisses then bitter fights. After all, love is sweeter when it’s hard won is it not? The heroes and heroines always fight through these larger than life obstacles authors throw in their way to win their happily-ever-after. Admittedly, while my real life hero and I may never need to escape from assassins out to eliminate us because we know too much about some dastardly plot threatening national security, we’re still going to need to stay strong through our fights about who gets to do the dishes next.
Romance novels have gotten a bad rep over the years. But why not try reading one to see for yourself? I’m sure glad I did.