Monday, November 3, 2014

Confessions of a romance reader....

 The Sum of All Kisses
It's time to come clean and confess...I read romance novels.  You may be wondering why I feel the need to confess such a thing, if so you may be one of not so many people who see reading romance as valid as reading any other type of fiction. Trust me, you would seem to be one of a small group,  many people see the romance genre as somehow inferior and less worthy of admiration and attention than other genres {crime, science fiction, adventure and so on} or general fiction.
But { and it's a really big but}  when we look at the statistics and see just how many sell then we see that despite it's bad press {sorry, bad pun} romance fiction is hugely popular. Recently I attended a wonderfully entertaining workshop at the Melbourne Writers Festival featuring US author Rachael Herron where she talked a bit about the perception of romance fiction held by many versus the reality. One of the most interesting statistics was that romance fiction outsells mystery and science fiction combined and currently accounts for 46% of mass market sales.
One of my and Rachael's favourite authors is Eloisa James, her bio debunks another common misconception that romance authors are not clever enough to write proper fiction.... after graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Eloisa has approximately 3.5 million books in print in thirteen languages.
My preference is historical romance by writers such as Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, Mary Balogh, Eloisa James, Loretta Chase, Anne Gracie and Stephanie Laurens {their passages of witty dialogue, passionate encounters and lavish descriptions are a pleasure to read} but there are many other categories. If you're curious take a look at the Australian based online romance bookstore Rendezvous which encompasses contemporary, erotica, fantasy/sci-fi, historical, humour, medieval, Scottish, regency & suspense romance. Take your pick! Another great website is Sarah Wendell's Smart bitches trashy books

So what about those who would still say romance fiction is puerile, anti-feminist or not worth our time? I will give the final word to successful author Jennifer Crusie the critics don’t matter, the readers do; we don’t write to please establishments, we write to reach women. And by writing good books, we counteract decades of pessimism with narratives of realistic optimism, we break through knee-jerk limitations on women imposed by both the political right and the political left, and we refute the sterile elitism of current literary criticism. We entertain, we enlighten, we empower, and in the end we influence far more people than any of our critics ever will. {From her essay Defeating the critics: what we can do about the anti-romance bias.}

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