Friday, July 3, 2009

my obsession with romance novels...this may be a multipart post

so first i should explain that i have always been a reader, but have stayed away from the chick lit in my usual uppity-nosey fashion, telling myself that i have to be enlightened or invigorated or at least feel smart when i read a book. it was long novels or thick nonfiction books about the Romanovs that lined my bookshelves and piled up along my bed. i spent a fortune at borders and barnes & noble in college, which also became my favorite study haunt.

then several big things happened to me. first of all, i finished my masters, effectively ending my official education for the rest of my life. if i thought collegiate and academic reading was bad in undergrad, grad school was a hundred times worse. i needed a break. i didn't want to have to concentrate or even think when i read a book.

with the finishing of my masters came moving away from bloomington (big thing #2), the town i called home for the past five years. but i couldn't move back to what i now considered my childhood home because big thing #3 happened: my mom's house flooded, to the point where it would be unliveable for the next five months. so i not only moved back in with my mom and brother, but joined my grandma, grandpa and uncle. all of us, a big happy family, under one fucking roof.

i needed distraction from cleaning out muck and smelly river water and childhood memories literally gone down the drain. i was shamefully at walmart with my brother buying fans when i spied their pathetic book section - and saw the book pictured above. a duke, i thought. i love learning about royalty. why not give it a go? it was only $6 (another fantastic perk about romance novels). i threw it in the cart and took it home, only to devour it in a matter of hours.

from that moment, i was hooked. julia quinn became my favorite author, and i preceded to go to waldenbooks (the disgustingly mediocre lone bookstore in columbus that stocked romance novels) and literally bought them out of her books. after checking her websites for recommendations, i moved on to gaelen foley, who i also treasure - though she is a little more into the specifics sex-wise and a little bit less believable romance-wise than julia. i couldn't get enough of romance novels. i finally had to renew my library card for the first time in 8 years and check out the books. i know those pissy librarians were totally judging me as i came in week after week, only to rent books with titles like "her only desire" and "one night of sin." oh, but it was totally, totally worth it, because the books have opened me up to a whole new literary world.

Romance novels account for billions of dollars and millions of copies in the book world and appear in 90 languages. the genres range from contemporary to historic (my favorite) to science fiction to fantasy - and there are even genres within genres (in historic, there's pirates, vikings, native americans - don't laugh!). for any topic that interests you, i guarantee there's a romance novel out there.

and they are surprisingly well-written. i say this because i have read some really, really good ones - and some disgustingly bad ones. the covers are usually embarrassing, but don't let that fool you - both good and bad books get mostly bad covers. my absolute favorite website and the place i go to for my daily laugh - as well as recommendations for other books - is Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Sarah and Candy are geniuses and take the books very seriously, as they believe it undermines the romance novel industry to treat them any other way. For a good laugh, please go to the Cover Snark section of their website, where they have so much fun with seriously awful covers.

finally, i'll share with you the book known on SBTB as "romance novel crack", the book that turns even the most cynical reader into if not a fan, at least a person who respects the genre: Lord of Scoundrels, by Loretta Chase. if you read only one romance novel in your whole life, let it be this one. just grab a glass of wine and enjoy. i promise you'll thank me later.

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