The Case for Romance: The Experiment Ends

Well, I officially only read Romance in February. I learned a few things, enjoyed myself for the most part, and have lots of questions.

 

First, I’ll start with what I read.

By Tessa Dare, I read: Do You Want to Start a Scandal?; Any Duchess Will Do; Beauty and the Blacksmith; When a Scot Ties the Knot; The Duchess Deal; Twice Tempted by a Rogue.

By Maya Banks, I read: In Bed with a Highlander; Seduction of a Highland Lass; Never Love a Highlander; Highlander Most Wanted

By Sarah MacLean, I read: The Rogue Not Taken; A Scot in the Dark; and tried to read The Day of the Duchess but gave up.

By Grace Burrowes: Too Scot to Handle

By Johanna Linday: Wildfire in His Arms

 

What I learned and what I want to know:

I learned that I like Grace Burrowes (reminds me a bit of Lauren Willig) and Tessa Dare the most. Specificaclly, Too Scot to Handle and When a Scot Ties the Knot. I learned that Maya Banks is probably the most sexist and violent (a lot of possession and mine and overly dramatic “protection”).

I also learned there are a lot less rapes than I expected* (although there is plenty of threat of rape from non-hero characters, especially in the Scottish ones), the heroines aren’t always innocent and pure and virginal (although I only read books published in the last 10 years or so), and finally, it’s really hard to find a historical romance not in England or Scotland. Which brings me to my questions.

What is the obsession with Napoleonic England and Highland Scotland? Why are the heroes always “big” or apparently of above average height and strength who tower over everyone or fill up doorframes? Why did it take me most of the afternoon to find a romance set in the American West that is available on Ebook that is not a Beverly Jenkins? Not that there is anything wrong with Jenkins, but I’ve already read some of her books and I wanted to try new things. With the popularity of WWII books (and the beginnings of a 20s fascination), why aren’t there historical romances set in those periods? The early 1900s is very similar to Napoleonic England– there are still rules and nobility and titles, and I would have thought the popularity of Downton Abbey would inspire some romance copycats.

I’m a bit romanced out for now, but I will certainly be coming back. I was snowed in last weekend and I made myself a nice indent in the couch since all I did was read and watch Netflix.

*I’m sure if I read some romance books from the 70s/80s and possibly 90s there’d be more violence against women marketed as “romance.” Outlander is just one example.

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The Case for Romance

I like romance, but I’ve (almost) always steered towards the “literary” version of romance (i.e. anything not mass market paperback and/or cataloged as romance). Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series is a perfect example. However, I’ve been reading more and more about romance and why it’s important, and also how dumb it is that romance readers and authors are so harshly judged. Especially considering that romance readers make up a HUUUGE portion of the reading public. I don’t actually know any statistics, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the money from romance allows publishers to publish the award winning literary fiction. According to this article, it is certainly the most profitable genre… From the library perspective, our romance readers most certainly keep our circulation statistics up.

I have two personal examples of the judgement surrounding romance books, their authors, and their readership. Both of which have encouraged me to read more romance, so in the month of February I will be reading all romance (except my audiobooks during commute time). So far this month, I’ve read Do You Want to Start a Scandal, Any Duchess Will DoBeauty and the BlacksmithWhen a Scot Ties the Knot, and The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare. Also, Wildfire in His Arms by Johanna Lindsey.

I started reading Paris in Love by Eloisa James and realized James is from the same small town in Minnesota as my friend’s dad. Which is pretty cool. It’s also really cool that in her regular life she’s Mary Bly, a Shakespeare professor. At a holiday party at my friend’s house I was talking to her dad and grandma (dad’s mom) about Mary Bly/Eloisa James, and grandma jumped in the middle of me talking about how cool I think it is that she’s a Shakespeare professor and a romance author, with “and now she writes smut.”

I was browsing shelves at the library trying to find something that struck my fancy (as I’m in yet another reading slump) when I saw a Do You Want to Start a Scandal miscataloged as fiction. I grabbed it so I could send it in to the correct person to fix it, but then decided to check it out instead. When my husband saw it on my nightstand his immediate reaction was, “what are you reading? I didn’t realize you read this kind of book.”

Sting the Dog

Minnesota sure likes their library animals… Another cutie pie from my great state went viral this weekend. Sting is a therapy dog and visited the White Bear Lake Library for their “Paws to Read” program, but no readers showed up! The library posted the picture to Twitter and other social media outlets, (I first saw it through We Rate Dogs on Twitter). According to an Minnesota Public Radio article, Sting’s calendar is filled through April, and I hear Sting received phone calls from all over the country from people who wanted to read to the lonely pup.

As an aside, I love this program, and love that we do it my library too. Sting’s library even reached out to other local libraries asking for their Read to a Dog program schedules in order to send eager readers to visit other dogs, once Sting’s schedule was full. Hopefully, this little viral story will continue parents to bring their children to dog reading programs, and encourage extra reading.

#Foundinabook

Look up the hashtag #foundinabook sometime, and you’ll find some interesting things! These are much more inspiring than what others have found.

One reader thought Amina’s Voice was so good, she (I’m assuming she) had to let everyone know just how good it is.

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This lovely bookmark was found in a book a while ago and I love looking at it at the desk, so I decided I had to share. IMG_5935

Read Like Rory Gilmore

Unless you live under a rock, or do not know any female between the ages of 15 and 45, you probably know that Netflix hosted a revival of the 2000s classic Gilmore Girls. The revival, officially called Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, aired on Thanksgiving weekend and most people I know dedicated full days of their holiday weekend to binge watch the mini series.

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I won’t go into details about the show (but holy cliffhanger!), but I will brag about my awesome way to incorporate the library into the Gilmore Girls hullabaloo.

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Again, unless you live under a rock, you are aware that Rory Gilmore is a voracious reader. I found many a Rory Gilmore Reading challenge checklist online, so I printed one out, and looked for as many of the 300+ as I could find. I then printed out a fresh list and several pictures of Rory Gilmore reading and called it a display.

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Surprisingly, a few of the books have gotten checked out! I was afraid none would circulate since they’re mostly school/homework type books, but so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised. For those curious, I’ve read 79 of 339. Bad Librarian.

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