Opinion: 50 Shades of the Romance Genre

Alison Michalak ‘20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

The romance genre is often stigmatized by popular culture as being either “chick lit” or taboo, and is usually thought of as being poorly written fiction for bored house wives to read. But what is a romance novel really? According to a Huffington Post article titled “10 Surprising Facts About Romance Novels”, romance novels make more than a billion dollars a year and sell more than the combination of mystery, science fiction, and fantasy novels. The article also points out that the readership for romance novels is quite large; about 70 million people in the United States read at least one romance novel a year (Kahn). This information begs a question; if romance novels are so successful and widely read, then why does it seem like they have bad rap in popular culture?

Its seems that the biggest reason romance novels are not shown as much outward appreciation as other works of fiction, is because when most people think of them, they think of erotic novels like Fifty Shades of Greywhich are poorly written. Now the public holds this notion that there are only certain types of people who should read romance, and that it’s shameful for any literature enthusiast to partake in that readership. However, what society and pop-culture are forgetting, is that the genre “romance” is an umbrella term. There are many different types of romance novels like historical romance, sci-fi romance, romantic suspense, and yes, erotic romance. All romance novels have varying levels of mushy love stuff, and all novels tell a different story of how people fall in love. For example, on one hand you have a book like Twilight, which is non-stop blatant affection; on the other hand, there is Pride and Prejudice, a story about the deeper complexities that go along with falling in love with someone.

Romance novels cannot be stopped, they are already one of the top selling genres in the United States; all there is left to do is break the stigma that surrounds these books. After all, the craving for affection and love is very common within human nature. Most people have stories about seeking out a significant other to spend the later part of their lives with, and that story is what’s written in a romance novels. So, these stories found in romance books are extremely close to home, and arguably more relatable then say, a sci-fi book, to the average everyday reader. Popular culture needs to keep in mind that there is more than one kind of romance novel, making the genre of romance more accessible and relatable then other genres of books.


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