Olivia Handscom ‘18/ Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Once upon a time romance novels were something people were embarrassed to admit they read. People used their hands to hide the covers of scantily clad women swooning in the arms of shirtless Fabio, while the sun set in the background, or something equally as ridiculous. Romance novels were something you read under your covers, in private, for fear of not being taken seriously. But with a world that seems deprived of the happily ever after, people are finding solace in the pages of books. Many are turning to the old favorite genre of romance. Reading romance is often a cathartic experience that is usually emotionally satisfying. And for that reason romance is often not taken as seriously as other genres. Not only is this unfair to romance novels and those who love them, but it is untrue that because the main focus of a novel is a romance, that the story is not valid or significant.
Romance is a very important genre that is often shuffled to the side, and not given the proper recognition it deserves. Forgetting for a second that it is one of the most popular genres being published, and it is a 1.4 billion dollar industry, there is also important lessons to be learned from romance novels. They teach people about human connections and relationships, what works and what doesn’t. They give examples of things like deceit and selfishness, and show that those things do not add to a relationship, but rather take away from it. They show relationships realistically require work on both sides, but the work will pay off. Romance novels show people that happily ever afters are obtainable, but they will require work to achieve that outcome.
In recent years, people have become more open about their romance reading habits, often even coming to the genre’s defense. In an article titled, “Don’t Hide Your Harlequins: In Defense Of Romance,” Bobbi Dumas wrote about how she was proud of romance for being a successful female dominated genre, “Female writers writing for female readers about traditionally female interests.”
Other people like Amanda Deadmarsh, just like the lessons romance novels have taught. In her article, “Defense Against Romance,” she wrote “Romance novels taught this group of readers to hold out for love that was mutually supportive, sexually enjoyable, and marked by respect and kindness. Shouldn’t we all hold out for that?” Romance novels have given people higher expectations when it comes to love, and that is not a bad thing at all.
It is almost a guarantee that literary snobs will continue to scorn romance novels, but the genre will stride on, into happily ever after.
There is a romance novel out there for everyone. To get you started here are a few recommendations:
For fans of bittersweet romance: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Lou Clarke has been hired as a caretaker for ex- master of the universe Will Traynor, who has found himself wheelchair bound after a motorcycle accident. Will is moody and unpleasant, but Lou refuses to handle him with kid gloves. The pair form an unlikely bond, and Lou realizes she wants to show Will there is more life to live, even in the state he is in. Warning: this book may make you laugh, cry, and want to hurl it across the room in anger.
If you like Me Before You, check out the sequel After You. Also keep an eye out for the movie version, coming out some time in 2016, starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin.
For fans of travel: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Ignoring the title, this book is actually very good. It follows Anna Oliphant who is spending her senior year at an American boarding school in Paris. There she meets a great cast of characters, including Étienne St. Clair, a very cute English boy who seems like he may be interested in her. The only problem is he has a girlfriend. A year full of shenanigans and heartbreak ensues. Perkins does an amazing job setting the scene, the reader really feels like they are there, with Anna, experiencing Paris.
If you enjoy this novel check out the two other companion novels in the trilogy: Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After.
For fans of Historical Romance: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is transported from her own time in the year 1945, and is set back to Scotland in 1743. Claire is English, and an outsider in the 18th century Scotland clan that she has landed herself in. There she meets a young Scottish warrior Jaimie Fraser, and the pair form a connection, which makes life more difficult for Claire, who has a husband back in 1945.
If you like Outlander, there are seven other novels in the series, as well as a TV adaption that is currently on its first season.
For the fans of young adult: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Laura Jean Song has written five love letters to five different boys that she has, at some point in her life, loved. She pours her heart out in these letters, and says everything she is too scared to say in real life, because as soon as she finishes the letter she seals it and puts it under her bed, never to be mailed. Until one day of course, they are mysteriously mailed out. Now Laura Jean’s love life is in a bit of chaos as the boys she has loved, including her sister’s ex- boyfriend, receive the letters she has written to them. This is a really cute, fun story.
Check out this one along with the sequal, P.S. I Still Love You, which was recently released on May 26.
For fans of nostalgia: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Lincoln O’ Neil is the internet security officer at a newspaper, where he does things like monitor people’s emails. When Lincoln comes across two friends, Beth and Jennifer, using their company emails to chat, he knows he should turn them in, but he finds their interactions so entertaining, he lets the harmless fun go on for a bit. It doesn’t take long for him to realize he is falling for Beth, but now it is too late to introduce himself. This story takes place in 1999, just before the turn of the millennial. It hilarious and heartfelt and you find yourself falling in love with all of the characters.
If you like this, check out any of Rainbow Rowell’s books, they are all just as amazing.