Romance Awareness Month: Why We Should All Buy and Read Romances

BY HANNAH GUY • August 5, 2022

Romance Awareness Month: Why We Should All Buy and Read Romances

I have been reading romance novels since before I hit puberty. How could I not? My mother used to keep a stack of paperback romances (shared among her friends), and subsequently, I was devouring Danielle Steel and Julie Garwood and anything else that looked like it had drama and sex and adults doing adult things and living fabulous lives that always turned out well. (Let’s not discuss V. C. Andrews, but those were a hit in my grade school.)

Even when I was a kid, reading romances was the perfect escape from my life into a world that was strange and hopeful and filled with dashing (usually wealthy) men who made all the problems go away. Sweeping vistas, mansions, and everything tidied up in a nice, neat package.

Fortunately, those books transitioned over the years to feature far more diverse main characters who weren’t so much looking to be saved than to simply be loved . . . and yet these books still offer that sweet escape to somewhere else. Somewhere tragedy always gives way to hope, crisis always has a solution, and the happy endings are guaranteed. These characters also find strength, independence, and success—all while overcoming trauma and navigating nuanced and sometimes incredibly complex daily lives.

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s the value of enjoying a happily ever after—even if it’s fictional.

I have been working with and for some of the finest romance publishers, authors, and editors, and I currently read roughly three to seven romances a week. As far as I can tell, I might just have the greatest job in the world. And when it’s Romance Awareness Month (they mean books, don’t they?), I am happy to proclaim my love for the romance genre.

Yet I can still hear the snide remarks.

“Romance? Really?”

So here’s the thing: not everyone loves to read romances. But they really should. Romance is one of the few genres that is literally for everyone and about a subject that most if not all of us experience at some point during our lives: love. Not just romantic love but relationships with family, friends, and occasionally coworkers. Sex isn’t a prerequisite; gender and orientation are becoming increasingly irrelevant with so many books embracing more diverse characters and situations.

It’s possible to love snooty literature and also love curling up with a deliciously sexy sapphic romance at the end of a long week.

It’s like I tell my friend who still insists that vegetables are terrible: Stop expecting vegetables to taste like meat or chips or chocolate. When you love vegetables for what they are—and not what they are not—they are delicious.

Here are a few reasons people don’t read romance . . . and why those reasons are complete and utter bunk.

“Romance isn’t smart.”

Loud buzzer noise. Nope. Incorrect. Lots of romance is super smart. Yesterday I was working on copy for a book about Lichtenberg figures and atmospheric science, and I learned the word for that lovely summer rain smell (petrichor). And that was a romance for young adults! Snappy dialogue, whip-smart characters, hilarious situations, and clever, clean writing are all hallmarks of great romance novels. If you think romance isn’t smart, it’s more likely that you just haven’t found the right book.

Tip: Hit your local library or bookstore and ask someone to recommend a smart romance. Tell them what you like or what kind of books or movies you enjoy, and they will set you up with something more your speed. Trust me.

“I don’t like romance.”

This is probably a lie. Think about the last few movies or TV shows you watched. Was there love? Relationships? Maybe some kissy face? Did you decide those movies and shows were terrible for it, or did you realize that sometimes relationships are part of the human condition?

There’s a common misconception that romance novels just feature a couple sitting down next to a cozy fire, staring longingly into each other’s eyes and mooning for the next two hundred pages. In fact, there’s likely a whole bunch of other characters, other relationships, possibly an alien or two, and sometimes even a killer on the loose. There is almost always a romance for everyone.

Tip: Check back with that bookseller or librarian and mention your favorite genres. You’ll be amazed at how many romances can be supernatural/paranormal, suspense and thrillers, westerns, comedy, science fiction, fantasy, X-rated, historical, for teens, sports, speculative—the list goes on. If you have a fave book genre, you can bet your back cover there’s a romance (or eighty gazillion) for it.

“I’m embarrassed to be seen reading it.”

With so many people throwing around judgments about romance, it stands to reason that some people might not love having their book preferences advertised. When I was eighteen, I would secretly scoff at those judgments. Now that I am an adult and don’t care what other people think (glorious!), I just applaud that people are reading and will occasionally say, “That’s a good one” or “Do you recommend it?”

Tip: In the olden days, folks used book covers to protect their books and their privacy. Thanks to technology, however, we can read pretty much anything from our mobile devices. It’s also OK to read the sexy passages in a large font so someone else gets a glimpse of the fun.

“There’s no value to reading romance.”

Au contraire, my friends. Aside from the obvious joy and relief in escaping this currently hellish timeline and supporting an author, reading romances—and indeed any fiction, regardless of how snooty it is—actually has major benefits.

“Authors use sex scenes to present a healthy activity shared by two consenting adults who (in the end, if not at the moment) fall in love with each other,” points out Anne Browning Walker in Why Smart Women Read Romance Novels. “Heroines are sexually satisfied during each encounter. There’s a safe space to explore your fantasies and figure out what turns you on. Nothing dumb about that.”

And according to science, there are actual physical benefits to reading any books, including improving your brain power and increasing your empathy. It can even help you relax and fight Alzheimer’s.

Not too shabby for a romance.

Hannah Guy lives in Toronto and is a professional writer and copywriter who specializes in books, books, and more books. Follow her on Twitter at @hannorg.

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