The Way I See It Today: Modern Romance Novels Are A GenX Gift or A Curse?


Kathleen Woodiwiss's The Flame and the Flower
Image via Wikipedia

 

 As many of you know, I’ve been frequenting  my local library to avail myself of the free wi-fi.  No, I don’t come to the library to actually read books. Why would I want to do that?  Books are for babies.  Gimme 5 – 6 hours of nothing but social networking, blogging, and mindless Internet surfing.  Can’t you hear my brain cells wasting away?   

It’s funny, because I was approached by one of the librarians yesterday, who asked me if I stayed in my seat for the entire time that I was here yesterday. With a straight face, I said, “Yes.”  

As a matter of fact, I’m sure she’s the same lady who just approached me now, warning me that if sitting in my seat for too long may cause my knees to lock up.  I’m like the tin man…I carry an oil can in my back pack.  A few squirts of WD-40 will do the trick.  

Anyway, a few days ago, I was sitting at one of the tables working, daydreaming, or something to that effect, when I noticed that the entire wall was stocked with romance novels of all kinds.   

I thought, people still read those things?  I mean, we now have the Lifetime Channel, Oxygen Channel and the Disney Channel.  We can get all romance, all the time, 24-7-365.   

Right?   

That day, I decided I would write a post about it, but how would I spin this?  Obviously, there are people (read women of all ages with a rich inner fantasy life and not much else going on otherwise – I’m joking) who are really into romance novels.  If they aren’t, who’s reading them? I’m not.  

Seriously.  I’m not.   Honestly. I’m not.  

I haven’t read a romance novel since my awkward and giggly days in junior high when I and several of my homies used to swap paperbacks and dream of the day when our respective Prince Charmings (for me, he had to be Black, of course) would come on his 10-speed, sweep us off our feet and ride us from our oppressive pre-teen lives to the local Dairy Queen or McDonald’s, where we would share a hot fudge sundae with freshly roasted nuts (wink wink).  Needless to say, I’ve been out of junior high for how many years?  Too many to count on my fingers and toes.  

Okay, I did read Pride and Prejudice in college, too.  I didn’t like it.  

Anyway, I digress.   

So, to gain a bit more perspective, I googled “romance novels” and went straight to Wikipedia, the premier authority on everything and anything that has nothing whatsoever to do with anything important.  According to Wikipedia:  

“The modern romance genre was born in 1972 with Avon’s publication of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s The Flame and the Flower, the first single-title romance novel to be published as an original paperback.  

“The genre boomed in the 1980s, with the addition of many category romance lines and an increased number of single-title romances. Popular authors began pushing the boundaries of the genre and plots and characters began to modernize. (my emphasis)  

“In North America, romance novels are the most popular genre in modern literature, comprising almost 55% of all paperback books sold in 2004. (my emphasis)  

“The genre is also popular in Europe and Australia, and romance novels appear in 90 languages. Most of the books, however, are written by authors from English-speaking countries, leading to an Anglo-Saxon perspective in the fiction. Despite the popularity and widespread sales of romance novels, the genre has attracted significant derision, skepticism and criticism.”  

I guess I would be considered part of the derision, skepticism and criticism contingent.  Why?  Because I don’t believe in happily ever after.  Let’s just say high school ruined that fantasy for me, and college didn’t help either.  

Since I like to blog from a GenXer’s perspective, I found it quite interesting that the modern romance novel (you know, with the hot sweaty bodies on the book cover intertwined in a sort of soft-porn kinda way) came into prominence around the time I was born.   

Could these novels have had something to do with the reason why GenX women have such a hard time being realistic when it comes to intimate relationships and what it takes to keep a man interested?   

What do you think?   

Who’s buying all these novels, especially when we have cable television channels geared toward women?  

Can we say by virtue of the number of romance novels being sold, that maybe there’s some kind of disconnect between fantasy and reality on the part of women that isn’t being addressed?    

How have romance novels influenced your world view on relationships?    

If you’re a woman, have you found yourself comparing your mate to the male characters in romance novels?   

If you’re a guy, did you have a secret wish to torch your significant other’s vast collection of romance novels dating back to 1984?    

Speak your piece.  

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4 Comments Add yours

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  2. Cherie says:

    “Can we say by virtue of the number of romance novels being sold, that maybe there’s some kind of disconnect between fantasy and reality on the part of women that isn’t being addressed? ”

    Romance novels are considered “light” reading by many. I, for one, will pick one up for some mindless fluff to pass the time when I really don’t want to think much. However, I’m sure at a deeper level, readers of this type of fiction are missing something in real life, much in the same way readers of mysteries, crime thrillers, etc., are as well.

    That said, it does make me ponder the row upon row of vampire fiction out there. Is society thirsty for blood? Eek. And ew.

    And I can’t believe you didn’t like Pride & Prejudice. That’s simply wrong, Tish!

    1. Romance novels are considered “light” reading by many. I, for one, will pick one up for some mindless fluff to pass the time when I really don’t want to think much. However, I’m sure at a deeper level, readers of this type of fiction are missing something in real life, much in the same way readers of mysteries, crime thrillers, etc., are as well.

      Light reading, lol. I know you don’t focus solely on “mindless fluff” in your repertoire, but I have a sickening feeling that most women who read this stuff don’t also read Andrew Hacker or the heavier stuff. Which is why most guys with two brain cells that rub together don’t take women of this ilk very seriously.

      That said, it does make me ponder the row upon row of vampire fiction out there. Is society thirsty for blood? Eek. And ew.

      I have also wondered about this. I’ve heard many takes on why so many women are fascinated by this genre, but I think it’s because women want to be independent and liberated, but want a man to “take” them in the most literal of ways…and the idea of a woman’s blood having all that mystical power is kinda erotic.

      And I can’t believe you didn’t like Pride & Prejudice. That’s simply wrong, Tish!

      What can I say? I like what I like. And Pride and Prejudice wasn’t one of those novels I was absolutely enthralled by. Did you like it?

  3. Cherie says:

    Hmmm, I thought I replied to this, but maybe I only dreamt it. LOL

    Yes, I liked P&P. Maybe because I read it for enjoyment and not as an assignment, I was able to sit back and take what I wanted from it, when I wanted. And I didn’t have to write a book report. :p

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