Wanton, Worthless, and Not Much Else

The stigma attached to romance novels, probably from their inception, remains strong even today. – Worthless pieces of mindless garbage.

There are a lot of women I know, who admit (with some embarrassment) that reading romance novels is a “guilty pleasure” and nothing more. There are others who admit to it being “light reading” when whiling away time and not wanting to “think too much.” Others categorize the genre as “silly,” “predictable” and even downright ridiculous and harmful.

Why the embarrassment?

Why the harsh judgement?

For the most part, the romance genre has been critically ignored and/or dismissed. Yet it is one of the biggest sellers in fiction.

But, women people immerse themselves in romantic fiction as a form of escape. It’s fantasy, it’s limited, it’s dumb reading!” Snort self-proclaimed intellectuals thumping their hard cover works of presumed literary genius.

People also immerse themselves in movies and TV shows as a form of escape, folks. They do the same with music, sports and such. Doesn’t make them dimwits anymore than reading a romance novel would, does it?

Good. Now go back to your Cafe au Quink Ink Book club and ponder that.

There is a constant and underlying suggestion from many, that people who read romantic fiction are somehow incapable of intellectual thought or response. And, I’ve always wondered why that is.

I read a lot, and a wide range of books in many genres. Historical fiction and graphic novels are usually high on my list. Fantasy, occasionally. Mystery and suspense, yes. And, romance also. What I pick up to read mostly depends on my mood, and not what is sitting pretty on the New York Times Bestseller list.

And, definitely not what those book club people shout at me to read now, this instant, and if I don’t, OMG my life will be lacking so, so much if I don’t drop everything, even Downton Abbey, OK but not Sherlock, because which idiot would not watch that? And, just READ this exceptional work of * gasp * BRILLIANCE our generation is so fucking fortunate to be bestowed with this month in 20fucking14! And, AND, then let’s all discuss it to death via Whatsapp and Twitter and Facebook, and simultaneously pat ourselves on the back for being intellectuals and better than those silly romance readers.

OK, now I need to crack my stiff knuckles from typing all that without pause.

Done.

Some people read as a form of escape, some to immerse themselves within the pages of a tale, and some just for the sheer joy of reading. So, I don’t really see how reading say, a murder mystery would be any different from reading a romance?

No one swallows literary fiction whole and accepts everything they read within the genre without thought. If they do, then well, there’s a problem there, right? Because you cannot (and do not) as a reader agree with everything you read even if it’s The Holy and Revered Word by Leo Friggin Tolstoy.

No one can claim to intellectually and emotionally accept everything the characters in literary fiction say and do. The plot does not always please you immensely, neither does the outcome or the path towards the eventual outcome. Sometimes you approve of the protagonist’s growth, other times you want to bitch slap the mother fucker for being so idiotic and not seeing life as he should.

Similarly, no one swallows romantic fiction whole and without thought. Again, if they do… Something’s wrong.

People do lose themselves in fiction sometimes, and it’s scary when it happens. Hell, people read stuff on blogs and take it as they would a Gospel passage. Did you hear that Obama is secretly seeing Jennifer Aniston? Brad is so fucking pissed he got a hair perm. There was a blog post the other day. God’s honest truth. I swear on my mother’s favourite porcelain teapot, it’s true.

But, not everyone falls for everything they read. People aren’t stupid, women are certainly not, and that includes the ones who read romantic fiction as well.

So, keep calm, ignore the snobs, and carry on reading romance if that’s what you like to read. It can be emotionally uplifting, moving and all those other things associated with soul and heart. There’s no shame in that.

Hope you all are having a good week. My apologies for the short post, but I must rush off to finish writing chapters and things. More on the flip side of this topic soon.

Thanks for stopping by.

Much love,

Anne

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29 thoughts on “Wanton, Worthless, and Not Much Else

  1. Most of these self titled snobs are people who neither understand true romance fiction or the so called intellectual books they horde to cover up for deeper insecurities.

    Bottom line there is no need to be so judgmental. There is something to learn from every genre but we should definitely respect the fact that everyone has preferences and not everything has to have an intellectual stamp and heck a nice romance read is a wonderful thing to immerse yourself sometimes.

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  2. I so agree. I have been reading all kinds of books, Infact, there are times when I have nothing to read, I read my husband’s marketing books.
    I remember the day I went out and bought 50 Shades of Grey and boy o’ boy when some people saw it on my bookshelf they were like Naushi!, you read such crap.
    Honestly I went out and bought to see what the craze was all about. I know I could have read it online or downloaded and e-book but, no, I went and bought it from Liberty 🙂 and while I was buying it a woman was looking at me if I was some crazy, sex starved woman, no, seriously,the look she gave me was filthy.

    I have read my share of classics, historical and sci-fi and I just do not care what others thing.

    As for Sherlock, koi muqabla hai kya!

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      1. My hubby gave me the weird, are you out of your freaking mind look too when i charged them to the credit card 🙂 and then after he saw me flip through the three books , he asks, are you actually reading that crap???!!!!

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  3. I really don’t care what ppl say abt reading am more addicted to all sorts of books more than tv and once in a while I like watching movie in the cinema. But reading bits everything.

    I love reading just for the joy and I really find time to do so especiall romance but that doesn’t mean I don’t read other books. And am always in books store everytime am in a mall.

    And for those who say reading romance books is a waist of time, they don’t know what their missing out on.

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  4. Anne,

    It was interesting to read about the outlook towards romantic novels. I never thought that genre of books as worthless pieces of mindless garbage. There is some beauty in dreaming, likewise in romantic novels too. Some consider it as an escape route from reality while others consider it as a tale of love and derive joy from it. You have highlighted those points beautifully and yes most of the times such novels can put you in high spirits and dare you to hope or feel the wonderful feeling of love.

    There is a constant and underlying suggestion from many, that people who read romantic fiction are somehow incapable of intellectual thought or response.— What crap! That’s the thought which came to my mind upon reading this line.

    Sometimes you approve of the protagonist’s growth, other times you want to bitch slap the mother fucker for being so idiotic and not seeing life as he should.— lol! I love this free style of your writing very much!

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  5. Finally some sane voice. I have had known plenty of snobs who would scoff and form judgement if they see anything remotely romantic, to spite few, I read SoG , the horror and the taunts but I remained immune, that book atleast brought out the submissive side of relationship. It made good conversation starter and made me aware of how some women loose their own identity in relationships.
    Personally I have savoured the romance, the thrill and the thoughts these words have provided. They have been an escape and a companion.
    I remember the struggle that went in reading – My name is red by Pahmuk, since then I have given up on these “must read” elite books and make my own choices.
    Phew such an interesting write, Anne, thank you and love!!

    And for name dropping Sherlock – love you!! Benedict C for the win always!!

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  6. First off…apologies for not commenting on ..well anything till now..I really don’t have even have an excuse….
    I read romance because its just makes me feel goof ..it uplifts my mood and let’s me lose myself…all of which are true about any other book I immerse myself in …the degrees may vary but all books do that… And that’s why I read anything…
    I dont deny I have been apologetic about reading romance when I was younger…not any more..its totally liberating..:D

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  7. Who gives a rat’s ass if romance novels are considered “wanton, worthless and not much else”.
    I love love stories, bas. I have since I discovered Mills & Boon at age 13 and my little heart raced when the “tall dark and handsome” (they were never anything else) bent his head to kiss the “petite blonde firebrand” (again, they were rarely brunette or red haired) Those books were completely and utterly benign compared to what is available on the shelves now. I haven’t read M&B in years but I do hope they have moved with the times. 🙂
    I love fiction, be it stories of murder, espionage, cops and robbers. And if it has an underlying theme of romance, that’s it, I’m hooked.
    And thanks to all of you, I am now into even more fascinating stuff written by writers who call themselves “Deranged”… with good reason too. 🙂 And it completely appeals to my totally deranged side.

    And guess what, Oh “literate” ones, I actually even cry along with the protagonists in the stories (gasp!)

    So snobby intellectuals (or the chatterati as my husband calls those so-called intellectuals who are regularly asked for sound-bytes by TV channels) can go take a long walk off a short cliff with their “meaningful” literature tied to their backs for wings. I don’t give an airborne fornication for their opinion.

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  8. It was so good to read your thoughts on the matter. I do agree that we should read for ourselves and the joy that we get from it. And despite the fact that we don’t have to like everything the book has, we really are happy to read it. Each book gives us something, adds to our personality and I must say reading something not minding it”s genre is never a waste. Said that, I must confess I’m one of those who really think while buying a book, log kya kahenege? and yes, there are times too when I say, to hell with them, it’s for me and my me time, so butt off. I’m really wary of these intellectuals. I now so want to read the other side too Anne, and I must say, there will be something I’ll agree to there as well.

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  9. Loved the post anne and it is so true..reading helps in lot ways.. And no harm in readimg romance novelsor accepting that u read them

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  10. Hi5 woman!! You just validated me and my love of romance. I read a lot and will admit that romance is my go to genre as a relaxation tool and mood lightener and I am so not apologizing to anyone.

    By the way, I am afraid to watch the newt episodes of Downton Abbey…after the accident! Sigh.

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    1. A good enough season, but I sense a slack in things. I wish I’d avoided the Christmas special at the end. That’s a few wasted hours of my time I won’t get back.

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  11. P.S. I meant 15th February V-Day sales***
    P.P.S. Don’t know why the URL turned out weird, but I hope you can open it!
    Also, where is that beautiful picture from (at the top?)

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  12. Hey Anne
    I must agree there is no shame in accepting our love for romance novels. In fact romance novels are my first pick and I am not shy to admit it although my favourite are mystery and murder stories. Who cares what others think!

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  13. True it is! read what ur heart says do what u desire to do. one shld not run to b a part of a bunch of wannabes who just love to follow what is in fashion n hype. I like literature b it romantic religious historical mystery fantasy or anything. Its whats written the way story is progressing not the genre n I will accept that I m a big time romance addict I love to read romantic novels. n I agree tp u word by word. Specially the lart where u pointed out discussing the book on WA Twitter Facebook coz its the new hype in town a new symbol of being up to date lol.

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  14. I second that wholeheartedly. Reading romantic fiction does in no way degrade one intellectually, on the other hand is similar to all those movies we unabashedly see which are glorified romances.

    They are that escape into fantasy, leaving one with a feel good factor most of the time. It has made me realize my husband is surprisingly quite romantic.

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  15. My view about this post is…
    I love reading fiction n thats all about it…
    I like reading suspense, thriller, romance, fantasy novels n even those magical stories n fables which i first read as a toddler or was read to me…
    So for me, i dont care what others think of me…
    As long as i enjoy reading the book, its worth it…
    Bt yes the reason i read those fairy love stories is i want a break from this monotonous normal life n give wings to my imagination for some time n indulge in those wonderful n ever so happiness filled dreams…
    I love to hope for happily ever aftr though i knw they may just have 1% possibility in real world…
    Bt for me i believe in, ‘U never know 🙂 ‘..

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  16. I agree with you completely ! When someone asks me what was the last book I read and if I say a romance novel, I get this dirty look as if I read something unholy ! When in undergrad, I read tons and tons of Mills and Boon as they were the only once circulating around hostel. Its such an easy read and it calms you and over a period of time you do learn of words which you would never use in a sentence otherwise.
    My book club girls always pick something so serious and I am like once in a while pick a trashy romance with pure smut 🙂 So this time I got to pick and I picked The Rosie Project. Awesome book if you want some light reading.
    And here I proudly say I love romance and smut 🙂

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  17. Sometimes a book just rocks my world, while others evoke the desire to toss it out with as much velocity as possible. Neither feeling have much to do with genre, but everything to do with plot lines and characters. To me, and ideally, all genres are equal; they simply cater to difference tastes and wants.

    Thus, it was disheartening to come to the realization that romance has been sidelined into a woman’s genre. And like many things that are labeled feminine, it is embraced with trepidation.

    I first noticed this at Barnes and Nobles. I like spending a lazy Sunday afternoon strolling through the book aisles and because I’m literally there for an unwelcomed amount of time, I end up observing people more than books. Both men and women stroll down the aisles labeled history, non-fiction and such with heads held high. They linger over the titles, often pulling out a book or two to skim through. No doubt incredibly proud to be so engrossed in their intellectual choice.

    Then I reach the romance aisle and something interesting always happen. Before that, let’s note that despite being one of the top selling genres, the romance aisle is nearly always empty. A woman looks around first, takes a little breath, dash towards that one book, grabs it and then she’s out! Why was this scene familiar? Oh yeah, because this is something I often see teenage girls do at Target when they’re getting something from the feminine hygiene aisle. Whatthefuckery. We have such a long way to go.

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  18. I have always loved to read. When I pick up a book at the library or buy one, I usually just select it because I find it interesting and not because it is on the bestseller list. I read all kinds of fiction – romance, mystery & suspense, comedy, but romance is usually the top of the list! I feel that there is so much more that you can enjoy reading in a romance novel in addition to the romance – humor, food, clothes, places, locations, relationships – many good authors describe some or all of these in very interesting and fun ways.
    Recently, I have been trying to find books written by Indian authors and that number has been increasing steadily in the past few years. I usually find at least one book by an Indian author when I visit my library (about once in a 2-3 months) and some of them are really good.

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