Romance Novel Week
I love books. I practically grew up in a bookstore (Borders, RIP) where my mom worked. And now I spend a lot of time at my local library, where she’s been working since the bookstore closed. I read and write- hell, I breathe words- and it’s all very good to me. I enjoy a variety of genres: adventure, history, drama, dystopia, fantasy…
But if there is one genre I rarely, if ever, can stomach would be romance. Okay…
I can see the appeal. Hot men who cater to your every whim, beautiful women with lives more complicated than yours, sensual details… I see the appeal. I see why it’s a lucrative genre. But that doesn’t make it good.
Books should make you think. Not necessarily a giant analysis of humanity or life’s meaning, but you should feel some emotion. You should be using your brain to comprehend and relate to the characters and their actions. You should laugh, cry, or feel relaxed by the descriptions and the words. Books should leave some kind of a mark on you.
Now I don’t hate all romance novels. Duh. I like Jane Austen, who wrote her fair share of romance and pioneered the genre. I like Nicola Yoon; she’s so unique and totally revolutionized my perspective on love. And I like romance included in a book (most, if not all of my fave novels, include some love story). But the general stuff I see- the cheesy, mass produced little novels sold in grocery stores, the Danielle Steele novels, the bodice ripper tales, Nicholas Sparks, Sarah Dessen books (which aren’t terrible; to be fair, I haven’t read or picked one up in a long time, but I remember not liking them), and, God Forbid, Twilight and 50 Shades…
Ok, I might sound very harsh and condescending here. Which is why I’m forcing myself to read a variety of romance novels from the library to examine the genre and try maybe to get a clearer opinion of it. So far… I’m meh.
Book of the Day
I’m (re)reading Where the Heart Is by Billie Letts. It’s an interesting concept about a pregnant, homeless teenage girl who begins living in a Walmart after her deadbeat boyfriend dumps her. She gives birth in the store and makes national news and begins a new life in the friendly small town, where she finds new love and learns what home really means.
For such a corny title, it actually has a lot going for it. There’s loneliness, fear, single moms, abuse, failed dreams, etc. The writing isn’t bad, but it isn’t good; it’s quirky and surreal that it made me laugh a little. Like Letts’s chapter long description of how Novalee (the protagonist) needs to pee…that’s funny but totally weird. Unfortunately, it’s a double edged sword when it comes to describing racialized characters, like black photographer Moses and N. American Benny, in odd, rather fetishistic ways. Also, the romance feels rather dull; I’m reading it more for the friendship between Lexie, Novalee’s friend who had five kids by four different men, and Novalee bc of the interesting examination Letts gives to single moms.
Does it have potential? Definitely
Is it well done? Kinda, kinda not
Is it groundbreaking? Def. not
Does it make you think? Yeah, it did. There’s a lot of missed and overused opportunities along w/ some stuff done quite originally.
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.