Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 | Author:

Candy Tan, of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, has done a couple of guest posts at Powell’sBooks.BLOG recently, including one titled “The Genre Ghetto’s Genre Ghetto: How I Got Here, and Why I Love It.” The whole blog post tickled me pink (I can actually hear my mother’s voice in my head as I type that phrase, and it’s creeping me out a little bit. But now that I’ve written it down, it’s too funny not to use. Sorry. End digression!), but I particularly liked Tan’s reasons for why she keeps reading romances even though the publication rate for the genre ensures that “the total amount of pure crap pumped out is higher than it tends to be in other genres, and they tend to be more shoddily edited.”

So why the hell do I still read them, and why am I so passionate about them?

Part of it’s because when they’re good — or when I find one that I enjoy; these two sets don’t always intersect — they’re incredible. They’re smart, they’re moving, they’re subversive, and they speak to the deepest bonding urges we have. Humans are social beasties, and romance novels, more than any other genre, explore the human experience of building intimate connections with each other.

There’s also no other genre I can think of in which female protagonists are so consistently victorious, and so consistently happy by the end. I’m not saying that this in and of itself makes romance novels good, but it’s certainly part of what makes them attractive, and it definitely sets them apart from any other genre out there.

And romance novels are where a lot of interesting, tangled issues about societal expectations and gender norms and heteronormativity and sex roles are not just elements of the story, they’re centerpieces to the conflict.

Tan’s reasons for liking romance are closely in line with my own, both as a reader and a writer. I like to write – and read! – romance and erotica because it’s sexy and it’s fun and there’s a frothy sort of pleasure in it that goes along nicely with hot bubble baths or staying in bed all morning, sure, but there are also richer, more subversive pleasures. There are fantastic challenges waiting for writers who want to really dig deep into our cultural notions about relationships and love and sex, and there’s a lot out there to love in the genre for readers who want to try out new ideas while remaining within a familiar framework.

Anyway, check out Tan’s blog post, and then you might like to read a later post where she recommends some specific titles. I’m jotting down a list of titles to look for next time I’m at the bookstore right now.

Category: Read This
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

Comments are closed.