Ok. This one needs some explanation. This is supposed to be a picture of me reading on my iPad. I don’t think it reads to clearly on its own, but now that I’ve told you, you see it, don’t you?
A few years ago I started thinking about romance novels as a feminist issue. They are these books that are derided and put down, but at the same time, they are best sellers! I decided to see what the deal was, and I got totally hooked on them.
Here’s what I wrote over at On The Rag Mag back in 2012:
I have a confession to make, I’ve been reading some TRASHY books.
I mean, the kind that actually qualify for the term guilty pleasures.
I don’t even remember where it all started, but I was curious about that genre known as the Romance Novel.
I was wondering if the Romance Novel is like country music, you know, the easy target of the cool and hip.
Something to say you hate, so derided and looked down upon that the general hatred of it can cause perfect strangers to bond.
Well, I love a LOT of country music, so I figured, it may stand to reason that I just might enjoy myself a bit of that Romance Novel stuff too.
I started with this site: http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com/ They have a book out about Romance Novels called Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels I got it from the library and I was immediately in love with the ladies who wrote the book. It is seriously a fabulous read in its own right, but I also found some good starting point suggestions from this book and their website and I was off.
I read one, then two, then three books. I can’t say that I loved them, but I didn’t hate them either.
I talked to other friends of mine and found out they have been reading trashy books all this time! I had no idea. So a few friends and I started a book club called Drinkin’ and No Thinkin’. A group dedicated to only the best of trashy books. So far we have read a zombie romance novel and a ghost romance novel. It’s FAB! We accidentally read a Christian romance novel, which was fun in a whoooole other way. I will have to write a review of it someday.
I have read a LOT more of these books since 2012. I have tried to stick to the ones that grace the top 100 lists (another great list here) or that have high ratings on Good Reads, but occasionally I have veered off course and read one that made me really pissed off.
Still though, no book has made me as mad or as uncomfortable as the reception that these books receive. I truly do believe it’s a feminist issue, because the majority of these books are written by women FOR women. I don’t think that mystery novels receive the same kind of criticism and I have to think that’s because they are not targeted solely to women. Because let’s be honest, both are just as formulaic and pulpy.
But to focus on the positive, I really do love these “trashy books.” There are so many sub-genres to read from. I have read steam punk novels, historical novels, contemporary, mysteries, and yes, even that Christian novel that all fall under the genre of Romance. Many are formulaic, but there is comfort knowing where you are going, and just enjoying the journey.
I know it’s not cool to say it, but knowing that things will be resolved and in a positive way at the end of a book has been a big plus for me in my darkest days. I have been extra sensitive to violence and sadness on television & in books, and having a happy resolution has been very comforting to me. I don’t see myself ending my relationship with Trashy books anytime soon, so if you have any recommendations, send ’em my way!