Down with Romance Novels

I despise romance novels. You know the ones where the cover art has some shirtless Fabio looking flamer holding some half dressed floozy in his arms, preferably over some cliff looking over the ocean, both of their hair is windswept, and its usually depicted during a sunset. Yes, those horrible books. But my hatred is not just reserved for those outlandish titles alone, Nicholas Sparks I'm looking your way---Damn you and your Notebook. I blame these so-called "romance" novels for the high failure rate of marriages/relationships in this country.

Its not that I don't believe in love or romance but I think these books put an extraordinary extraterrestrial-high level of standards that girls expect their boyfriends/spouses to live up to. I really don't think that these books preach the morals and virtues of what love really is anyways.
Case in point, have you ever read any of the titles of these books? They've become quite the topic of discussion at work whenever we come across them. Its like MadLibs for trashy books: "The [insert adjective] woman finds true love with a [insert foreign ethnicity] millionaire and move away to [insert exotic location]."
Really, these types of books are cookie cutter stories. They're all the same, once you've read A Scandalous Mistress I really don't see the need to read His Lady Mistress. Take one lonely, loveless woman, one rich bastard, and an exotic locale and there you go.

Females always hope for the day to find some foreign bazilliionaire who will sweep them off their feet and take them to some far away mansion. Honestly, do you really think the chances of that are worth holding out for? Don't you think that said rich guy would want to find a rich lady instead of someone looking to marry for just the money? If that did happen, all you would be is another one of his "bought possession s," which could ultimately be replaced with the snap of his fingers and his man servant has his next wife to be flying in on his G-5. If anything these books espouse the complete opposite of what love is. Is it really romantic if some guy were to make you his "mistress?" I suppose just as long as the guy was rich everything would work out. Before I turn this into something sentimental and lose my sarcastic edge: love is about understanding, accepting and working together through the ups and downs on each others flaws and insecurities. Love is not dependent on money alone --- Do you think someone who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry would sweep a high school dropout off their feet and turn out to live happily ever after?

On a few occasions I've encountered husbands who are checking these books, either in or out, for their wives and when I look at the covers and look at their faces, there is a look of sad resignation, like a part of their soul died with each romance novel their wife read. One guy commented to me, "There are all these books around (waves his arm toward the vast expanse of paper bound knowledge) and my wife chooses to read these. I asked her if she wanted me to pick up a mystery book for her, 'no,' she said she'll stick with these [looks with great disdain at the handful of romance books]." He sighed heavily and headed towards the exit with this new delivery of literary trash for his wife to read. He walked away with his head hung low and his shoulders slumped, and I knew he just died inside.

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First, I'm going to recommend reading Janice Radway's "Reading the Romance," because it explains anything I'm about to say much better then I will. I used to believe as you do. Radway made me question my thoughts that it was all anti-feminist trash with some smut for bored middle-aged women. Now, I actually read a few occasionally because I've been converted through a greater deal of study.

Romance writers are not the enemy. Many of them ::gasp:: know what a reference librarian is for and how to thank them in the opening credits to their book. I don't need respect on this job, but it's a nice perk. The readers tend to plow through these books at a rapid clip making them frequent patrons. They give recommendations to friends, converting them to the ebb and flow of a public library system. Since the books tend to wear quickly, they make great additions to a Friends section for fundraising. Also? The detective novels, fantasy, hipster...I mean "contemporary" fiction, and even the sci-fi can be just as formulaic. I don't give a damn so long as there are pages turning and happy readers. People don't become S&M enthusiasts because they go see an Mapplethorpe exhibition, so saying that these books automatically give the readers the wrong impressions just by reading them is an insult made from ignorance.

The man can die all he wants to because he's wasting his goddamn time. When his wife gets done taking her little fictional vacation the odds are he's going to be rewarded even if he's not putting two and two together about mentally relaxed wife generally equals more sex. Sure, I wouldn't have my husband go retrieve any of my books, but that's my house. If that guy doesn't want to be seen with romance novel, might I suggest he get his behind in the kitchen and do dishes while his wife goes and picks them up? Oh yeah, and what kind of asshole makes a choice about what's "better" for his wife to read? If I did that with my husband's comics I would have deserved to be out on my butt. Instead, I tried out his "kid" material and now I'm headed for permanent YA-dom because he has really good taste as it turns out.

I'm not into the Fabio covers either, (my husband is way more hot) but just because it's good to know how to make book recommendation for just about every taste I now try to make it a point to read one of these things every three months or so - even the Christian teen romance, which I can assure you makes the Fabio covers look good as a genre. Occasionally, I find one that's even good.

Good luck, man