The Argument for Romance Novels
I am a voracious reader. I read super fast, so i easily get through a book every other day. And I’m an avid consumer of romance novels. Yes, they follow a formula and you can tell there will be a happily ever after for the main characters in spite of trial and tribulation. The hero and heroine fall under certain categories like alpha male, or older grump, meets sunshine female or spunky klutz, but in each book, they also have their own quirks. I like the predictability of romance novels and I’m interested to see how each author takes their characters with unique personalities to the finish line. And the sex! The best of them write some super steamy, occasionally kinky, sex scenes.
One of the few classes I remember taking in college was Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature with Janice Radway. Her theory was that romance novels were women’s version of pornography. Romance novels explore themes of love, relationships, and personal growth. They both reflect the current zeitgeist (atmosphere) and can have a significant impact on the future by reflecting and shaping the reader’s cultural attitudes and perceptions of love and romance. They provide an idealized image of gender polarity that works.
The Popularity of Romance novels
According to Wordrated, a non-commercial, international research data and analytics group.
- Romance novels generate over $1.44 billion in revenue, making romance the highest-earning genre of fiction.
- Romance reached over 39 million printed units sold over the last 12 months as of May 2023.
- Romance sales grew by 52% compared to the 12 months ending May 2022, and this has been the third consecutive year with positive growth in romance novel sales in printed format.
- Sales of romance novels more than doubled compared to 2021 figures (12 months ending May 2021).
- Over 33% of books sold in mass-market paperback format were romance novels
Something for Everyone
Most people who have never read a romance novel picture the old school Regency Romance, filled with swooning and heaving bosoms. Today’s romance novels encompass a wide range of sub genres, from historical romance to contemporary, paranormal, queer and kinky romance. This diversity allows publishers to cater to a broad and varied audience. And although the falling in love bit is the meat of the story, many romance novels also feature a personal growth journey for the main characters. The themes of recognizing that they are lovable for instance, or dissolving the walls they have put up to letting someone get close to them. Can you relate?
Why Men Should Read Romance Novels
Specifically why should more men read romance novels? Because it can give you a peek into the longing and desire of women. Many men complain to me that they don’t know what women want. They don’t understand why they aren’t getting responses to their pings on dating apps. Usually it’s because they are using lines and an approach that don’t work for them. The heroes in romance novels, yes, I know they are ridiculously perfect. Chiseled abs, and charming scruff. (And why are they always called Chase, or Knox, or Flint? Never a Bruce or a Joe.) But they take a journey of their own into being willing to be more emotionally vulnerable. Perhaps you will recognize yourself in their struggle to let go of past rejection or feelings of inadequacy that are not talked about in, say, a spy thriller. There are lots of sports romances too
Fact — 39 million units sold! And some of those are library books. The sheer volume of this industry tells me that women are responding to these idealized versions of relationship. They long for this kind of connection. You might not get a six-pack of abs overnight, but you can get reasonably fit. And make sure you have nice underwear!
Here are some of the themes present in these novels. You can be this kind of man.
- He always has her back, often in spite of himself
- The hero usually takes care of people – family, his town, or his buddies
- And he finds a way to take care of her while also encouraging her independence
- He believes in her
- He thinks she’s gorgeous and he wants her, but doesn’t want her to know how much
- He lets her set the pace
- He is willing to grow or change for her (usually by forgiving himself or someone else)
- Her pleasure in bed always comes first
- He is willing to grow as a man and show his feelings
Using Romance Novels to Reinvigorate Your Relationship
Okay, I think every should read romance novels. Once either or you finds a book that lights you up, you can share it with your partner, perhaps read parts of it to each other as a bedtime story. This is a wonderful bonding activity, and can start conversations about what you would enjoy in bed. You can get ideas for things to try. For women, they are a wonderful place to find turn-on that you can then bring to your partner.
I just started a page to recommend books I like. Check it out here.
And get ready for the October free challenge for women on Reinvigorating Your Relationship. Details coming soon!