Reading Widely (or Wildly)

I've read seven romance novels in the past two weeks.  They aren't something I normally reach for but they were lying around the apartment (in that box full of books I purchased for a dollar).

After my experience in the land of licking and lace, I can tell you the novels that caught my attention had to have MORE than smoldering glances, troubled pasts and misunderstandings.  If the passion erupts as zombies rise or a murder mystery is afoot, I'm much more content with the love.

And that's really too bad because, from a writer's standpoint, romance is a great genre to study because of the complex (if done well) emotional push-and-pull between characters.  You have (in a good romance novel) nearly every single emotion at one time or another playing out, sometimes several at once.  You can see what works and what doesn't.

But the emotion can ruin your story.  Gloss over too much and your characters lie flat.  Give too much emotion and they walk around in a constant state of severe anger, arousal, etc.  Many current love stories fall into the latter, vintage romance the former.

Current romance has more graphic sex, too, which can be fun if someone is uncomfortable.  And you KNOW when an author is uncomfortable with their characters' intimate moments because they hide behind throbbing love tools and swampy tunnels.  (At least, I HOPE that's the reason behind those passages of sadistic eye-bleed.)  If you can't write a good sex scene, close the door on them while they finally give in to that "geyser of intense, sweet passion".

What are your favorite romance novels (not mixed with any other genre)?  What genres do you have trouble reading?


  1. I've only read a few modern romance novels. It's not a genre that I particularly like to read, but you're right about the aspect of character study. I've actually enjoyed the experience of reading the romance that I've read, but it's kind of like eating sweets or junk food for me.

    I tend to lean toward non-fiction or literary fiction. Light escape is fun, but I also like substance and finishing a book feeling as though I've learned something or been enriched--you know, in an educational sort of way. Snobbish in a sense, but partly the fault of college education? Not that this is a bad thing either.

    Tossing It Out

    1. It depends on the nonfiction for me. If it feels like reading a textbook, I put it away (maybe it's my LACK of college education).
      Even "mainstream" fiction can be profound or teach you things.

      I try to read as widely as possible, just like I listen to as many types of music as possible. Exposing myself to as many different sources of knowledge and inspiration can only be beneficial.

    2. I agree about dull dry textbook style writing. I would rather a non-fiction be somewhat informally written with a clear story, understandable examples, or a style that is comfortable to read. Most of the books I've not been able to finish have been boring non-fiction. I don't think I've ever just given up on a fiction because I want to see how it ends.

      And I agree about wide reading. I'm the same way for the most part. I do like variety.

      Tossing It Out