Have you ever been in the line at the bookstore, and the patron in line beside looks down at the books in your hands, and their eyes suddenly go wide, and they give you that look... if your're a romance reader you know the look I'm talking about... the look that says OH MY SHE'S A SINNER!! Then your stuck there beside that person, whom you are sure is judging you just by the covers of the books in your hands, and you begin to get irritated, not because they are judging you, but more so judging a genre that you love reading. They see the cover, see a couple embracing, or someone dressed provocatively and they assume the story inside is filthy and revolves solely around sex.
They have this preconceived notion that either the story is filled with sexual content, or it's a fluffy romance story that fills readers heads with unrealistic expectations of what love should be. Not realizing the authors who write these stories do their research, and while yes there maybe some sexual content (all part of life people!), there is also a story about two people who have to overcome various challenges to find their happily ever after. They often times base their stories about real life situations, or challenges that effect people in their everyday lives, such as illnesses, PTSD, death, divorce, etc. They are usually inspired by the people they see around them, and want to share their stories, sometimes even interviewing these people to make sure they get things told as accurately as possible. On occasion they even donate some of the proceeds from their stories to charities that help the people they wrote about or a cause that may have inspired the story to begin with. I would like to think that their intent for telling these stories is not only to warm the readers heart, but to also inspire them, lift their spirits, educate them, and give them a little escape from whatever reality they might find themselves in.
I'm not going to lie, when someone asks what I'm reading or what I do and I tell them I am a romance reader, reviewer, and blogger, and they give me that look, it irritates me, but instead of getting upset with them, I often try to find a way to enlighten them. Sometimes my words go wasted on deaf ears, but once in a while I see a spark of interest cross their face, and I hope that means they will put their phobia aside for just a second and pick up a romance book. I know I am not going to change the minds of everyone, there are still going to be those people who just aren't comfortable with embracing that side of themselves or opening their minds to it, but if I can find to way to encourage at least one person to pick-up a romance book I will feel like I have succeeded.
So my point with this little rant post is...
Before you look down at the books in the hands of the person beside you in line, and instantly decide their a dirty bird, I encourage you to ask them what the book is about. Or even make a pass through the romance aisle sometime, pick-up a book and read the synopsis, read the first chapter if you feel inclined, and see just what you are missing out on.