Books are the best. Truly. Better than wine. Better than running water. Aside from my family, there is nothing I love more than reading. My bookshelf is stuffed with everything from Chemistry textbooks & Sociology journals to Berenstain Bears picture books. My e-reader is jam-packed with my favourite Urban Fantasy & Romance series. As a shy, socially awkward introvert, meeting a fellow book lover is practically a transcendent experience. Books teach us so much – from new languages to DIY plumbing, empathy or self-confidence – there is nothing we can’t learn from the right book.
I’ve noticed a lot of folks on social media talking today about the books that have changed their lives after a single read. I doubt there is anyone who loves books that couldn’t point to that *one* book that forever changed the lens through which they view the world (for me it’s Frank Herbert’s Dune and Carol Shields’ Unless). However, I want to make a case for the everyday books that don’t make your head spin and shake the foundations of your beliefs. Instead, I want to celebrate all the so-called ‘forgettable’ books I’ve glommed over years without needing to debrief and decompress afterward.
A lot of romance readers are super-readers, consuming more books in a month than most people read in a lifetime. Before having kids, I easily read over 250 books a year. This high level of consumption is just one of the reasons the romance genre is denigrated. There’s a pervasive assumption that ‘formulaic’ romance novels can’t be in any way profound and therefore are less worthy than other literature.
This is, of course, utter bullsh*t.
Like all genres, there are romance novels that can change your life, and ones that simply entertain you for a few hours. The thing is, even the ‘fluffy’ books that I inhale faster than a plate of brownies have changed my life for the better. These books mean I can escape the real world where women’s emotions and desires are looked down upon and immerse myself in a world where they are constantly celebrated. Where love is a valuable priority. I experience different cultures, careers, personalities and emotions. I surround myself with adventure, opportunity, and happy endings. This has had a huge impact on my sense of self-worth and my ability to empathize with others.
While it’s easy dismiss a lot of romance novels as forgettable, their collective impact on me and probably millions of other readers around the world, is is anything but.