Growing up we learn how to judge things. I learned from my parent’s example that reading was a good thing. I learned in high school to buy book covers if I wanted to avoid being teased for my choice of book. I didn’t read romances back then, I was a fantasy/ paranormal reader, but I got the distinct impression that romance novels were things to be ashamed of.
Fast forward to now. I’ve probably devoured hundreds of romance novels in the last ten years and I’ve set my sights on making my living by writing them. Before e-readers existed I would hide my reads behind a Thomas Kincaid needlepoint book cover when I rode the bus to work, or while in the break room. Then one day something changed. I don’t know what triggered it, but I was suddenly angry that some of my favorite books were clouded by shame in the eyes of the general public.
I left the book cover at home. I proudly held the book, scandalous lover cover facing out, and paraded down the bus isle to a set near the back from then on. I wanted people to see what I was reading. I felt free to be myself without a nagging voice telling me to hide my reading selection, a voice warning me that others would judge me poorly because I read bodice rippers and trashy romance.
The truth is I don’t view the romance novels I read as being bodice ripper or trashy romances. These books have taught me so many things that have nothing to do with sex. Romance novels are overflowing with lessons about love, relationships, understanding, forgiveness, and enduring hardships. This genre is so good that I have a hard time being sucked into the world of any other book that isn’t a romance novel.
What are your experiences? Are you trapped, or were you once trapped, in the same cultural shame?
Do you freely admit to your love of romance novels when at a party and someone outs you with an icebreaker saying you are an avid reader or bookworm?