Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Why Do You Read Romance?

The other day I read a review where the reviewer struggled with rather or not to take a book seriously. The book was a sexy action-adventure. Okay. I confess, it was my latest book. I know I shouldn't read reviews, but I'm new enough that I can't resist. But it did get me to thinking.

Why do I read romance?  Should romances be taken seriously?

Ninety-nine percent of the books I read are romances. Craft books are the other one percent. Years ago, I use to read biographies of kings, queens and Hollywood actors, and a lot of general history books for a column I wrote for my chapter newsletter.

I know some people enjoy reading books that are thought provoking, maybe that was what the reviewer meant to say. Then the author has crossed the line over to literary, and they bore me terribly. I can tell you with all certainty that's not what I write. My books will never change the world or a person's life. I write to entertain. Period.

My book is successful to me if the reader continues to turn the pages, feels pleasure and heartbreak for my hero and heroine's dilemmas and overwhelming happiness at the end. And when she closes the book, I want her to wonder when will I have another one to be released? When will the other characters get their story told?

So the answer to the first question is that I read to entertain myself. The book should make me want to know what happens next and be surprised or/and satisfied with the result. And of course, all the stuff I mentioned in the paragraph above this one.

For the second question, to me, the only seriousness involved is how the hero and heroine are going to overcome their conflict, internal and external. If the author goes into detail of how to do something or make something, then it has crossed the line into a training manual and I'm most likely skipping over that part anyway.

What about you? Why do you read romance?

16 comments:

Heather said...

I love a happy ending. That is why I read romance. It takes a strong writer to keep my attention and make me worry about the characters when I know everything work out in the end. That is why I love romance - I still experience the highs and lows of the characters, but I am always left in a good place.

JoAnn said...

I'm with Heather. Happy Endings. Capital H. Capital E. If I want angst or horror or cruelty or brutality or disappointment or loss or pettiness or outrage or resentment, I watch CNN. I want struggle, yes, but a guaranteed happily ever after.

Chris Bailey said...

I read for entertainment. But anytime I enter another person's world view, I learn something. So maybe I don't read books that make good literary reading assignments. But I always pick up a nugget or two of information, or a way of looking at things that I can mull over. So there. And happy endings foster hope. Carla, I think you've made the world a better place.

Lexi said...

I read romances to escape and I love a happy ending! I don't like anything too angsty, although I love adventure. Like you, I don't enjoy literary fiction and I aim to entertain, not enlighten!

Carla Swafford said...

Me too, Heather. Sure I know that the romance will end happy, but I want to know how they got that way. :-)

Carla Swafford said...

Amen, JoAnn!

Carla Swafford said...

We all are such romantics, aren't we? LOL! Thanks, Lexi!

Rashda Khan said...

Hey Carla,

I have been in bad places in life (like most everyone else has) and books have been my salvation. I can assure you I didn't read "serious" books on philosophy, religion, history at those times...but adventures with magic and romance that allowed my respite and escape. So keep writing your stories, they do make a difference.

Louisa Cornell said...

I read romance to step into another world for a while. A world very different from my own. In this world other people's problems, faults, triumphs and tragedies make me forget about my own. It's cheaper than a shrink and less sweaty than a trip to the gym or a yoga class. For less than ten dollars I can live a fantasy, laugh, cry, sigh, travel and find the gold at the end of the rainbow - a happily ever after.

I don't need to read for education, edification or to improve my moral character. I went to college, I listen to classical music and I've read the Bible in English, Russian and German. That's all the erudition I need, thank you.

Give me love, laughter, adventure, butt kicking, hot kisses and guys in tight breeches or a kilt. That's a whole 'nuther kind of edification!

Carla Swafford said...

Escape? Yeah. That too, Rashda. Thanks!

Carla Swafford said...

You're so right, Chris. I do learn things though I have to say most aren't useful to me in real life. And that's okay. :-)

Carla Swafford said...

You go, girl! So right, Louisa.

Suzanne Johnson said...

Entertainment, definitely! When I do author Q&As on my blog, I always ask what book people have faked reading. Yep, always literary fiction. I think what the reading snobs don't realize is that those of us who write genre fiction grapple with the most important issues of identity, loss and love. What's more noble than that, and who cares what the industry calls it?

Cari Hislop said...

Depending on my mood, I might read for escape or to be cheered up, but always underneath there is this endless fascination with human relationships and how they develop chemically, psychologically, emotionally, socially or whatever. I love learning new things that help me understand other people as well as the difference between men and women and how each couple manages to overcome all the odds to make a go at finding their own version of happiness. I don't intentionally write stories with a message (those romances make me gag because they preach and I hate that), but I find my stories always have something to say (at least to me). I know Agatha Christie wasn't a romance writer per sey, but I think she was brilliant. So simple yet her 'detectives' are all masters of the art of relationships.
Most people probably never stop to think about Miss Marple and how she came to know so much about human nature, but she must have had an amazing life full of romance and heartache.

Carla Swafford said...

Suzanne, I've always wondered about that. Whenever people ask what is your favorite book, they come up with PRIDE & PREJUDICE or TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD something else written 50 years or more ago. Though I enjoyed/found interesting the movies, I never wanted and never plan to read them. Did I hear a few gasps out there?

Carla Swafford said...

Cari, Funny that you mentioned Miss Marple. I read a free one of Agatha Christie's for the first time a couple months ago. It was cute.