by Lucy Marsden
I’ve just finished Smart Bitch Sarah Wendell’s latest book, Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels.
It’s not my intention to review the book here, but suffice it to say that it puts paid to the implicitly patronizing and slightly hysterical recent claims that romance readers are unable to distinguish between fantasy and reality in their personal relationships. With chapters like “We Know More Than a Few Good Men,” and “We Know That Happily-Ever-After Takes Work,” it’s an intelligent, hilarious, and uplifting testimony to the very real ways in which the genre helps its readers articulate and celebrate strong, loving relationships.
One of my favorite things in the book (and the point of this blog post, which I swear I am getting to any minute now), was author Robyn Carr’s quote when she was asked to comment on what people learn from reading romances:
“I think the antithesis of the question is more important—what do we learn from romance novels that we shouldn’t get over?”
And I thought to myself, “How fabulous is that?” Because for every genre out there, there is a way in which it says or celebrates something uniquely important about the human experience; a reason why it draws readers and writers that goes far beyond a need for escape and entertainment. Yet to greater or lesser degrees, most genre writers and readers have encountered criticism for their genre-love:
“You’re so smart. How can you read those trashy space-operas?”
“Do you think you might ever write a real book?”
And much, much worse.
So here and now, tell me what you love about writing or reading your favorite genre. Tell me what your genre says about being human that’s so important, the things that you wish people knew about how awesome it is, the ways in which it colors your world-view that you wouldn’t “get over,” even if you could.
Believe me, you’ll be in good company!