My love of reading really took shape when I discovered romance novels. My whole life I liked books and reading but my passion really began to form when I was in high school and read my first romance novel. I just absolutely loved the happy ending. And all through the next four years of high school when I was that awkward teenager who couldn’t seem to figure out who she was, I was able to take comfort in the knowledge that each and every romance novel I picked up, the heroine would be beautiful and there would be a man who loves her more than anything else in the world and they would be happy together.
And all through high school and in college, I met many people who would snicker when I told them I liked to read romance novels. I was told on various occasions that I was reading “trash” or “smut.” And I will admit, I was embarrassed. Because I was treated in a way that made me believe I should be embarrassed for the books I liked to read. And in all honesty, I liked romance novels that had a lot of emotional tension in them, not necessarily a lot of sex. In fact, one of my absolute favorite romance novelists is Kristan Higgins and her books take more of a “fade to black” approach in which the hero and heroine start getting down to business and then it pretty much moves on to the next scene. I would try to defend myself, saying that romance novels aren’t “porn” or “smut,” that they’re like romance comedies where there is a sex scene or two but its mostly about the feelings and the love story. I would still get the wary looks and the continued snickers so I would just drop the topic and talk about something else.
But really, what reason did I have to be embarrassed? I loved reading. And I loved reading more than romance novels, but even now romance novels tend to be my genre of choice in most cases. I love being able to escape to Victorian England or to another planet even and fall in love time and again. Romance novels are what introduced me to my love of reading, and I have no reason to be embarrassed. Who cares if there’s a half naked man on the cover? Does that really make you an inferior person for wanting to read it? No, it doesn’t. Does it make you less smart than people who read classics or what is known as “great literature”? Hell no. Whether you love graphic novels, romance novels, young adult novels or non-fiction, you have no reason to be embarrassed. Scream you’re love of reading from the rooftops.
Over the last few months I’ve read a lot of articles from various sources about not being embarrassed about the books you like to read. If you’re interested, below are a few of articles that I enjoyed.
Why Smart Women Read Romance Novels by Anne Browning Walker
No, Adults Should NOT be embarrassed to read Young Adult books by Heather Hogan
Stop Apologizing For What You Like to Read by Brenna Clarke Gray