Is it just me, or does there seem to be a glut of these articles lately, lamenting the reputation of romance in pop culture and the reception of the genre by mainstream critics? I’m a little confused. Do they actually EXPECT to be taken seriously? Isn’t enough to just sell more copies than everyone else and leave it at that? It seems a bit like McDonald’s complaining that food critics don’t visit often enough. Why invite disaster into your home?
Readers apparently feel a little embarrassed about romance novels, too. An editor at Harlequin told me that in the Bible Belt, inspiration and romance are the bestsellers — strange bedfellows indeed. “They buy their inspiration at the bookstore, and they order their romance novels online.”
In a sense, romance still labors under the burden that used to weigh on all fiction. Puritan sermons in the 17th century were spiked with warnings about reading novels. Thomas Jefferson railed against novels, too, claiming they were “a great obstacle to good education…a poison [that] infects the mind. The result is a bloated imagination, sickly judgment, and disgust towards all the real businesses of life.”