Squawk Radio

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Amy on Reading Romance

Hello Squawkers! I’ve temporarily abandoned my role as a devoted Squawkee (n: one who comments on, discusses at, cavorts around, and worships at Squawk Radio) to take up the mantle of Guest Squawker (n: one who earns the right to Squawk through either talent or bribery). Given that as Squawkees we’ve been privileged to hear about the writing life and its attendant responsibilities from the lovely Squawk Radio ladies, I thought it would be appropriate for me to blog about the reader experience. Why are we all here anyway?!

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this topic, and the one conclusion that I keep coming to is that I read romance because I love to read. I also read nonfiction, poetry, the classics, philosophy, modern literature, thrillers, the back of cereal boxes, inflight magazines and US Weekly (but only in line at the market – I never purchase it outright. Never. I swear.) I spend a good portion of my life with my nose buried in a book – laughing or crying or just intent on understanding some small part of the human condition. I like to feel, to think, to escape, to enjoy, and when it comes down to it, I really only discriminate between that which is a “good” story and that which is a “bad” story. This isn’t a genre-specific designation; it is a metric of personal satisfaction with the story told. And when I think of my life as a reader, I like to think about it as a search for good stories that takes me down many different paths, some with dead ends, and others that end in gardens rich with tales waiting for discovery.

So, with all these paths to choose, why might I veer towards the paths marked “romance”? Why, when I have more than fifty books of all genres in my TBR pile, do I pick a romance to read? And I’m not talking about comparing covers and back cover blurbs or quotes from other authors; I’m speaking to the inherent qualities of a romance and what I, as a reader, know I’m getting from the book.

I spent some time on a flight the other day pondering this question, and came up with a personal Top 5 List (aka Five Reasons Why Amy Picks Up a Romance Novel): (1) Falling in love: the Good, the Bad and the Wonderful; (2) Heroes and Heroines; (3) The Escape Factor: Life Experiences except 100 times better; (4) Families and Friends; and, (5) Romance, Seduction, Sex. These five reasons can be further netted out to The Big One: I love to read stories about people falling in love. It is this beautiful, wonderful, magical moment in time that transcends the modern and the historical, and when portrayed in a good story, it is enjoyable and compelling and a perfect escape from the day-to-day of powerpoint presentations, conference calls, budgets, too-tight jeans, too-loose shirts, frayed bras, late dinners and early mornings.

In summary ladies, for me, Reading Romance is part and parcel of reading itself. Good Stories are not the sole purview of any one genre; they are all around us, begging to be read. So don’t be shy, tell us what makes it a Good Story for you? What do you look for in a book? Why do you read romance or any other genre of literature?
Elizabeth Bevarly, 6:58 AM