Embracing Romance

In our lead up to Bookstore Romance Day on Saturday, August 20, we are highlighting Romance readers, authors, and recommendations.  Our guest bloggers this week are booksellers Victoria and Katie sharing with us why they each read Romance. If you want some great Romance recommendations, swing by and talk to them!

Why Victoria reads Romance 

It all started when I discovered my mother enjoyed reading “SMUT.” This was back when Fifty Shades of Grey sold out like crazy at almost every retail outlet that carried a copy. My mother had purchased every copy of the Fifty Shades series in Spanish, and that woman read the entire series in less than a week. This was so bizarre to me because I had never seen my mother read once in my life. So when I saw that tiny woman cuddled up on our couch, flipping through every page with a massive smile on her face, I knew I had to jump on the bandwagon… yes, the E.L. James bandwagon. My next visit to the bookstore consisted of buying every book within the Fifty Shades Series. And just like my mother, I devoured the entire series in less than a week. They were not my favorite books and could have been written better, but they were pretty entertaining, hence why I flew through the books so fast. And that is how my love for romance began. 

I knew I was a sucker for romance when I always found myself “blindly” walking toward the romance section at every bookstore. Believe it or not, E.L. James led me to Jane Austen, E.E. Cummings, Josie Silver, Anaïs Nin, Sarah J. Maas, Tessa Bailey, and so on. But what is it that I love about romance? The thing about reading romance is that my heart falls in love along with the characters. I am a sucker for love; the door is always open for it. It’s enticing, it’s romantic, and it’s complicated. The best part about reading romance is witnessing a complex yet beautiful love story unfold between two parties (or more) from afar. You know that our characters are deeply in love with one another, yet they have no idea.  When our main character is crying on the floor because they feel as if this love between them and their person of interest is unrequited, I (the reader) am shouting from another dimension (reality), “OH THEY LOVE YOU, OH TRUST ME THEY DO! IF YOU ONLY KNEW!” And when they finally share their first kiss, you throw your book across the room and jump all over the place because you waited for 350 pages for them to FINALLY get to this point. 

But I don’t just read romance for the emotions that it brings. Romance receives backlash thanks to our old favorite friend, misogyny. For some reason, society believes that romance gives women false expectations of how romantic relationships should be. First off, romance isn’t just for women. It’s for everyone, including straight cis men, and romance does not give us false expectations about romantic relationships. It demonstrates to us HOW romantic relationships should be. There are way too many people in this world settling down for far way less. We all deserve a love that is full of mutual respect. The thing is, though, what is so wrong with wanting to read romance? I get that romance can be cheesy and too quirky at times. But there is so much more to this genre.

Romance is a diverse world that explores various unique scenarios that many readers can learn from or relate to. Romance teaches us about healthy boundaries and healthy relationships. It tells us that no one is perfect and everyone is bound to make mistakes because we are all human at the end of the day. It teaches us about empathy, forgiveness, self-love, and the beauty of letting go of something or someone that was never meant to be yours. Romance doesn’t always have to be about boy meets girl. Romance doesn’t always have to include sex, either. But you know what romance is all about? Happy endings. Because we live in a world that is expected to break our hearts, we all deserve to read a book where that will never happen, and a happy ending is waiting for us at the end. 

Why Katie reads Romance

If I am being totally honest, up until a little over a year ago, I was a romance hater. Don’t get me wrong, I heartily enjoyed romance within the books I read but only as long as it was a side plot. I had an internalized bias against any book that fell into the romance category, regardless if it was contemporary, dark, or historical, unless it had some sort of ‘fantastical’ element. My theory is that this was a result of internalized misogyny making me believe that romance books were ‘lesser’ than or something shameful because they were often dubbed as “girly”. 

I felt this way until April of 2021, when my life was so overwhelmingly depressing that I was unable to read a book unless I knew I was guaranteed a happy ending and minimal strife. I had been seeing more and more romance recommendations on my TikTok For You Page and decided to give some a shot. I really had nothing to lose and didn’t think much of it. Thus my addiction began. Since then I would say 60% of the books I’ve read have been romance (which honestly is a pretty conservative estimate).    

As it turns out, I’m a total sap. I’ll often find myself cheesing at the actions of a character and have the very sobering realization that I’m grinning and kicking my feet to words on paper (which is lowkey embarrassing). But I just love love. In this very scary and overwhelming world, love is the light at the end of the tunnel. It makes the bad days a little less bleak and I now cherish the beautiful escape romance books offer us all. 

Victoria’s picks

Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Erotic Poems by E.E. Cummings

The Flatshare by Beth O'Realy

The Girl He used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

Katie's picks

It Happened One Summer duology by Tessa Bailey

Brush with Love by Mazey Eddings

Archer's Voice by Mia Sheridan

Kiss Quotient Trilogy by Helen Hoang

Brown Sisters Trilogy by Talia Hibbert

Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Beach Read & Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Set On You by Amy Lea

Bromance Book Club series by Lyssa Kay Adams

Fix Her Up trilogy by Tessa Bailey

Bridgerton books by Julia Quinn

Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren