Coffee Talk - Genre Experts Weigh in on Why We Still Need Romance Novels

The popularity surrounding the romance genre in the past few years has made for some interesting reactions from readers and nonreaders alike. Some have made outlandish claims that the genre was hurting women's overall well-being or that the books weren't true literature. But each poorly researched article with such arguments has been refuted time and time again with detailed evidence and studies proving the opposite. 

Unfortunately, that doesn't always deter a select few from their mission of denouncing the genre as unworthy of the literature name. Over the years, we've all come up with our personal retorts, but it's worth seeing how those within in the industry pinpoint its benefits, defend its legitimacy, and silence the critics, just in case you need more ammo. 

In 2012, USA Today interviewed several romance authors, asking their personal opinion on why they felt their genre of choice needed to stay strong. One of them was Debbie Macomber, author of dozens of best selling romance novels, four of which have been made into movies. She said we need romances for the same reason we need any other genre of book—they're entertaining, educational, offer an escape from reality, and enrich our lives.

"These are books that highlight the very best of what it means to be human," she explained. "Stories that speak of honor and sacrifice, of selflessness and love. We all need to be loved, to feel that we belong, and that's what romance novels give us. The sense of being loved."

In the same article, Teresa Medeiros, author of The Pleasure of Your Kiss and Yours Until Dawn, argued that the genre can give readers a better understanding of their partners. 

"I've always said men should study romance novels to find out how women think and what they want, both during the courtship phase and in a lifelong partner," Medeiros said. "Even the geekiest of guys could get the girl if he read every romance novel that came out in any given month."

Retailer Adam & Eve has further explored the beneficial aspects of the genre, suggesting that romance novels, more so than others, help readers let go of their inhibitions. They inspire readers to try anything from new date ideas to exciting positions—things they may have otherwise been too hesitant to explore. With each book, their eyes are open to a new world of opportunities that can better their sex life and relationships, while also granting them a more sex-positive viewpoint.

Author and romance novel advocate Bobbi Dumas is in agreement with all of the aforementioned responses, but she explains her reasoning with a little more fire. In a post for NPR, she stated that she's tired of apologizing for her love of romance. Instead, she takes an almost feministic approach, arguing that women everywhere should feel proud of the industry. It's one of the few of its kind that's heavily dominated and influenced by women, and it's widely successful. 

"In romance, we are the creators, the intended audience and the receptive consumer, showing our appreciation through astronomical sales," she writes. "Female writers writing for female readers about traditionally female interests."

There may always be nay-sayers out there, questioning whether romance novels are legitimate literature. Thankfully, there are many reasons why the genre is undoubtably here to stay. 

If you happen to find yourself in a situation where you need a quick response to one such nay-sayer however, personally I like approaching those people in the same way that Bustle writer Rebecca Jane Stokes does: "I love romance novels. Lame? Don’t care. I have not spent 31 sometimes-agonizing years on this planet to be embarrassed about the things that bring me truly, unadulterated joy." 

Well said, Stokes. Well said.

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