It’s a stupid question. But if you’re a romance reader you’ve probably been asked it at least once: Why do you read romance novels?
Maybe it was phrased differently:
“Why do you even like them?”
“How can you read those books?”
“Wouldn’t you rather read a real book?”
Sometimes they ask out of honest curiosity. Or maybe it’s suddenly thrown at you by some disdainful stranger on the bus who thinks they have the right to critique your reading choices even though you don’t know them from a hole in the ground. Plus it’s 5 pm on a work day, so you’re trying to decide if scalding their face with your tea is worth both losing your tea and getting arrested for assault.
Honestly, some people make that decision so difficult.
Well, you could tell that nosy question asker that life is squashing your dreams and you need a little you time in a fictional world where good people are actually rewarded with good lives. Then burst into tears (real or fake, your choice) until they scooch awkwardly down the bench and refuse to make eye contact.
Or you could refer them to this handy-dandy list of responses, complete with visual aids. Simply point them to the relevant examples (which range from honest to honestly-a-little-salty), and get back to your book!
10 Reasons Why Women Read Romance novels
1. Women read romance novels:
This response is particularly useful if the asker is trying to hit on you while simultaneously disparaging your reading selection—because everyone knows that’s so hot. *gag*
2. Women read romance novels because maybe there are some non-fictional good men still out there, who are respectful, loving, and kind, and romance novels help us hold out hope of finding one.
3. Women read romance novels because they couldn’t give a damn about finding a good man to love, but the woman of their dreams seems determined to stay there.
(I’m sorry, is Gal Godot NOT the woman of your dreams?)
4. Women read romance novels because they’re in a relationship, perfectly happy, and just like to read about other people suffering through the pangs of love.
And occasionally keep a running commentary on their relationship.
5. Women read romance novels because they like to see women presented on the page as intelligent, capable, and clever. Not sad, two-dimensional, and mostly dead for the sake of some guy’s plot progression or emotional transformation.
6. Women read romance novels because in romances there are no limits to what a woman can do or be—and romances encourage us to dream big. Want to be a princess? You can be a princess AND a talented future epidemiologist (A Princess by Default by Alyssa Cole). Want to swing a sword in Dynastic China? You can wield that blade like a pro (Butterfly Swords by Jeannie Lin).
Contrary to what you might have heard, “escapism” is NOT a dirty word.
7. Women read romances because romance novels are often unapologetically dramatic and sweepingly romantic. As one of the highest earning genres, with a long, distinguished history and a loyal readership, romance has nothing to “prove” to anyone. It can embrace its lineage of emotional fireworks and impassioned declarations with pride.
“Melodrama” is not a dirty word either.
8. Women read romances because, although sometimes they break our hearts,
they always put them back together.
9. Women read romances because romance is the most optimistic, hopeful genre in the market, to the point where its insistence on happy endings frequently needs to be defended from people who think cynicism is the same as realism.
10. Women read romance novels, hypothetical obnoxious stranger on the bus, because we want to, we enjoy them, and seriously? It’s none of your business.
But thank you for asking!
(Hopefully, now you’re sorry you did.)