In Defense of the Romance Novel

An enthusiast explains why reading romance can be healthy

by Justine Jane Taft
Julia Freeman-Woolpert, USA

The other day I was channel-surfing when I came across Spongebob. So of course I stopped to watch. Imagine my surprise when Squidward was shown reading a romance novel and lamenting the unrealistic expectations that it gave him. At first I was highly entertained by the scene, but the more I thought about it, the more I was saddened by their portrayal of romance novels.

As a romance novel enthusiast, and an intern in the romance novel industry, it’s hard to hear people’s misconceptions of the romance genre. When we say ‘romance novel’, people often think of covers with beautiful women looking alluring with beautiful men who look good enough to eat. ‘Romance’ gets categorized as a fantasy, and unrealistic. For some of us this is a happy indulgence, and for others it is a dirty little secret on your bookshelf.

However, romance novels come in a much broader range of styles, and can go beyond the mass-market paperbacks peaking out at us from the corner store, or airport kiosk. For example Jane Austen’s novels are beautifully written romances, which are widely respected as great literary works. Literary or not they are still romances and ones that many people love.

The reality is that there is a romance novel for everyone. Whether you like the erotic novels, or the classic literary works, sci-fi or mystery novels with romantic subplots, no matter what your preference you can find a romance.

Ryan Day, USA

But why should you read them? Do they truly provide any benefit? The answer is yes. Why? Here are my three reasons.

1. Romance novels feed our imaginations and give the promise of ‘happily-ever-after’.

This promise can give you a more positive outlook on life. If you can believe in a happily-ever-after, you can find the strength and courage to get through the everyday mundane things that pull you down, and find the motivation to push through life’s truly trying times.

2. Instant Upper

Romance novels can help you in the long-term by improving your overall outlook. But you can also get an instant happy feeling when reading a romance novel. You can start a romance novel in a bad mood, but by the end you cannot help but feel a better (the exception being that if you’re feeling particularly down about being single a romance novel may just cause you to lament your single status further).

3. Erotic romance novels can be a great way to awaken your sexuality.

An erotic romance novel can be a great stimulus for personal gratification. Romance novels can also help you explore parts of your sexuality you may be too cautious to try in real life. When reading a romance novel you can indulge in any fantasy: a one-night stand with a handsome business man or be rescued from outlaws by a rough cowboy and make love under the stars. You can fall in love and marry the small town sheriff or find marital bliss with the prince of a small-fictional country, and every marriage within your imagination comes with mind-blowing intimacy, both physical and emotional.

Whether you want an aloof-yet-loving Mr. Darcy, or a rough and ragged sweetheart of a cowboy, if you look you will find that romance novels can bring joy and happiness into your life.

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