We all like a happy ending, don’t we? So why is it that because we (usually women) enjoy happy movies or books with a feel good romance where the characters end up together, we are automatically put into a category of lonely, single, cat lady? Well, it’s because for many years society has put us in that category and stereotyped the readers of romance fiction as such: single, lonely, cat lady. According to a post by author Maya Rodale women are the top readers of romance fiction (84%) but that doesn’t mean all 84% are single, lonely, cat ladies. In her post she crushes the reasons why these stereotypes are inadequate.
The question remains though, why do readers (particularly women) read fiction? But how about we dig a little deeper. Why do readers (particularly women again) read ROMANCE fiction is the question I am most intrigued about. I love the idea of a good romance story, whether it be in real life or from a book. So I guess you could call me your typical hardworking, middle class, white female who likes all things romance, and happy endings, cue The Notebook! Although that would be true, however, a recent experience led me to understand why I respond well to the genre of romance fiction. I realized the people whom I have been influenced by throughout my life and by watching their own experiences of love and romance led me to read this particular genre.
So I began to wonder, if I have a reason behind why I read romance fiction there has to be a reason behind why other people read romance fiction. As well as why authors write romance fiction. So after some research I discovered why some people read romance fiction, why they write it and why one author almost stopped writing romance fiction but didn’t!
Why People Read Romance Fiction:
Author Jody Hedlund asked her readers why they read romance fiction and the answers that her readers shared varied, but are also pretty much what I had expected because most of them are the same reasons as why I read them as well. Most of them said things like: to escape from reality, to glean inspiration from everyday life, and to live vicariously through the characters. To be honest, those are some of the reasons why I enjoy them as well.
Maria Rodale explains why she reads in a recent blog post she wrote about romance fiction. She said, “I started reading romance novels in college at my mother’s insistence (long-ish story). As a student of women’s literature, she declared that I couldn’t legitimately receive such a degree without reading the most popular and profitable books by women, for women, about women. Of all time. Ever. But I was a literature snob and scoffed at her suggestion. Like many a romance heroine, I resisted before finally surrendering to the pleasure to be found in those colorful mass-market paperbacks where the rogues are dashing, the heroines are daring, and true love always triumphs.” This then led Maria to start writing romance fiction after having been pushed into reading so many of the greats!
Like many of us readers of the romance fiction genre, we get caught up in our everyday lives and don’t have the time to read. We even get caught up in our bad days and we do things that are supposed to make us feel better. But wait, then we think what if we go read for an hour? So we do and we are suddenly immersed into a world that makes us forget for just a moment about the bad day we were having and that’s what makes us romance fiction readers continue to read. Rodale mentions in her post when talking about having a bad, “But the only thing that lessened the ache was a romance novel—a story written to be utterly absorbing, and that I knew with 100,000 percent certainty would end happily.” She knew what she needed, a good romance book to get her out of reality and into a world that knew none of her hardships of the day. And I agree, sometimes a romance novel is just what I need after a long or bad day. They are what keep me going and I’m usually sucked in to one until it’s finished and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Why People Write Romance Fiction:
Many writers write romance fiction but their reasons why differ just as much as those who read romance fiction.
Jody Hedlund who was mentioned earlier, is a historical romance novelist and she brings the real stories of the past back to life in the romance fiction genre. One thing that stood out to me when reading Hedlund’s post about this topic is why she loves to write romance fiction. She said, “One of the reasons I write romances is because I love bringing to life real love stories of the past. Another reason I write romances is that I want to be able to present healthy models of love, chivalry, and passion to a hurting and broken culture.” I think this is something a lot of us as readers want to read too, the world is becoming such a hateful and dark place. When we read these romance stories we get a since of a new and better world. In her post she not only included the three main reasons why her readers love to read romance fiction (mentioned above) but she also included the three main points she tries to keep in mind while creating and writing her stories for her readers.
“They want stories that transcend reality, they want stories that inspire them and they want characters that are alive.”
I think these things are what all readers of fiction usually want from the writers but even more so when it comes to romance fiction.
So like Hedlund, the reasoning for why people write romance fiction varies from one thing to the next.
An example of this would be Tricia Goyer, she loves to write romance fiction novels. However, she has a different approach on the subject. She loves romance stories in general but the stories written in the Bible are what draw her into the passion of writing romance fiction. She calls the Bible romantic and God romantic as well. Her main desire when writing is for the main romance to be between the central character and God. I love that! Having an author who understands the importance of God in a characters life is awesome. That’s why I read Christian romance fiction because these characters help me remind me of how I am supposed to live. Like Tricia said in her post, “When I write my novels, I don’t create perfect characters. They have their own issues and struggles. I never want a reader to think, “I wish my husband was perfect, just like this character.” No one is perfect, not even the characters in my books!” I know I’m not perfect and I like to be able to connect to a character on that same level just as Goyer describes.
Why Maya Rodale Didn’t, And Wont Quit Writing Romance Fiction:
Maya Rodale is a best selling author (mentioned at the beginning) and she almost quit doing what she loved: writing romance fiction. One day she was on a train reading a romance fiction novel. While reading that book it all hit her and she remembered why she began writing romance fiction in the first place and why she won’t quit. She began writing romance fiction because she was sick and tired of all the trashy unrealistic fiction and she didn’t want that to become the known romance idea. The book she was reading must have been the trashy kind of romance because it triggered her brain into reminding her that she can’t quit writing the kind romance fiction she likes to read, the happily ever after kind.
Why I Read Romance Fiction:
I realized my love for reading came from my love of romance stories. Being able to read something that could have potential at being real or even a real love story made into a book. That kind of story would be breathtaking and awesome. So yes, I love romance, more so, romance stories within my own family, but also romance stories from the Bible. Hence, why I love the genre of romance fiction, and particularly christian romance fiction. Like I mentioned earlier I love romance stories, but especially from The Bible. One that always comes to mind is the story of Ruth. Her story is known as the love/marriage story and how we as Christians should live; by obeying our husbands but also living a life that is pleasing to God. Ruth moved away from her family and the city she grew up in to help her mother-in-law, Naomi. She gave up everything to be a servant for Naomi. Then the man she met after having moved away gave her hope that she was doing the right thing and that God would bless her for her servant like heart. And as such, God did bless her with a husband in Boaz and a son named Obed. Ruth and Boaz are known as one of the most romantic stories within The Bible. My favorite verse from that story is:
“May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.” Ruth 2:12
Ruth had the hope and faith that doing good would bring great things to her and her family. And Got provided for her like He always does. That’s what any of us really want is hope. Hope for a better tomorrow, hope in something we don’t fully trust ourselves yet. But with God she believed everything would be okay, and it was.
I think us as readers all hope for things, that’s why we read period. Reading romance fiction just gives us more hope that there is better even if we haven’t found it in our lives yet.
The Serious Stuff:
As you can see from the research I’ve done there are many things to take in to account when people read and choose a genre they enjoy. But it wouldn’t mean as much if there wasn’t a story or a reason behind why we read what we read. Something or someone has influenced us all to read. So therefore we are also influenced by someone or something to read a specific genre in general also.
For all you fellow romance fiction readers out there here are a few consolations for you that I’ve stepped on and crushed… Yes I am female, however, I hate animals therefore I have no cats, and I am in a relationship with a guy I love. Therefore, I am in no need of a man either.
Don’t let the stereotypes categorize who you are and what kinds of books you like to read. Read what you want because we live in a Free Country and if romance fiction is what you love to read than keep reading you lonely, single cat lady… AKA happy, in a relationship, hard-working woman!