By Marianne Beach, GalTime.com
It seems you can't read an article about a romance novel without the author joking about bodice ripping and Fabio. And then, of course, there are the ones that straight-out condemn books as women's porn, with no redeemable qualities whatsoever, saying the books offer readers unrealistic fantasies about their love lives.
Author and blogger Sarah Wendall says yes. And she's written a book, "Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels" to prove it. We sat down with Sarah to find out how novels dealing with fictional love can actually help readers bring about their own happily ever afters in their real life relationships.
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We all know the stereotype of your typical romance reader. But who is actually reading these books?
Everyone you know! I'm only half-kidding. Romances are among the most popular and most purchased form of fiction, so more people read romance than you might think. I once saw a statistic that said four out of every five paperbacks sold in the US is a romance, but my theory is that it's actually five out of five, and the fifth person didn't know they were buying a romance.
To understand who is reading romance, you have to understand that romances are not just one thing. They aren't all giant haired, fuchsia-bedazzled historicals with giant orchids and panicking swans on the covers. There is a romance for every type of fiction readers enjoy, such as suspenseful, contemporary, historical, paranormal, erotic. So there's not just one type of romance reader.
That said, we are mostly women, we are educated, intelligent and, according to the Romance Writers of America survey of the romance readership, most of us are in happy long-term relationships.
What are these educated, intelligent women getting from reading romance novels?
The secrets to being successful, liberated and happy! Again, I'm only half-kidding. As I said, statistically, many romance readers are in long-term relationships. My own research for my book revealed that we are also the friend to whom our other friends turn to for advice. The reason for that, I think, rests on the fact that romances are about courtship. I know many people think romances are all about knocking boots and getting sexy but no, they're not. Some are quite explicit and some feature the most passionate scenes of hand holding, but they are all about courtship, not sex.
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