Day 15 Maya Rodale – Girls Matter, Romance Matters

What you’re really celebrating when you read a romance novel

It’s just a romance novel. It’s just a bodice ripper, totally disposable (trashy) book that you buy at the airport and leave behind in your hotel room, the kind of book you read once and forget about. It’s certainly not the kind of book you study in school, have pretentious conversations about at cocktail parties or let gather dust on your bedside table. WHAT A WALLFLOWER WANTS

But romance novels are still worthy of celebration—full on fireworks, confetti, champagne kind of celebration. Out of millions of reasons why we should celebrate romance, here are three:

Romance novels let you feel all the feelings.

Lolz. Angst. Fiery rage, explosive passion, total fear, fluttering hearts. From page one to the black moment, to happily ever after and all the moments in between, romance novels turn up the emotion to 11, which means the reader gets an emotional adventure—risk free. This effects us as individuals in a way that has implications for human interaction. The New York Times reports on two studies that show “that individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective.” To me, this sounds like a recipe for kinder human interactions, which makes for a better world.

Romance novels are pure escape and entertainment.

No, that’s not a bad thing. How else can you go to England for $6.99? Or hell, how else can you get to Medieval Scotland? How else can you, for a few hours, live the life of pirate, princess, or Wild West cowgirl? If you figure it out, let me know. In the meantime, I am taking a temporary break from the dishes in my sink, the epic to do list and my small apartment to immerse myself in a world of castles, servants and nothing to do but make love to a hunky hero (after saving the day, obvs). Then it’s back to work, rested and reinvigorated after a little break.

Romance novels are great examples for girls.

Romance heroines lean in. They live and love to a higher standard—not even Mr. Darcy and ten thousand a year are enough if they aren’t accompanied by love and respect. Romance heroines make disastrous mistakes of epic proportions and then they recover. They come in all shapes and sizes (even before those Dove ads). They manage good relationships with men and women. And the orgasms—these heroines learn to experience pleasure and show the reader how too. Romance novels are stories that tell girls they matter, that they should chase their dreams, that they can have adventures instead of being stuck at home as daughter/girlfriend/wife. Above all, these stories tell girls they can be true to themselves and be loved for it.

Recommendations:

Maya recommends…Katharine Ashe (8/1), Miranda Neville, Caroline Linden, Brenna Aubrey and Megan Mulry (8/27).


 Questions For The Author

Describe the most daring, adventurous or inspiring thing you ever did. 

When I was 19, I moved to New York City with very few friends or connections. It’s been 12 years now and I haven’t looked back.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.

In my early NYC days, I lived in a very confining dorm room and had few friends to go out and socialize with. So I took my notebook out to cafes, where I would sit and write for hours. I also took creative writing classes in college I figured the homework would be easy (just make stuff up!) and I could do it in a café with a glass of wine. I’ve been lucky to make a career out of that.

Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life.

There are many, but here’s one: Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. With that book, I realized that one could write about their life in a funny and profound way even if it wasn’t particularly adventurous, dramatic or unusual. I learned to find the universal, the truth, and the funny in the small moments we all experience. Even the most outlandish fictional romance novel requires these moments to connect with readers so they can ring true.


Maya Rodale

Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence. She is now the author of numerous smart and sassy romance novels. A champion of the genre and its readers, she is also the author of the non-fiction book Dangerous Books For Girls: The Bad Reputation Of Romance Novels, Explained and a co-founder of Lady Jane’s Salon, a national reading series devoted to romantic fiction. Maya lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.

 

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  • Deb Hinshaw

    Haha, taking a creative writing course, make things up, and doing so while in a cafe and drinking wine. Great! Your post was great today, Maya. We can go far away to another land, another time, another place through romance novels; learn history and lessons while being immersed in the story of heroes and heroines. So true! Thanks for being here today!

    • Maya Rodale

      Thanks! (I’m actually writing this from a cafe now–but drinking iced tea not wine.)

  • Angie Frawley

    I don’t think I could have made it this far without my daily reading fix..It’s my stress reliever!!..Thanks for telling us such wonderful tales!!

    • Maya Rodale

      The daily reading fix is key! 🙂

  • LisaVH

    “Romance novels are stories that tell girls they matter, that they should chase their dreams…” Yes!! Exactly.

    • Maya Rodale

      🙂

  • cheryl c.

    Romance novels ARE escape and entertainment, but they often touch my heart in some special way as well.

    • Maya Rodale

      Yes!

  • Kylan Alexander

    I love romance novels because they make me try harder with my husband. I’m not the romantic one in our relationship. Lol

    • Maya Rodale

      Shhh…I’m also not the romantic one in my relationship!

  • Debbie Oxier

    Don’t know what I would do without them.

    • Maya Rodale

      Ditto 🙂

  • mariannewestrich

    Escape and entertainment … who could ask for anything more?!?!?! 😎

    • Maya Rodale

      Exactly!

  • Kathy Nye

    I agree that we feel all the emotions while reading romance. I appreciate being taken to new experiences.

    • Maya Rodale

      I love trying to dream up the new experiences for all of us 🙂

  • Denise Christensen Metcalf

    I enjoy the escape of a good romance novel! And I loved your “Dangerous Books for Girls.” Fun, informative read.

    • Maya Rodale

      Me too! Thank you! 🙂

  • Fern Martin

    I love that your mom got you hooked on romance novels. Does she have a favorite one for you to read first?

    • Maya Rodale

      Mee too 🙂 She wanted me to read Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss first and I just couldn’t get into it. However, once I picked up The Flame and The Flower…

      • Fern Martin

        Anything by Kathleen Woodiwiss is amazing. Who else from those early authors do you like to read? How have they influenced your writing?

        • Maya Rodale

          Those are great questions! I haven’t read much of those early authors–tho I’ve read most of Woodiwiss–and it’s on my list to read more. I started Sweet Savage Love and was horrified! So I don’t think it’s influenced my writing much…yet!

  • Susiecat

    I bought your first book because I “know” you (you went to school with my son, although I think you’re a year ahead of him, and your Uncle Anthony bought his house on 2nd St. from us). Congratulations on all your successes! I’ve enjoyed reading your books and watching you grow as an author.

    • Maya Rodale

      Hi! Small town, small world! Thanks for reading my books and watching me grow as an author : )

  • Erica H

    I like that you chose David Sedaris as the answer to question 3. He can make the mundane funny. I enjoy your books, because you also make the most normal things amusing. There is no need for an outlandish plot (although sometimes those are fun as well).

    • Maya Rodale

      Thanks! I try to make myself laugh as I write. The rest of the world provides enough sadness. And now I want to go reread some Sedaris…

  • alisha woods

    Reading is definitely my escape from reality

    • Maya Rodale

      Me too!

  • Beautiful words! I will read some of your books, surely!

    • Maya Rodale

      Awesome! Thank you!

  • “Empathize…sounds like a recipe for kinder human interactions, which makes for a better world”. So true! And we can learn it simply in books. Not expensive nor heavy! 😉

    • Maya Rodale

      “Not expense or heavy” Indeed! If only other problems were so easily and pleasantly solved!

  • Sue G.

    Nice writeup. I love my romances! I need my happy ending.

    • Maya Rodale

      Thanks! #HEA forever!

  • Quinn Fforde

    Very thought-provoking

  • Patty Vasquez

    Mothers always know best, don’t they? I’m so glad you listened to your mom and read those romance novels when you were in college. I’m also very, very glad to have you in the corner of the romance novel and its readers. We couldn’t have a more eloquent, logical spokesperson.

  • Debbie Fuller

    Thank you for contributing your thoughts on romance. I’m adding your recommendations to my TBR list.

  • Joyce Rajnyak Burkhardt

    It is amazing how well you described what reading means to me. Thank you so much! Keep your stories coming…

  • Judy Goodnight

    My first reaction to your opening paragraph was shock & horror. I could never abandon one of my romance books in a hotel room. I must take my precious home and find it a spot on the shelf to be savored again & again. 🙂

  • Tammy H

    Very well said!

  • Emmel

    I love the fact that romance is making inroads into academia. I’ve been to two scholarly conferences on romance, and it’s such a thrill to see the growth of courses on romance at universities!

  • Barbara E.

    Romance novels are definitely worthy of celebration. The most important thing I take away from reading romance is the good feeling I get at the end when everything all works out and everyone is happy (except maybe a villain).

  • Sheryl N

    You are one of my favorites! Thanks for the recommendations

  • Julie

    I love reading, especially romance novels. Thank you for sharing your talent.

  • Diane Sallans

    I don’t agree with ‘trashy’ or ‘disposable’ – I got with fun & entertaining

  • Marcy Shuler

    I enjoyed your post, Maya, and I adore your books!

  • Courtney Cogswell

    First of all, I love your books. I find a lot excuses to take breaks from chores, work, etc so I can indulge in some reading. I love that a good book can completely transport you into another time, place, or whatever. Romance has always been my favorite genre and I cannot get enough happy ever afters. Great post today and thanks again for all you do!

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    Thank you for putting my feelings about romance books into words. I’ve enjoyed my reading journeys to different places & time periods. They have given me a glimpse into the history of those times & places. I also enjoy contemporary reads that give me a realistic view on love.

  • ki pha

    You got everything down to the mark!

  • Laurie Skinner Gray

    I agree with you! So glad you took those creative writing classes in college! I love your books!

  • Stephanie M.

    Thank you for your post. Thank you for reminding me why I celebrate romance every day. 🙂

  • Martha B

    There are many reasons I like romance. A key component (in the ones I read,) are the fact the women are strong, resilient and recover. They move forward despite set backs to reach their HEA.

  • Jen C

    Yes, yes, and yes! All the reasons! (I especially love the wording, by the way, of “Romance novels let you feel all the feelings.”)

  • Rochelle

    These are wonderful reasons to love romance novels! I feel the same.

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I never throw out my romance books and almost always read them again! Thanks for the essay!

  • LSUReader

    I love that romance novels are escapist and entertainment. Sometimes, that’s exactly the break we need to deal with reality the rest of the time. Thanks for the post, Maya.

  • Kim

    I’ve never been to NYC, but I’d like to visit there someday.

  • Moriah

    One thing I love about e-readers is I’m never forced to get rid of books due to space issues

  • rebecca moe

    Fantastic post! Thank you 🙂

  • Sheila M

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  • Joan Varner

    I totally agree with all three of your points. Thank you.

  • Glenda

    ” two studies that show “that individuals who frequently read fiction seem to be better able to understand other people, empathize with them and see the world from their perspective.” ”
    That explains SO much about some people. 😀 Great post, Maya!

  • Janie McGaugh

    Great post! Certainly, the escape and entertainment (in conjunction with a HEA) are the main reasons I read romance.

  • Erin F

    thanks for the awesome post! I totally agree 🙂 thanks for sharing!

  • Pamby50

    I totally agree. I have been all over because of the wonderful romance writers. Thanks for taking us along.

  • Michelle Harlan

    I completely agree with your thoughts on romance! For me, they’re an escape, but also empowering. I suffer from bipolar, and on really bad days, I escape with a book. It’s how I calm down and refocus. After all, if the heroine can make it, so can I!

  • Adaffern

    What a great post, thanks!

  • catslady

    My favorite type of read!

  • Gretchen

    I love to read stories set in other countries or other times. It really brings history to life in a way you just can’t get from a text book.

  • I love that you mentioned that romance novels tell girls that they matter.I feel that romance lets you escape to different worlds, time periods and places. It’s a great way to relax