Day 19 Wendy the SuperLibriarian – Romance, Where Women Have Value

♥               ♥               ♥               ♥               ♥               ♥               ♥               ♥               ♥

Hi friends ~ It’s Blogger Day at Read-A-Romance Month!

I’ve invited some friends of Read-A-Romance Month to do their own posts on why we should Celebrate Romance. Hope you love the posts on Day 19 of the calendar and here, where you can find more friendly bloggers I’ve met through the RARM Facebook page sharing their thoughts.

Happy Blogger Day – Celebrate Romance!

Romance – Awesome & Subversive

I’m a librarian and I love to read romance novels. Typically, when someone I’m meeting for the first time learns these two salient points about me one of two things occurs. They either 1) crack a joke about bodice rippers or 2) they value their life and instead ask what the appeal of the genre is for me.

I like romance novels for several reasons, and usually preface my comments by stating that every reader of the genre comes at it from different angles. However, for me, it’s all about being subversive.

I am a classic middle child, sandwiched in between two intelligent, vocal and beautiful sisters. I’m the peacemaker. The introvert. The shy one whose kindergarten teacher once wrote on her report card that “Wendy still has a tendency to go off into her own world.” I do feel that over the years, as I’ve aged and stopped caring somewhat about what people think about me, that I’ve become more extroverted. That being said, I’m the kind of person to pick apart a problem from a multitude of starting points before opening my mouth and offering up my solution.

Romance novels as feminist literature is a long standing argument. On the flip side of the coin you have romance novels derided in some feminist circles as reinforcing negative female stereotypes. I land more on the side of the former, but instead of offering a dissertation on why (there are others more qualified than I who do so) I give them this answer: Because romance novels are subversive, which automatically makes them pretty darn awesome.

We live in a world, even in the 21st century, where women are not always valued. Our opinions, our desires and dreams – they are deemed uneducated, unimportant or just plain wrong. We shouldn’t have ambitions. We shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads over anything that doesn’t involve looking pretty and keeping our mouths shut. Respect and equality, why should we ever waste our time on such things? And sex? Good heavens, we shouldn’t like it, want it, or even think about it. Whatever choices we make, someone, somewhere is going to tell us we are wrong. It’s inevitable.facebook-coverphoto-blogger

Romance novels never tell us we’re wrong. Romance novels tell us it’s OK to feel what we feel and to think what we think. And most importantly? Romance novels tell us we’re OK. Great romance novels hold our hand and tell us we’re not alone. There are people out there who know what you’re going through, who support you, who understand. You have value.

Looking at the sub genres I enjoy reading, when done well, romance novels put the heroine at center stage. The woman. The same woman who society is saying is unimportant, wrong, and not valued. That woman, that heroine, is the star of the show. She is a person. You are a person. She has a voice. You have a voice. She is a woman. You are a woman. What could possibly be more awesomely subversive than that?

Recommendations:

I love to read category romances, so I thought it would be fun to list three of my favorite authors working in the shorter format:

Jessica Hart who writes wonderful, heroine-driven stories for Harlequin Romance and Harlequin Kiss.

Helen Kay Dimon who writes page-turning, un-put-down-able suspense stories for Harlequin Intrigue.

And finally, Donna Alward, who recently has taken her small town sexy cowboys to Harlequin American.


Questions For Wendy

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

At the tender age of 17 I left home to attend college 400 miles away, out of state. Probably not a big deal for most people, but I was (and still am in some respects) the classic middle child. I think I shocked the heck out of everyone in the family by leaving home before the age of 30!

 2 – Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer. (How did you decide to get started? Did you always know or was there a specific moment when you knew?)

The romance genre really got me active online, and shortly after discovering the genre at the tender age of 23, I started writing reviews for a now defunct web site. When blogging became “a thing” – I saw a way to add my voice to the community by talking about more than just “the books.” I also saw it as a way to connect with other readers out there. Having no one in my real life to talk romance novels with (a travesty for a librarian!), blogging became a way to find “my people.”

 3 – Tell us about The (or A) Book That Changed Your Life. (Why?)

Watermelon by Marian Keyes. It immediately got me hooked on romance novels. The irony being that it’s technically not a romance, fitting more closely within the chick lit mold. But what that book showed me was how the genre had changed from the few lusty bodice rippers I read as a teen. It showed me that the genre wasn’t one size fits all. It showed me that the genre is constantly evolving.

Wendy The Super Librarian is generously offering a mystery box of goodies from the Romance Writers of America Conference 2014 in San Antonio, Texas! What’s in the box? It’s a surprise! (U.S. readers only, apologies to international friends.) Entry form below.


Wendy Avatar-1Wendy’s first professional library job involved purchasing adult fiction for a rural Michigan library system. After earning a B.A. in history and a master’s degree in library science, she fell into that job by accident and wasn’t entirely prepared. The biggest hole in her popular fiction knowledge was romance, so she started reading and quickly got hooked. She now heads up the collection development department for a very large library system on the west coast. In 2011, the Romance Writers of America honored her with their annual Librarian of the Year Award. Wendy’s writing can be found on several online venues including The Misadventures of Super Librarian and Heroes & Heartbreakers.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  • lcgiroux

    Love that you see Romance as subversively Feminist! Makes it all the sweeter writing these stories.

  • MK

    What an insightful post! Thank you for sharing with us!

  • Sue G.

    What an awesome post! You put into words what most of us who read romance want to say to those who believe that “those” books are trash. I love this genre. I love getting my happy ending and I love reading about all different types of people. It relaxes me. Thanks for this great writeup!

    • SuperWendy

      Sue: Even when I’m not reading romance I tend to steer myself towards genre fiction. Dynamite, fully-realized characters + positive endings. What could possibly be better than that?

  • Debbie Oxier

    Thanks for sharing!

  • Courtney Cogswell

    I love a good blog about books…especially if the blogger is a romance fan, like myself. I can’t wait to start checking out your website…from what little bit I saw this morning, it looks awesome and right up my alley! Thanks for participating in RARM and offering a fun giveaway. I’m always so glad to find other romance readers…especially when they are also bloggers and can help me find new books and authors!

    • SuperWendy

      Courtney: And there are so many blogs out there now! When I started my blog (back in The Dark Ages) there were only a very small handful of bloggers who concentrated on romance. Now there are a ton! I’m always discovering new romance bloggers it seems 🙂

  • Anna

    Another fun blog to read! 🙂

    And I also don’t have a lot of friends who are romance readers, so it’ll be fun to have those discussions with people who read and enjoy the genre.

    • SuperWendy

      Anna: When I started blogging I literally had no one in my Real Life who read romance. What blogging did for me was to help me find “my people” – many of whom I’ve had the pleasure to meet in Real Life as well.

  • Erica H

    I too am a librarian and love reading romance. Anytime I get any grief about it (many times from other librarians) I tell them that no one harasses better than middle schoolers, and it didn’t other me then and it doesn’t bother me now 🙂

    • SuperWendy

      Erica: Librarians who read romance should probably be given a Teflon suit. The snide comments from colleagues do tend to outnumber the ones from the Non-Library World – which is sad. Although I will say this, I think it’s getting better. Expanded review coverage in professional journals has helped, and also the recent upswing in demand for erotic romance has certainly helped some librarians see the light 😉 “Oh, you mean these books check out all the time and are never on the shelf? You mean my circulation stats will go through the roof? Tell me more!”

      Like, duh.

  • Krysten Mich

    Love your views on the romance genre! That is exactly why I read!

  • Lynda Dickey

    I think I started reading Regency romances when I was 12 – I loved that the ladies made all of the strict rules work for them or broke them as needed. I still read lots of romance in a variety of genres, and refer the especially good ones to my husband (yes, he reads them).

    • SuperWendy

      Lynda: Those always seem to be my favorite types of historicals – where the heroines are limited due to the mores of the time period, but find clever ways to work around them.

  • Rebecca Whitehead-Schwarz

    I’m really fortunate that my mother and mother-in-law love romance! It makes it a lot easier to discuss books I like, although I will admit to hiding certain books when I’m on the stationary bike at the gym, lol.

    • SuperWendy

      Rebecca: LOL! Dear guy on the bike next to me: don’t mind the hot, hunky bare-chested guy on my book cover. He’s no threat to you. Or maybe that should be you’re no threat to him? 😉

      • Rebecca Whitehead-Schwarz

        Ha! A least Hot Man Boobs with no Head don’t fling sweat on me while I’m working out! 😉

  • Debbie Fuller

    Thank you for adding your voice

  • cheryl c.

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on romances. I hate it when someone snubs their nose at romance novels based on just their pre-conceived notions.

  • Rochelle

    Being a librarian would be a delight! Surrounded by all those lovely books and media!

    • SuperWendy

      Rochelle: Right now I’m surrounded by piles of inherited files and paperwork. They aren’t nearly as lovely as books (although I do have a few of those too!)

  • TrishJ

    I have loved reading since I learned how! I read my mom’s Harlequin romances when I was in high school. I lived in a very small town and our local library wasn’t very big. I had a librarian who understood my love of reading and showed me books that filled my imagination. I read all kinds of books, but fell in love with romance books. I like the HEA and knowing that when i close the book, i am left with a good feeling. I had to end a book with sadness or horror.

    • SuperWendy

      Trish: You probably made that librarians day! I always have to hold myself back when a patron walks in and wants to talk books with me. And if they’re a romance reader? I have to keep myself from jumping across the reference desk. Don’t appear too eager Wendy, or you’ll scare them away LOL

  • Sheila M

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I started reading romances by snitching my mom’s and then found so many new authors by going to the library and checking out a dozen at a time.

    • SuperWendy

      Sheila: I totally stole this from somebody else, but I think of libraries as places of “casual discovery.” Such a great way to try new authors and your only risk is potential overdue fines.

  • Jen

    I was also 17 and went far away for college but I am the oldest and wanted to escape my small New England town.

    • SuperWendy

      Jen: That sounds like the guy in my life! Same story, just not New England.

  • Quinn Fforde

    Now I will feel rebellious and subversive every time I read! Great post. Marian Keyes really opened my eyes, too.

  • Tammy H

    I’m a middle child, too!

  • Judy Goodnight

    Here’s to rebellious and subversive women! (clinks glass)

  • Kim

    Do you ever have to be careful what you say on your personal blog, because of your job as a librarian?

    • SuperWendy

      Kim: Sometimes. Which is why my blog is long on romance novels and very, very, very short on “librarian stuff.” I strive to keep my employer entirely off my blog – which is best for both of us.

  • mariannewestrich

    Love your article … it perfectly presents the argument for reading romance! Kudos!

  • Kathy Nye

    Love your points. Thanks.

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    Love your post. You made some good reasons for reading romance. I found that many of the female characters are strong women which in turn has given me an inner strength that I lacked in my younger days.

  • Wendi Rogers

    Modern Romance novels, of all stripes, challenge what is acceptable. Happiness in most zip codes is a subversive state of being. Thank you, for taking the time to write this blog post.

  • Kathryn Trask

    Wendy I love romance, partly what I really like is that there is such a wide variety of genre and sub genre within it. Both of us can say we love romance yet read entirely different authors and genres. I am not into hot, hot romance, but will read something that is hotter than I like if I like the author’s writing – Nalini Singh is an example of that – a little too hot for me but wow, love her world building. I should even say I am not that fond of paranormal vampires etc, but I will read them in her world.

    • SuperWendy

      Kathryn: That is the great thing about romance – there is so much variety. I have a sister who will read erotic romance and romantic suspense – but she’d probably rather be boiled in oil before reading straight-up contemporary romance.

  • Meghan

    I started reading romance in high school, got a lot of flack for it in college and as an adult. But they really are great stories and I don’t care what other people think. 🙂

    • SuperWendy

      Meghan: I read a little romance in high school, but escaped college completely brain-washed that reading the genre was pathetic. What can I say? I was an idiot.

  • Laura Lee

    I’m subversive in my professional role, being a woman in the almost all-male technology world. Glad my reading tastes reflect my career. Really enjoyed your essay, Wendy!

  • LSUReader

    What a good post! You are so right–romance is an accepting, friendly genre that does tell us “we’re ok.” I started reading romance late in life. Previously, my choices were all non-fiction or mystery/suspense books. Less than 10 years ago, I started reading romantic suspense, and that opened the floodgates of the whole romance genre. I still read other genres, but two-thirds of my books are romance. Thanks for the post Wendy.

    • SuperWendy

      LSUReader: I read a ton of Gothics as a teen but came to them via mystery/suspense. Years later, after rediscovering romance, I like to think those Gothics planted the seeds for me finding the genre again.

  • Martha B

    Blogs (especially about romance books) are great! It is a fun way to find other like-minded people who discuss, review and recommend other authors.

    I LOVE that woman have a voice and are center stage. Thank you for generously donating books at you collected at RWA. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t part with them.

    My feedback regarding your Kindergarten teacher’s comments. Many people, teachers, and (especially) family made similar comments about me during childhood. They said, “… she is “off” in her own world”. I was always reading.

    When I wasn’t reading, I was living in the world that author had created. The characters in novels were my friends. Now, even though I’m way past childhood (translation late middle-aged adult,) fictional characters are my friends. I root for them to recover from their set backs and achieve their happily-ever-after.

    • SuperWendy

      Martha: I always know I’m reading a great book when the author makes me forget that the characters “aren’t real people.” I start to think of them like they really could exist!

      I got so many books at RWA – some of which I already own, so I’m happy to share the wealth!

  • Ellen

    Thanks for the fun post. (I, too, am a middle child who works in the library world and reads romances.)

  • Dee Feagin

    I read your blog and look for you at H&H because you give me things to think about, often make me smile and encourage me in my guilty pleasure—Harlequins, which I think of as the chocolate bar I eat after I eat my veggies.

    • SuperWendy

      Dee: I think category romances are the “purest form” of the genre. You get All Of The Romance And None Of The Other Stuff – lol. For lovers of romance, they give a strong focus, a hardcore concentration on what we love best – uh, the romance! Of course!

  • Emmel

    Yes romance is subversive. That’s something I wish my feminist friends would appreciate more!

    Ml

  • Erin F

    thanks for such a thoughtful and fun post! I totally agree : )

  • Tin

    I love your blog posts and this essay was amazing. I especially agree with this: “Romance novels never tell us we’re wrong. Romance novels tell us it’s OK to feel what we feel and to think what we think. And most importantly? Romance novels tell us we’re OK.”

    — I love the idea that we all share the same experiences, regardless of which part of the world we are — and the message of romance novels is consistently about hope.

    Happy RARM to all of us!

  • Chelsea B.

    I really loved this post!

  • M Kuxhaus

    I never thought of them as subversive before. Hmm…

  • donnas

    Thanks for sharing. I have to admit I never thought of it this way.

  • Stephanie Fredrick

    Loved this post and completely agree. 🙂

  • Gretchen Miller

    Fun

  • LisaVH

    The heroine as center stage is something I always knew, but never thought about. I love a story where you spend time in another woman’s mind and experience her feelings and reactions. It definitely gives me the chance to think about my own experiences and emotions. She is the most important thing at that moment and that is pretty “awesomely subversive”. 🙂

  • Alex W

    Loved this post! Thanks!

  • Janie McGaugh

    Great post, and you mention a couple of new to me authors, as well.

  • Joan Varner

    I agree with you that HelenKay Dimon writes super romantic suspense. She is one of my favorites. Jessica Hart and Donna Alward I will have to check out.

  • rebecca moe

    Awesome post, Wendy! I wish you were my librarian–the last time I got a physical romance from my library (Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale), both of mine had snide comments about the cover when I returned it. (Okay, so it was the cheesy one. But still!)

  • Kristen Kocher

    I love to read romance novels!

  • Toni Linenberger

    I want to come to your library!

  • Rita Wray

    A library is the perfect place to work.

  • Stephanie M.

    Thank you for your post. I wish my librarians were more like you.

  • Gretchen

    My first job at 16 was a library page. I loved it! I think my dream job would be a librarian. My mom always wanted to be one too. I laughed when I saw the picture next to your profile. That year I was working in the library, my boyfriend joked about my secret identity being Batgirl, because I have red hair!

  • Julie Nieves

    My dream job is working in a library!

  • Michelle Fidler

    I’m an amateur librarian, ha ha. If I can’t find a book I don’t ask the librarians because they usually can’t find it either! Sometimes this happens with a new book that says available but isn’t on the shelf yet or the book isn’t put in with the new books and is instead on the shelves with the other older books.
    I’m hanging out at the library right now, on their Internet computer. I also check out books and DVD’s, etc.

  • JanD

    Thanks for the new to me author recommendations.

  • Cheryl Hastings

    New fan here…great post!!

  • I love reading romance novels because it tells us that our happily ever after is waiting for us out there.

  • Marie

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I’m looking forward to checking out your blog and your book reviews!

  • Ruth

    I absolutely love your avatar!

  • Debbie Kitzke

    Loving these giveaways

  • Marcy Shuler

    I loved your post, Wendy. I’m in Michigan and plan to check out your FB page.

  • Brianne Sherwood Wolman

    I never thought of the subversive argument – I like it a lot. And love the rec – Dimon and Alward are two of my favorites.

  • flchen1

    Great post, Wendy–I do love how romance is the ultimate feminist platform, although there are likely many who would argue otherwise. And great recs–I love category titles, too!