Wendy the Super Librarian – Romance & Emotion

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Visit every day in August to see what 93+ of your favorite authors have to say about The Joy of Romance. Do you love Romance? Let’s celebrate. xo

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Today is Romance Librarian Day at RARM! We love librarians. They can have such a great influence on what we read. In the case of romance, it’s a great opportunity for librarians to let readers know they won’t ever be judged for their choices. Thankfully there are some pro-Romance librarians in this world, and today we have three! If you’re a librarian who loves romance (or a reader or writer who knows one who does), then I wanted to let you know there’s a Facebook page where pro-Romance librarians share thoughts about publishing, libraries and romance.  You can find it here. Please share!

Wendy the Super Librarian – Finding Joy In Emotional Truth

I’m a librarian, so it stands to reason that I want people to love reading.  Anything.  I’m not picky.  There’s no secret handshake or Librarian’s Creed, but it’s not that different from a lot of other careers in the public sector.  Ask most librarians why they chose this line of work and you’ll hear “because I wanted to help people” fairly regularly.  Helping people can mean a variety of things.  It can mean everything from helping them navigate online job searching to exposing them to other community programs to simply providing a welcoming space for the community.  However my bread and butter is collection development, so of course I’m going to say that I like helping people through books the best. BlogHeader

Fiction, specifically genre fiction, tends to get a bad rap among intellectual circles.  The word “escapism” is a dirty word uttered with a sneer.  The writing is denigrated as trite and awful, even when it’s not.  Readers who read genre fiction do so for a variety of reasons, some of which is escapism and some of which is not.  Reading a mystery affirms my sense of right vs. wrong, my belief in justice even in the face of a real world where justice is sometimes in short supply.  Reading romance is a different kettle of fish.  I read romance for the characters and for what I call moments of emotional truth.

I think what makes romance so universally appealing to all stripes of readers is the 41MIhsUegRL._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_emotion.  I’d argue that all fiction should make the reader feel something, but romance is romance.  It’s a genre built on the foundation of emotion.  It wears emotion on its sleeve.  Romance with no emotion is just….pointless.  When I start a new romance novel I go into it expecting, dare I say it – demanding, that the author make me feel something.  Bliss, love, hate, anger, sadness, happiness – yes please.  Make me feel something.  Take me on that ride.  And the best joy to be found?  When the author writes that little bit of emotional truth.  That moment in the story when you stare at the print, dumbfounded, wondering how the author could possibly know that about you, channel it into her characters, when she wouldn’t know you from Adam in real life.

Those moments of emotional truth.

Sheer joy.  Sheer bliss.  It’s those moments that keep me coming back to the romance genre over and over again.

Wendy recommends:

Deeanne Gist started her romance career writing inspirational historical romance, but her last few books have been more sweet Americana.  She always includes such marvelous history in her stories and she has a knack for writing sizzling chemistry while keeping the bedroom door closed.  Start with one of my favorites, Tiffany Girl or Maid to Match. (You can read Deeanne’s RARM post here.)

L.B. Gregg writes male-male romantic comedies.  They’re like chick lit, without the something arichicks.  What I love about her stories are her characters.  Gregg writes such real, warm characters that I want to jump through the screen of my Kindle and give everyone a big hug.  Check out my favorite, There’s Something About Ari, or any one of her books set in the fictional New England town of Smithfield.

Charlotte Stein writes erotic romance, which wouldn’t seem all that extraordinary since everyone seems to be writing it these days.  What makes Stein’s books so great though is that she excels at writing sizzle and anticipation.  Simply filling your word count with oodles of kinky sex does not an erotic romance make.  It’s the tension.  It’s the longing.  It’s you sitting on the edge of your seat dying for the couple to do “it” already.  She’s also funny.  I tend to laugh (in good ways!) while reading a Stein book.  My favorites include Addicted, Sweet Agony, and Intrusion.


Questions for the Author:

Tell us about a moment in your life when you experienced sheer joy. 

Picture it, March 2011.  At that time I was the adult fiction book selector for a large library system and I was toiling away in my office cubicle.  When my phone rang I noticed immediately it was an “outside call.”  Not an unusual occurrence, I figured it was one of our vendor reps.  Um, no.  It was then president of RWA, Dorien Kelly telling me I had been named Librarian of the Year and that they were flying me out to accept the award at that year’s conference in New York City.  I was so stunned the first words out of my mouth were, “Shut up!”  I would now like to take this opportunity to publicly apologize to Ms. Kelly.

Tell us about a place that brings you joy, or is attached to a memory of joy.

This will shock nobody, but libraries bring me joy.  Really, any place where there is a decent gathering of paper books – so yes, bookstores will work as well.  There’s something about seeing all those books, preferably neatly lining the shelves, filled with so many possibilities.  Where will I go today?  What sort of story will the author tell me?  I love the convenience of ebooks, and read a ton in digital, but I have to be honest – gazing at those files on my computer hard drive doesn’t give me the same sort of zing as walking into a library or bookstore does. 

Tell us about a sound that brings you joy.

A huge chunk of music that came out of the 1950s and 1960s.  I spent my childhood taking regular road trips to visit relatives in a neighboring state.  To this day I gauge potential road-trips by six hours.  Less than six? Please, I can do that without breaking a sweat.  Dad and/or Mom driving meant we listened to their music.  So while all my friends were swooning over New Kids on the Block (that doesn’t date me at all), I was swooning over The Everly Brothers and The Beatles. 

What recent book have you read that brought you joy. (Or a book you read in your life that TG_final-400brought you so much joy you’ve never forgotten it.) Why?

The most recent one would be Tiffany Girl by Deeanne Gist.  I started reading that book while I was mired in a horrible slump.  So horrible was this slump that even good or great books weren’t eliciting much reaction from me.  I just didn’t feel like reading.  Picking up a book, any book, was a tall order.  But pick up Tiffany Girl I did and it hit all my sweet spots.  It was the beginning of slowly crawling my way back into my reading groove.

And for fun, the joy of choice ~

Pick your Chris! Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pine, Chris Pratt, Chris Rock, Chris Evans or Christopher Plummer (circ. 1964 aka Capt. Von Trapp?) – trying for a little diversity! ;o)

Hold the rotten eggs, but I’m convinced Hemsworth, Pine, Pratt and Evans are all actually the same guy.  No, really.  They’re like completely interchangeable to me.  I would pick Plummer, but my mother loves The Sound of Music and she’d likely call me out, her own flesh and blood, to duel.  So I’m going with Chris Rock because that man makes me laugh and I love guys with a sense of humor.

Wendy The Super Librarian is generously offering a mystery box of goodies from the Romance Writers of America Conference 2015 in New York City! What’s in the box? It’s a surprise! (U.S. readers only, apologies to international friends.)

Wendy Crutcher AvatarWendy’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 (wendythesuperlibrarian.blogspot.com) and Heroes & Heartbreakers (heroesandheartbreakers.com).

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  • Ohmygosh, Wendy. I’m so honored and humbled. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I know just what you mean about the smell and feel of libraries. Love, love, love them … and librarians, too. *wink, wink*

    • SuperWendy

      Deeanne: Thank you! Man, I loved that book.

  • mariannewestrich

    There’s nothing like the anticipation of rounding the stack of books in a library and trying to choose. 😎

  • Helen Bender

    I love your recommendations esp the M/M title as they are often forgotten by the Library World.

    • SuperWendy

      Helen: For the sake of disclosure, LB Gregg is a friend – but I just love her books. They’re so warm, and welcoming, and I want to be BFF’s with all of her characters. There’s Something About Ari has this great friends-to-lovers theme and the opening chapter slays me every single time. Now I want to do a reread.

  • Christyna

    Emotional truth! Rightcon, Wendy!

  • Bernadette Long

    Bookstores and libraries are ” joyful” places for me too.

  • Lori

    ITA that the emotion is what makes romance so great, that libraries are wonderful, and that anywhere with lots of books is my happy place.

  • Katherine Cummins

    Book stores and libraries are my happy places as well. And I also listened to the oldies (50s-70s) courtesy of my parents. When they played the oldies station in the dining hall at college, I was one of the few students that could/would sing along as I waited in line.

    • SuperWendy

      Katherine: I live in an area where there isn’t a decent oldies radio station anymore. I’m half-tempted to pony up for satellite radio – that’s how desperate I’m getting. I need to hear Ricky Nelson every once in a while! I just do!

  • Ellen

    Libraries and bookstores, 2 of my favorite places. You can never have too many books. 🙂

  • Sheila M

    I love libraries and librarians!

  • Pamby50

    Yes I love my kindle but I love libraries better. The first card my kids had were library cards. They are the windows to the world.

  • Patty Vasquez

    “That moment in the story when you stare at the print, dumbfounded, wondering how the author could possibly know that about you…” Yes, oh yes! I was reading a Kristan Higgins book last week (Fools Rush In). Her female lead character went out on a date to the movies with a clueless man who bought his own ticket and then stood back while he waited for Millie to buy her own ticket. Needless-to-say, Millie was a little bit taken back. And while I was reading, I thought, “I’ve dated this man! Kristan has it absolutely right!” I almost sent Ms. Higgins a note, because I was laughing at myself and the perfectness of the book.

    • SuperWendy

      Patty: I love those moments – because you know the author doesn’t know you exist, but it’s like she “gets” you. It’s the proverbial pat on the back and saying, “You’re not alone.”

  • Diana Michelle Tidlund

    anthology from Jeannie Moon, Jennifer Grace, Patty Blount and Jolyse Barnett , Christmas in New York

  • Texas Book Lover

    Yeah for librarians! I have such great memories of taking my daughters to the library when they were little.

  • Erin F

    Thanks for such a fun post! Escapism is exactly right 🙂

  • Monique Flasch

    Love the term emotional truth! Great way to describe genre fiction.

  • Melissa Cowling Terry

    I enjoyed reading your post!

  • Eileen Aberman-Wells

    I really enjoyed your post. I love how a book can just grab me and draw me into the story. I feel like I’m there experiencing what the characters are feeling, doing, seeing, etc. As I read I see it all in my head. Weird? Maybe, but it seems normal to me. I love reading a story where I think the author knows me, knows my story, met some of my ex-boyfirends or family, and wrote this book just for me. Sometimes when I finish a book I have to take a day or two to get over it before I can move on to another. It almost feels like I’m cheating on that author to read someone else. Thank you for sharing.

    • SuperWendy

      Eileen: I have a friend like this – when she finds a book that grabs her, I mean really hits her hard, she has a hard time moving on. Sometimes she’ll go back and reread the book immediately after finishing it. Sometimes 3-4 times in a row! I’ve never quite done that, but there have been times I’ve finished a book and immediately gone back to reread favorite passages.

  • Thanks for the recommentations. And in this moment I’m really sad I’m not an US citizen…most of all for the chance of that basket of goodies!!! 😉

  • Dorothy Salvagin

    Thanks for the interesting essay.

  • Linda Henderson

    I totally agree on libraries, and bookstores. When I was a kid we moved close to the local library and I walked there every day and checked out books. There was an older lady that had been the librarian since just about the dawn of time and all the kids were basically afraid of her. She must have recognized the love of reading in me right away because after seeing me every day for a couple of weeks she started letting me check out more books than the norm. As I grew older she steered me towards Emilie Loring and Grace Livingston Hill. Even as old as I am now I still think about her and how she helped encourage my love of reading. I didn’t get that at home, I’d never seen my mom even open a book. I was blessed to know her. So as you can tell, I have a great fondness for libraries and librarians. I’ve passed that on to my daughters and to my grandkids. They love going to the library and the bookstore. Actually, when my daughter found out she was pregnant the first thing I bought her for the baby was some children’s books. So now when my ten year old granddaughter asks if we can go to the bookstore, we go.

    • SuperWendy

      Linda: All of my nieces and nephews get books for birthdays and holidays from their Aunt Wendy – or now that some of them are older, gift cards to bookstores. Toys come and go, and frankly – they have enough of those. My sister once said, “We’ll make more room in the house for books. Toys? Not so much.”

  • Sheryl N

    Great post! I am going to check out those recommendations. I normally gravitate to certain authors and I find that I stick with historical romance the most. I am going to give yours a shot and see how I like them

  • Karen Mikusak

    I still have my childhood library card from the 1960’s! Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Kim

    I still get many hardcover books from the library. It’s a great resource.

  • jcp smith

    Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Jennifer C

    Beautiful essay. I adore libraries – all the books, the smell! I loved your recommendations, too.

  • LSUReader

    Wendy, what a great post. FYI, libraries bring me a lot of joy, too. Among my earliest memories are Mom bringing me to the library to choose books.

  • Deana Dick

    I worked at a library for 15 years and felt like I was in a candy store. I loved being there and seeing all the new books that came in.

  • catslady

    I can’t be thankful enough for libraries and the many librarians. Since a child, it’s been my lifeline and has brought me much joy. Thank you for all you do.

  • Kareni

    I’m yet another who loves books, libraries, used book stores, and thrift stores. I’ll also stop at a yard sale if I see books. Thanks for an enjoyable post, and belated congratulations on being named Librarian of the Year in 2011.

  • Quinn Fforde

    Libraries are my favorite places, too. So peaceful and full of promise. I relax just walking in the door.

  • Debbie Fuller

    I too love my library, even the online state library. Thank you for taking the time to post here.

  • Kai W.

    When I saw the Batman with Adam West, I thought Barbara Gordon has a perfect alter-ego. Librarian by day (even though she is the Police Commissioner’s daughter) and Batgirl as needed.

  • Sharlene Wegner

    I was a literature major in college & I think I missed my true calling to get a degree in library science. I read almost exclusively romance now, because it makes me happy. My library clerks never judge!

  • Dawn Anderson

    I, too, grew up listening to my mother’s music. I was a big Abba fan, even though none of my friends knew who they were. Although, I liked New Kids too!
    Libraries and bookstores have always been my happy place. 🙂

  • Aleen D

    Congrats on your award! I love a story that evokes emotion. I wouldn’t call my wanting to read as escapism, just that I enjoy stories.

  • Chelsea B.

    hahaha your Chris answer made me laugh!

  • Elizabeth ‘Liza’ Schroedle

    I grew up listening to my parents music. They loved Glenn Miller, Ricky Nelson and Herb Albert. My mother’s youngest sister was a Beatles fan, so I was exposed to the Beatles at a young age.

  • Sue G.

    I’m going to have to check out Charlotte Stein. Sounds interesting. Congrats on Librarian of the Year! Nice!

  • cheryl c.

    Ever since I was a child, a library has been a happy place for me.

  • Joan Varner

    I can totally agree with a library brings me joy. I walk in and I am happy. I can spend hours in my local library.

  • Carol Luciano

    Libraries are a treasure to me. I’m so at home in ours. The director told me she waits for me to request certain Romance titles and then when they come in she reads them. Everyone seeemed to love my rquests. Thanks for your post.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  • Brianne Sherwood Wolman

    I could get lost for hours in a library, just jumping from one genre to another. There are so many possibilities to experience so many different things.

  • T. Rosado

    I love my library. I used to homeschool and would be there three days a week. I’m My youngest entered H.S. and I’m no longer homeschooling, so the majority of my reading is now for personal enjoyment. I think I have read more books this year in celebration than all my years since college. Now I go to the library at least twice a week, but I am leaving with armfuls of fiction rather than curriculum.

  • Angela H

    I would love to work for a library – to be surrounded by books all day would be great

  • Diane Sallans

    I wish I had studied to be a librarian!

  • Courtney Cogswell

    Libraries are a sacred place to me. Everytime I have moved, it’s the first place I find in my new town. My mom was a librarian when I was growing up and some of my best memories were in our small town library. And now I can have my cake and eat it too with digital library access as well as a physical library to visit. How great is that?!?!

  • Glenda

    Being forced à librarian would be à dangerous job for me. Way to many distractions!!

  • Sarah Blumkin

    My husband always jokes that he loves that I have my library card number memorized but not my credit card number. I’d much rather go to the library than shopping.

  • kirsten west

    Loved the interview! I have always enjoyed going to the library and the librarians make it a wonderful experience.

  • Mary McCoy

    Growing up, we lived 2 blocks from our local branch of the Chicago Public Library. I lived in that place, and even loved the old card catalogs.

  • Violet Bick

    I love libraries, bookstores, or even visiting people’s homes and seeing what’s on their bookshelves. I recently toured Frank Lloyd Wright’s house, Taliesin, and there were books in Russian, I assume belonging to Wright’s third wife. There was also I library book there! I was so tempted to check: Was it a discard, or is there some library somewhere owed a very hefty fine?

  • Michele H.

    Libraries and bookstores are always fun to walk around and browse. I am glad there are librarians like Wendy that appreciate genre fiction- wish there were more of them out there!