They are loved and hated, adored and avoided, treasured and spurned. Not at all unlike rap music and country music. People tend to either love or hate. It’s rare to get anyone on the fence about them.
Here’s a new way to see it: Romance novels are necessary.
Though it’s probably rare to find boys reading anything from the Romance shelves, boys are the ones who need it the most. They need to learn about the ‘birds and the bees’.
In a world full of absentee fathers, where else will a boy learn what he needs to know about girls? Hopefully not from that absentee father. And if the boy doesn’t learn about it from anyone, he’ll still learn something from that absentee father. He’ll learn to emulate. He might begin to think it’s just what men do: make babies and run.
Well, but then couldn’t it be argued that’s a message published by the Romance style of books? It’s a definite possibility. My personal experience with romance novels is not broad. I tried to read Nabokov not too long ago, and it made me have the dry heaves. Regardless of my aversion to the story Lolita, I did learn. I learned something about the psychology of a pedophile. And I also learned more than one thing about writing. How to write well, and how to write poorly.
Aside from those things, reading Lolita didn’t make me want to read more so-called Romance books. This article, however, is not about Nabokov. It’s about how necessary romance is in fiction. And how dudes need to read more. Dudes don’t often get themselves educated. They don’t often read, or even be found reading. Which is why they use the word ‘dude’ a lot—even when talking about females.
Terribly non-romantic. How many guys who walk around calling the females in their lives ‘dude’ are learning how to treat a lady with respect? A few maybe, but they’re the exceptions. And I bet the exceptions grow mature enough (eventually) to differentiate between male and female and then (eventually) stop calling everyone dude all the time.
To rectify the lack of dudes reading Romance, I think we need to branch that tired old genre out. It needs more links to sci-fi and horror and motorcycle maintenance. Or we could flip that idea right on its head and say all of these categories need to be linked to Romance.
It’s a long shot, I know. What are the chances that the trend of cowardly runaway fathers will decrease if we make romantic space operas? Or romantic horror-fests? Would it actually get men reading? Would it actually make them more honorable or loyal?
We’ll never know until we try.