WHY CAN’T ROMANCE NOVELS GET ANY LOVE? Earlier this year, Emma Pearse had an article at the Smithsonian site entitled: “Why Can’t Romance Novels Get Any Love?” She pointed out that detective stories, science fiction, and fantasy novels all receive academic attention, but romance novels do not. Yet “more than half of the mass market paperbacks sold in the US are popular romance novels”. Pearce finds some comfort in the fact that the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance was founded in 2007, and a peer-reviewed journal, The Journal of Popular Romance Studies, was founded in 2010.
I think that genre fiction in general does not receive enough respect. Pearse makes a convincing case that the romance novel genre doesn’t receive enough respect even compared to other genres, and now that I am a reader of romance novels, I am surprised that this is so. After all, the subject of romances is inexhaustible—the difficulties and rewards of two people trying to explore a life together. There are millions of stories out there.
It may be that readers form their love for other genres when they are younger, while interest in romance comes with adulthood —I remember a literature teacher saying to me how difficult it is to get an adolescent boy interested in love stories when he has never encountered the issues. In any event, I became a detective story reader with Sherlock Holmes when I was about 10, and detective stories will always be my genre of choice.