Book Bully

meangirlsThis summer I had quite the shock when I discovered that my son’s peers could actually influence his reading choices at the tender age of eight.  Clothes were already an issue, but poor, naïve me didn’t realize book characters also radiate a sense of coolness or lameness among the younger set.  My world tipped when my darling son made the statement, “Harry Potter’s lame.  Insert name of cool neighbor kid here said so.”

Upon hearing this, I began to sputter, ask questions rapidly, and get really, really defensive.  Things like, “How do you know?  Have you read Harry Potter?  What makes cool neighbor kid an expert on Harry Potter? Harry Potter is soooo not lame,” all began to fly at my poor, defenseless son who really had no logical reply.  I don’t count, “Because he’s 12!” as a logical reply, at least not yet anyway.

In order to convince my dear son that it’s okay to like things your friends may not necessarily like, I decided we would make Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone a chapter a night project accompanied by bean bags, blankets, and the play room floor.  Unfortunately, my brilliant idea was met with resistance as Harry Potter was still considered lame by both my kids (my five year old seemed to be infected by peer pressure too).  As the deal making began, I promised one chapter and to stop pestering them if they weren’t interested and didn’t want to continue.   By the end of the first chapter, I could tell that both were grudgingly interested.  They didn’t want to be, but they were.  By the end of the second night, they were practically begging for more and would late ask me to read to them during the day.  They haven’t asked to read another since then and I haven’t applied any pressure.  They gave me the one book and no longer think Harry is lame:  It worked this time and I’m happy.

I wish getting people to accept romance were as simple as persuading an eight year old to give a book a try.  We all hear and read the negative comments aimed at the romance genre and I’ll admit that I don’t advertise the fact I read it voraciously.  Those who know me know what I read and I know which of my friends and acquaintances read romance as well.  Since I’ve been reading, the only person I’ve tried to bring over to the “dark” side is my sister.  On my last attempt at conversion, I picked up the books Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas, Match Me If You Can and Heaven, Texas both by Susan E. Phillips.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t successful but I refuse to give up.

Have you been a book bully and successfully introduced someone to romance? If so, how did you do it? Or, is it even worth it?

- Heather AAR

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10 Responses to Book Bully

  1. farmwifetwo says:

    I read all genres so I’ve never peddalled one over the other. I find it isn’t the genre as much as reading that’s the issue. The “when do you find the time” comments I get.

    It isn’t worth the hassle. Like minds can be found online, and that works for me.

  2. msaggie says:

    I tend to agree with farmwifetwo. I have successfully recommended Marsha Moyer’s Lucy Hatch books (starting with The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch) and Tim Farrington’s The Monk Downstairs and Upstairs to non-romance reader friends who have loved them. The books one enjoys are in a way quite personal, and you can’t really impose your tastes on others (I think of it the other way round – I don’t read horror books, and would be quite resistant to reading one even when recommended by a good friend).

  3. SarahF says:

    I’ve never actually actively tried to convince a nonromance reader to read the genre. I’ve definitely gotten the snotty comments from friends about reading choices, things like “Oh Sarah is reading one of her smut books again.” Of course it’s said as joke, but that does keep from sharing some of my most favorite books with them. Once when a friend stayed the night with me, she started reading one of my Rachel Gibson’s. I don’t think she was comfortable with it though, because she didn’t read very much and didn’t ask to borrow the book. It is a little disappointing not to be able to share with my friends something that I get so much enjoyment from.
    The one person who actually will read my romances is my grandmother. And while she loves when I pick out a good one for her, lets just say I’m not the most comfortable sitting down and discussing some of the finer points of romance novels with her.

  4. Xina says:

    I don’t advertise my reading choices. So many don’t understand the romance genre, and I really don’t want to waste my breath explaining it. I have to say some of the covers really don’t help the cause. I have had some luck with some of my non romance reading friends with several books with a strong romance within the story….Bitten, Lucy Hatch, Something Borrowed and even a Putney book. My DIL reads romance…openly, and is proud of it, so I at least have her to discuss books.

  5. Rike says:

    You have just inspired me to reread some of the Harry Potter novels.

  6. Diana says:

    Even us librarians, surrounded by books, occasionally fall into a reading slump. My supervisor was jonesing for something different. She’s not a big romance reader, but she does like fantasy, so I pushed her into trying JR Ward’s series. I think she’s read them all now.

    Meanwhile, another coworker won’t read anything if she thinks its romance – so we recommend books to her as being urban fantasy or paranormal. She’s read a lot of romance without even knowing it.

  7. AAR Heather says:

    @ SarahF – I get the smut comments from a particular member of my family, but I know he’s only messing around when he makes the comments. But sometimes….
    @farmwifetwo, msaggie, and Xina – My sister is really the only one I bother with and well that’s just because she’s my sister. I think the only reason she won’t pick them up is because both me and my mom read them. She does like her “chick lit” though.
    @ Diana – That’s funny. I know someone who claims she doen’t read romance but she has read all of the J.D. Robb books. I laugh a little everytime I hear her say something about it.
    @ Rike – Glad to be of help;-)

  8. Carrie says:

    My daughter has always enjoyed Georgette Heyer, but had never read much romance besides that. I gave her Finders Keepers by Linnea Sinclair one day when she was out of reading material. I knew she enjoyed fantasy and sci-fi, so I thought Sinclair would be a good choice. Hannah (my daughter) read every one of her books within a week or two. After that, Hannah asked me for more suggestions, and I gave her Jayne Castle’s Amaryllis. Since then, she’s all of that series, plus the entire Arcane Society series. She also read all of Lara Adrian’s Midnight Breeds series, and some of the BDB and Jeanienne Frost’s Cat and Bones books.

    For a while Hannah looked askance at my “romance” books, but now she seems to understand the appeal. She, like me, enjoys the fact that the books leave you mostly happy, with the HEA pretty much a forgone conclusion.

    Other than Hannah, I haven’t tried to get anyone else to read romance books. Most of my friends come from a fairly conservative crowd, and books with sex in them aren’t well thought of. I don’t generally care. Although I do wish the covers weren’t so cringe-worthy at times! I have passed up buying books that had embarrassing covers, no matter how good the book was suppose to be. The Kindle helps with that.

  9. Cindy says:

    I converted a friend a few years back. I just took what I knew about her tastes in books and found a romance that aligned with those tastes. Let’s face it, romance novels come in soooo many subgenres that just about anyone can find something they like. For my friend, I knew she was crazy, addicted to Pride and Prejudice so I recommended romances that were very history heavy and had an epic feeling. I started her with Beloved Enemy by Jane Feather and followed up with Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen Woodiwiss. After that she was completely hooked and now sends me books she thinks I will like. :) SUCCESS!!!

  10. BULLY is a riveting story of adolescent rage and bloody revenge–all the more harrowing and horrific because its true.

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