Every year in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day and on the holiday itself, the radio station I listen to every morning engages in a tradition that always gets under my skin. They call it “Romantic Ramblings,” and it involves sending one of the on-air DJs from the morning drive team over to nearest Walgreens, where he (always a he) selects a romance novel off the shelf, opens to a random page, and begins reading the “smut” he finds inside.
The DJ is instructed to select the book with the most extreme cover, and given that he always – always – manages to select a page that contains some kind of physical interaction between the hero and heroine, you have to wonder how random his selection process truly is. No romance, not even the bodice rippers of old, contains sex on every single page but he manages to hit pay dirt 100% of the time. The folks back in the studio giggle and joke while bow-chicka-wow-wow music plays in the background. Despite the bit’s title – “Romantic Ramblings” – there’s nothing romantic about it. It’s more titillating in that thirteen-year-old boys ogling contraband copies of Playboy sort of way. Continue reading
During my book club’s latest meeting, a friend who’d seen the play version of a novel most of us had read, showed around some leaflets of the production and asked whether the two actors who played the leads were in accordance with how we’d imagined them. This lead to a rather funny moment, because of the six women present, three instantly claimed they never visualize the main protagonists of any novel they read, whereas the other three said they visualized them without fail, and that watching a stage or movie production later with actors that didn’t fit with their expectations, could ruin the play or film for them.
I never ever fully visualize people in books. I do kind of register their attributes – what hair color, tall or tiny, a scar etc. – but I never give them a real face. As a result, while I am bothered by actors (or even cover images) not fitting the descriptions in the books, like Emma Watson’s hair being all wrong for Hermione, as long as the actors’ looks don’t contradict what is said about these people in the book, I’m fine with about any actor.
For the third time in five years, I’ve actually been asked to either put up my book or leave a public place because people find my reading material offensive. The most recent offender? The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie (a fantastic book, by the way). Now, as romance covers go, this one really isn’t so bad - not nearly as racy as Must Have Been the Moonlight, which got me a lecture on the treadmill at my gym. These incidents sometimes make me want to break out the worst 80s clinch cover I can get my grubby paws on, but more seriously, they also make me think about the disconnect between why many of us read romance and what people think when they see us reading romance.