Click here for full forums index
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 
Why read Romance?; Realism Vs Fiction
Goto page Previous  1, 2
Post new topic   Reply to topic    AAR Forum Index -> Romance Potpourri Forum
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message

Joined: 11 Apr 2007
Posts: 250

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why do I read romance? Because I like it. That's the same reason I read science fiction, mysteries, fantasy and young adult novels.

I don't have to justify my reading choices. I also enjoy reading biographies of historical personages, which makes sense since I have a degree in history with an emphasis on British medieval/Renaissance history. Maybe you would say reading biographies broadens my knowledge of history. Sure. But really, I read it because I enjoy it. I don't have to read it. I finished school 15 years ago, and since I work in finance I'm not really using that degree. So why would I read something I didn't enjoy if it wasn't going to help my education or career?

Do I care whether or not they are realistic? If the story is well written and has grabbed my attention I usually don't care. I certainly don't want to read a romance that makes it plain that the relationship isn't going to last. Then it isn't a romance. Romance (to me) is more than just heading to the bedroom and having a rosy expectation of Happily ever after. Romance is having problems and working it out together because the relationship between the two is more important than the individual self. If either of the partners doesn't feel that way then the relationship will fail. If you asked any couple that has been married 15 years if they had ever thought about divorce I bet 9 out of 10 would say yes.

What I've never understood is why people read books that they don't enjoy. My sister is always talking about a popular book, the sort of extremely well written, weird thing that ends up in some of those book clubs. I joined her book discussion group and had to read several books that I didn't enjoy so that I could discuss those books at the meetings. I bailed out of that group as soon as I could. It wasn't that the books were horrible. The one by Steve Martin was kinda interesting. But I kept waiting to get to the point where I would care about the characters. It never came. What a waste of time! I asked a couple of other members privately if they really enjoyed the books. Most said just that it was very interesting, and it was nice to get out and spend time with other people who had read the same things. A couple flat out said no, they didn't enjoy it, but it was a great way to meet people. I decided they must lead very boring lives.

So thank you very much, I'll stick to reading something I enjoy.

Last edited by Terese on Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail Visit poster's website

Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 6635
Location: minneapolis

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 1:48 pm    Post subject: Re: Romance and Realism, can they co-exist? Reply with quote

So-called literary, or serious fiction just about has to be written with a grim ending, if the author hopes to get some sort of literary prize ... because life is real, life is earnest, and it always ends badly, they contend.

I don't agree, yet I read this opinion all the time, especially on romance novel book boards. I read widely, and some of it is literary fiction...I don't come across an unhappy ending every single time, or even half the time. Perhaps I'm not reading what others refer to, or maybe I'm finding something in the ending that isn't unhappy.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 12 Mar 2008
Posts: 1129
Location: Bremen, Germany

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Elaine S wrote:
I recently saw a wonderful essay by Eloisa James in the Sunday Telegraph magazine here in the UK about why she writes romance and it was a good rebuttal to those who sneer at those who read it. She said:

“In truth, romance readers are not looking for erotic excitement as much as for a strong story. They read with interest, intelligence and passionate engagement.

….. intellectuals never seem to believe that a strong story and in interest in relationships could explain the popularity of romance.”

Is that essay available online? I just checked the Telegraph website and couldn't find it.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website

Joined: 23 Apr 2007
Posts: 469
Location: Las Cruces, New Mexico

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2008 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm more interested in romance as opposed the the straight realism. That said, some unrealistic things can really bother me through a reading and ruin a book for me. I am willing to over look most things however, if the plot is strong enough. So yeah, I'm totally in it for the romance. I do also like stories with strong realistic elements, and I respect an author more when she keeps thing based on the real life.
She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain. -Louisa May Alcott
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message AIM Address Yahoo Messenger MSN Messenger

Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 567

PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 2:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read romance because I want a story that will be character-focused and end happily. That's really about it. I dislike the idea that certain plots or character types can't or shouldn't fall into the 'romance' category, though I know some people feel that some plot elements (other than HEA and a focus on hero/heroine) are required or required not to be there.

I want my characters likeable. By which I don't mean 'perfect'. I don't and never will understand the fascination with 'heroes' who are mean to the heroine endlessly and get away with being called merely 'alpha', but I won't say the books shouldn't be written. characters with flaws are great, but I want to feel like the author KNOWS it's a flaw, and see some character development.

I want my stories to be internally logical, and feel emotionally real. Vampires, magic, werewolves, sure, as long as it makes sense within the story's paradigm, that's cool. But when characters start saying and doing things that make me go 'buh? who ARE you?' I lose interest. And I have quite a bit of tolerance for characters who make stupid mistakes, or act in ways that I might not, but if I feel the character is only doing a particular thing because it needs to move the plot along, and makes no sense for the character as written, the author loses me.

I hate the idea that because I read romance and will accept certain unrealistic premises, that means I can't ever dislike something because it doesn't feel real to me.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:01 am    Post subject: Re: Why read Romance?; Realism Vs Fiction Reply with quote


Missy4u wrote:
I have heard (read) people saying that they would like more "realistic" ends in romance novels. Others have further added that they like endings with twist and that the happily ever after ending is not a reflection of reality.

. . .

So what's your take. why do you read romance novels and do you prefer your romance novels to be more realistic in terms that the ending should reflect real life or HEA.

I never think in "either/or" terms when it comes to my reading. Fiction can be realistic--even the most "fantastic" fiction. A YA author who wrote a futuristic, post-apocalyptic fantasy novel said that she believes in writing the truth. That happens to be what I believe in reading, too. Very Happy

I read Romances because I happen to be drawn to them. *shrug* I have a friend who can't stand Romance, but will read every Medical Thriller she can get her hands on.

I do prefer a certain degree of plausibility--especially when I'm reading a Historical--but I think you will find that a lot of non-Romance readers have a similar requirement. My friend, for instance, will agree that some Medical Thrillers presuppose technology that isn't available to us nowadays; but as long as the science is plausible to her, she will keep reading the book. I'm the same way: as long as the relationship makes sense to me, I will take the Romance seriously.

I want to add that with age I have become more discerning and selective of the romance novels I will read hence the hiatuses from romance fiction. I also find that there is only a handful of readers I will read and that list keeps getting shrinking. The plot lines are being recycled so it is hard to find new exciting GOOD books. I kinda envy the newer read who has just discovered romance fiction.. oh the joys of finding the classics that are out there

I feel the same way, Missy! There are only a few authors I trust not to piss me off (a very personal standard I won't bother to describe Laughing ) and I really drag my feet about trying other writers, no matter how popular or well-established. So I just glom and glom until I can't glom any longer . . .

A few weeks ago, I got a bit tired of Historical Romances. Not that I've read that many and am looking for variety. Jo Beverley, Jo Goodman, Loretta Chase, Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn and only one Mary Balogh are all I've tried so far, so I certainly haven't exhausted the Historical subgenre.

But I've felt drawn to Paranormals, specifically VampRom. I started a thread in the RTR Forum, asking for recs, and ended up going with only two of the writers recommended to me. Razz I'm sure it's my loss, but it's really not my style to read very widely. Smile
"To be in a romance is to be in uncongenial surroundings. To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings, hence to be born into a romance." (G.K. Chesterton)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Elaine S

Joined: 02 Apr 2007
Posts: 685
Location: Rural England

PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Cora who wrote:

Is that essay available online? I just checked the Telegraph website and couldn't find it

No, it's not apparently because I looked when it came out as I referred to it in another post on AAR and would have given a link then. However, I will see if I can scan it somehow and attach it to a further post here. Anyone know how best I can do that? I am not the best techno-geek around. It was really excellent and she made a number of really salient points.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 1513
Location: America

PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2008 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read romance because I'm a reader. I have different expectations of different genres, but I read simply because I like slipping into a world created by someone not myself to gain a perspective on certain themes towards which I gravitate. When I read romance, it is because I like the conflict created by a burgeoning romantic relationship. It's why I seek books outside of the genre with a strong romantic element. Romance is very much a character-based element, and the process of falling in love can show more about a person than going through a difficult time (because difficulties can be temporary--entering a relationship is an everyday trial). I love to read about two protagonists whose lives are rocked by one another and how they deal with it.

I dislike the word "fantasy" because I don't necessarily consider a number of the tropes within the genre to be my particular fantasy, and I dislike the word "escapism" because I don't want to escape my life. I prefer to see reading as controlling the filter of life--which is what I mean when I desire more realistic romances. Realism to me implies more than conflicts created by secret babies, "my momma was a whore so I'm a rake and you must be a whore too," etcetera. I want to read about realistic people falling in love, not this overblown, fantastical and over-the-top world and/or characters frequently seen.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 23 Mar 2007
Posts: 139

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yulie wrote, as credited:

"If you write a story about a soldier going AWOL and kidnapping a pregnant woman and finally shooting her in the head, it's called searingly realistic, even though it's never happened in the history of mankind. Whereas if you write about two people falling in love, which happens about a million times a day all over the world, for some reason or another, you're accused of writing something unrealistic and sentimental" (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0193485/bio)

Back to top

Yes, that seems to wrap it up well enough, at least for me. It's only taken me nearly forty-five years (I'm slow that way) but I believe that at last I've figured it out: the world at-large does not wish anyone happiness, whether flesh-and-blood people or ones fleshed out in print. I think it confuses them. Sorrow, regret, self-doubt, betrayal, and deceit must be thrown in, for good measure.

If they want to call our reading choices escapism, I say let 'em. We'll never change their opinions, and you know what they say about arguing with fools—don't do it. Anyone watching for any length of time will have trouble figuring out who the original one was.
...He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep...
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 26 Jan 2009
Posts: 49

PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the fantasy/sc-fi genre, so I read that for escapism. I prefer the romance I read to have some realism in it. Very Happy
"Want to feel the warmth on my face
Light in darkness, lift me up from here
Give me your whole wings,
To flee from my ivory tower"

Enter- Within Temptation
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 01 Nov 2008
Posts: 117
Location: So Cal

PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be perfectly honest, I need a book to fit into some sort of realistic context - usually historical - in order to engage me. That being said, for school I have to read laundry lists of facts and novels that usually border on the outright depressing. Also, I read books other than romance novels that have a highly esoteric bent.
Ultimately, I live in the real world where things often go wrong - my life tends to prove Murphy's Law. When I read a romance novel, I generally know how it is going to end, and that gives me a certain level of security I don't have in reality. That's why they make me happy.
Intelectually, I see the inconsistencies, improbabilities, and simple errors in a romace novel and can understand why some people trivialize them. However, I can safely connect with these books on an emotional level that can shine some optimism into my often pessimistic frame of mind. At the end of the day, that matters more to me than high-brow critics - many of whom have read few romances, if any - calling for realism.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message

Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1728

PostPosted: Tue Jan 27, 2009 9:29 pm    Post subject: Fiction vs Realism Reply with quote

erhea13 wrote:
At the end of the day, that matters more to me than high-brow critics - many of whom have read few romances, if any - calling for realism.

The problem I have with some literary critics and others is the idea that only tragic endings are realistic. Many people in the Real World are happy, and even if half of marriages end in divorce, then half of marriages stay together, so why shouldn't a HEA be considered realistic?
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    AAR Forum Index -> Romance Potpourri Forum All times are GMT - 5 Hours
Goto page Previous  1, 2
Page 2 of 2

Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum

Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group