NonFiction November: Romance History

I have been meaning to get to these forever it feels like. As someone who found romance novels at 15, they’ve always been a part of my reading life. It was not until I was older that I found out people shunned them. Why? We talk about love all the time (there’s a whole industry making bank on it, from dating apps to the wedding complex), but we don’t want to read stories about it? Weird. These titles were recommended to me to better educate myself on why romance is such an important genre.

This Week’s Topic: The History and Sociology of Romance

Everything I know about Love I Learned from Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell

This one is tricky. The only romances mentioned are largely by and about het white ladies (with Courtney Milan being the only exception as a bi woman of color) and even then, the same are repeated. It shows a very specific time in romance so maybe you’ll find it interesting.

Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches’ Guide to Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan

Another by Sarah Wendell and I believe comes first. I haven’t gotten to it yet, but the previous selection makes me seriously nervous. I hope the examples given are more than just Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me (which is fantastic, don’t get me wrong) and Tessa Dare. I don’t have problems with those authors, but where’s Beverly Jenkins for example?

A Natural History of the Romance Novel by Pamela Regis

Published in 2007 this isn’t going to take into account the current state of romance including the rise of marginalized voices being more prevalent, but it sounds like it’s a good look at romance’s beginnings and middle.

Dangerous Books for Girls: The Bad Reputation of Romance Novels Explained by Maya Rodale

Rodale is one of my favorite romance writers (ask me about Duchess by Design. Sigh) and this book was actually her master’s thesis. I’ve read the first couple chapters, one of which discusses how irritating it is that most people know romance because of a dude. You know the one. Long hair, muscle–y, got smacked in the face with a bird while on a roller coaster.

Women and Romance: a Reader edited by Susan Ostrov Weisser

This one I’m a little wary of. While it was on a list of nonfiction about the romance genre, I have no idea what stance it’s taking because on Goodreads there’s only one written review. It happened to come through my store’s used desk so I snatched it up. I’ll be sure to report back.

Does anyone have a more recent addition to add? Rodale’s was published in 2011 making it the most up to date, but especially in the last few years, giant strides have been made in romance to make it more inclusive (albeit it struggles still as evident in the recent AAR debacle among other events).

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