I wasn’t always about romance novels by Sarah from Romance Novel Sluts
Growing up, I wasn’t a reader. I watched TV. A lot of TV. From the afternoon cartoons, to Tom Brokaw, to my prime time schedule, to M*A*S*H reruns late a night. I watched Johnny Carson’s monologue when I should have been in bed. The only thing I read willingly was the Sunday comics, the TV schedule, and old Archie comics.
Mom, an avid reader and former librarian, struggled with me, the only non-reader of four children. My reading comprehension suffered all through elementary school. I passed, reading when I really only had to, what I had to, or sometimes when extreme boredom or dire weather conditions were involved.
Fate happens, I suppose. Mom went to work at a cozy family-owned new/used bookstore on the west side of Houston (called Katy Budget Books). A couple of years later, I was hired as temporary help the summer the store moved and reorganized itself, then permanently for shelving books. I shelved children’s books, westerns, war novels, horror, Regency romance, and the budding “weird shelves” (futuristic, fantasy and paranormal romance). It wasn’t until prepping for the store’s semiannual sale one night, as Mom toss historical romances me to mark for the sale boxes, that I started a little stack of books off to the side.
A stack of books I wanted to read.
Books Mom promptly took to examine to see if they were age appropriate for a girl who had never read anything like them, let alone a Barbara Cartland or a Harlequin Romance. These weren’t books where the heroine “ascended to the stars” or was chastely kissed.
While I never got the books I so carefully set aside that night, Mom started me on the Sunfire books (YA historical romances) then moved me to Regency romances (including Janice Bennett’s time travel Regencies). After giving me an old Tapestry to read, I snuck my first Julie Garwood home.
I came fully aware, I believe, of books, and it no longer took boredom or bad weather to get me to want to open one. I read instead of watching TV. I read before switching the light off at night. I read at school, never embarrassed of the bodice ripping clench covers. They were a badge of achievement for me. It made me laugh every time a boy in class asked me, in a whisper, “Is it true there is sex in those books?” I would look at them, smile, and say, “Yes.”
I knew I wasn’t reading them for the sex. I was reading them for the way they made me feel: Happy, good, content, joyful, empowered. I still read them now to recharge my mind so I can take on the world.
There are days now, I just have to read a romance. Like pulling weeds. Sometimes, I just have to pull weeds. I do it not for the action, but how it makes me feel. My husband doesn’t seem to understand that.