Certain genres have been given bad reputations for the past few years. Some have been called “too airy” or “feminine”, and the stereotypes have to stop. So quit being a book racist and open that pathetic excuse you call a “brain”.
The romance genre has received an unfair reputation from men for a long time. I admittedly used to be one of those people who scoffed at the genre and dismissed it because it was filled with “lovey-dovey femininity”. I used to be the guy who would turn his back on the skin-exposed embraces of Romance section in Barnes & Noble. I was biased and stuck to my fantasy comfort zone, with no chance of looking elsewhere. But one day, something happened.
A friend of mine had written a romance novel and asked me to review a free copy. Why not, it’s free. No money out of your pockets. I thought. So I locked myself away, cracked open the novel, and flipped through the pages. And you know what? I can proudly say it was better than I had ever imagined. It was filled with principles and raw emotion that I had never experienced in other genres. There were twists and turns, each weighty word seemingly crafted by the delicate hands of Roman gods. I devoured the book (figuratively of course, under no circumstance should you eat a book – ever) and gave it a 4 star review for the delight I had in reading.
That book was my gateway into the romance genre and I’ve read two more romance novels since then. Sadly, the last two weren’t as good, but I feel like their interesting aspects like witty dialogue have helped to improve my perspective and writing for the better. The romance genre is not what critics have stereotyped to be. It is a powerful genre forged with deep emotion and powerful characterizations. The twists and turns, the ups and downs, the gasps and laughter are fond memories I have from those books. I can now proudly add romance to the list of novels I read, and all I had to do was open my stubborn mind.
Romance novels aren’t the only ones affected by this ignorance. Many people dismiss comic books and graphic novels as being mindless collections of scribbles, and that’s not true at all. Comic books and graphic novels are often filled with potent dialogue and up-tempo pacing that puts readers at the edge of their seats.
The experience has forced me to wonder – What other genres am I being a book racist towards? Well I haven’t even touched sci-fi or western, and I don’t read nearly enough mystery or horror, so why not give those a try and see what unique aspects they present?
Every genre has something special to offer us as readers. So go to your favorite bookstore and wander over to an unfamiliar genre. Say hi and introduce yourself. It’s okay to be nervous, but don’t worry, books only wants to be loved, they won’t bite. I promise. What do you have to lose? If you don’t like a novel, return it. If things go well? Then you’ve made yourself a new friend to spend your days and nights with, reading under the blankets with a flashlight in hand.