From the “Oh, For Fuck’s Sake” Department

Nikki Lomax-Larson of Military Spouse Magazine has a bit of a problem. She’s a big reader.

That’s not the actual problem. Well, there’s multiple problems from where I sit. There’s her admission of secretly desiring to be the creme filling in a Weasley sandwich, and her statement that voracious childhood reading caused her to wear bifocals by third grade.

And then there’s this paragraph, which is a light, moist, seven-layer cake of problems:

But the one genre I never, ever touched was romance.  I couldn’t bring myself to sample the “junk food” of the literary world.  That was, until my husband deployed last October.  And now I am hooked.  Oh the shame!  I am so desperate for romance and happy endings that I fork over good money to read about fictional characters “getting off.”

How do I know I’m an addict?  Well, yesterday I dropped $100 on Nora Roberts’ books and some other “chick lit” books I found on sale.  The call of the “BUY 4, GET THE 5TH FREE” sign was too great a temptation to resist, and I was scooping paperbacks with cheesy illustrated covers into my basket like a crackhead going after dime bags.

Like a corner junkie picking cigarette butts off the concrete, I found myself crouched down in the aisle at Borders.  I hoped that no one would see me as I randomly picked books off the shelves, quickly assessed their rush-giving potential and either tossed them in my basket or back on the shelf.  I probably looked guilty as hell, and ashamed too.  Every time someone walked by the romance section I’d either duck or pretend to be looking at the books on tape.  I even bought “books to cover the fact that I’m buying naughty books” books.

I doubt I fooled anyone.  I definitely wasn’t fooling myself.  I remember swearing that I’d never become one of “those women.”  Egads, I’m now one of “those women” who own more trashy, paperback bodice-rippers than classics.

Anyone know how to break this habit before hubby comes back?

Oooh, boy.


I suggest a three step “You’re Being a Douchebag So Step Away From the Romance” recovery plan.

Step 1: Grab a ladder

Step 2: Get the fuck over yourself already

Step 3: See step 1.

I love the idea that buying romance from a troubled national bookstore is akin to buying drugs for a crackhead, or picking cigarette butts off the concrete. That’s just wholesome right there. God forbid anyone should read books about loving relationships, sexual exploration and happiness, particularly while one’s military spouse is deployed.

From the fallacy that Nora Roberts’ novels are bodice rippers to the part where she’s into the part where the characters get off, and now assesses books for their “rush-giving potential,” this whole column is a head-desk and a half.

I’d love to state my now-standard “Why be ashamed of what you read?” response, because my general attitude is that no one has the right to criticize my choice of entertainment if that entertainment isn’t hurting anyone.

But I’m more inclined to get the poor woman a vibrator to satisfy her need for a “rush,” and while she’s busy, sneak in and find loving, appreciative homes for all her romance novels. If this was her attempt to find commiserating romance readers, boy shitcakes, did she wiff that one with me.

If anything, I’d like some advice to help her cure herself of this habit so there’s more romance for the rest of us to buy. Any ideas?

[Thanks to Kerri-Leigh for the link.]


Ranty McRant

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Theresa Meyers says:

    Perhaps she should toddle on over to the classical literature section and pick up a copy of Pride and Prejudice to assuage her fixation on “trash” and read a real “good” book.  Wait!  Oh, noes!  That’s romance too!!!! 

    *head desk* Seriously, are people that hung up on themselves that the truly believe everybody else has nothing better to do than watch them shop for books!?!?!

    I’m with Sarah. Get a ladder. Get over yourself. Read Romance and quit be ashamed you’ve actually found something that’s entertaining and that has a happy ending!

    Bwahaha, OMG *wipes tears from eyes*. The spaminator strikes again! self69

  2. 2

    Someone tell her that no sane hubby will mind this habit of hers.  And show her that survey/study that concludes women who read romances have better love lives.

    And maybe we should send her some real erotic stuff to “get off” to, to cure her of her Nora habit.  :-)

  3. 3

    Anyone know how to break this habit before hubby comes back?

    Turn in your vagina, you’re making me embarrassed to be the same gender as you.

  4. 4
    Anya says:

    I want to know how everyone who has never read a romance novel somehow
    “knows” to call them bodice rippers.  Was there some secret non-romance readers
    vocabulary class I missed in school?

    Anyway, what this woman needs is self-confidence.  She needs to visit the self
    help section of the bookstore before she can enjoy the romance section.

  5. 5
    Midknyt says:

    While the crack addict comparison was a nice touch, as well as the impressive bifocal problem, I especially liked the concern on how to break the habit before hubby comes back.

    I can picture it now.  He gets to return home earlier than anticipated, and decides to surprise her with the good news in person.  He’s been gone a long while, fighting the good fight, and while it was hard to go on at times, the thought of her faithfully waiting for him gave him the will to keep going.  He quietly lets himself into the house, and heads upstairs to their bedroom, where the light is spilling out from beneath the closed door.  As he slowly walks closer, he hears something that seems a bit amiss.  He bursts open the door to greet his wife that he’s missed for so long, but the “Surprise!” dies in his throat.  To his horror, he sees her there, shame at being caught red-handed all over her face, as he finds her in bed with…a romance novel!  The horror!  How could she betray him like this?!?  Was war not cruel enough???

    Seriously.  The shame, oh the shame.

    Maybe someone should point out she can read from the comfort of her own home without anyone being the wiser, and it’s even free.  Then you don’t have to waste the time reading through all that literary junk food to get to the good parts.  -commencing eye rolling-

  6. 6
    Larissa Ione says:

    Wow.  I left a comment, but she probably won’t see it.

    I AM a military spouse, AND I write those “junk food” novels, and wow, it’s nice to see such support amongst us. Grr.

  7. 7
    KCfla says:

    I want to know how everyone who has never read a romance novel somehow
    “knows” to call them bodice rippers.  Was there some secret non-romance readers
    vocabulary class I missed in school?

    Anya, I’d like to know that one myself. Anyone using that term around me gets the *KC-stare-from-Hell* and believe me ( or my kids lol!) it ain’t pretty!

    Anyone know how to break this habit before hubby comes back?

    Turn in your vagina, you’re making me embarrassed to be the same gender as you.

    Ms. Armintrout FTW!
    ( off to find rag to clean off my monitor/keyboard!)

  8. 8
    Barb Ferrer says:

    Turn in your vagina, you’re making me embarrassed to be the same gender as you.

    Moooooooommmmm!  Jennifer made me snort iced tea up my nose!!

    I hope to hell that this magazine gives equal space to one of our romance reading or better yet, writing military spouses to counter this bullshit.  Because I know we’ve got plenty of them—smart, self-assured women who are proud of what they read and write and don’t feel a need to denigrate it in order to boost their own self-esteem.

  9. 9

    I know at least one romance novelist who literally has a boatload of fans, on board Navy ships. And they’re men.

  10. 10
    Barb Ferrer says:

    And OMG, I was howling laughing when I went over there and the banner at the bottom of the comments was a big advertisement for Kresley Cole’s KISS OF A DEMON KING.

  11. 11

    If she considers Nora Roberts books about people getting off I think her head might explode if she picked up Lora Leigh.  I think I will suggest that to her on the blog. 

    I have zero issues buying romance and especially paranormal romance novels.  My hubby did his military time and every wednesday we go to the book store so I can get another armload of books in this genre.

    I find Romance to be far less “same story different book” than the suspense/mystery/thriller genres which seems to be the same book over and over and over.  Bad guy chased by gritty unwashed good guy/gal with a drinking problem or mommy issues who has to experience the horrible darkness of the insane killer’s mind but finds his/her salvation in solving the mystery.  Whatever.  Give me a good ballsy female and a yummy alpha male who argue and fret and get it on monkey style any day of the week.  Hell throw a vamp or shape shifter in there and I am a goner. 

    Women need to get over it with regard to romance being some sort of stigma.  I consider myself smarter than the average bear, have a great job, a great marriage and certainly do not need the books to compensate for something missed in the bedroom.  I read romance because I like a happy ending.  I like the banter.  I like the genre period.  I doubt anyone would have the balls to call me on it more than once…i am a tad mouthy about such things.

  12. 12
    Kim says:

    Can I just ask what is wrong with people? (not that I expect an answer) Who freakin’ cares what you’re buying, lady? I know I don’t stand there in the bookstore worrying about “oh god, what will people THINK???!!???” I buy what I wanna buy, unapologetically. Grow up, is what I have to say to that.

    Sorry, got my rant on a bit there.

    And Nora, if you see this—I freakin’ LOVE your books, even the old Silhouettes (just scored a couple of those I hadn’t read, actually) and so on. And I’m proud to tell anyone who will listen that I love your stuff.

    strong49—why yes, I DO have a strong opinion, how did you know?

  13. 13
    JenB says:

    God forbid anyone should read books about loving relationships, sexual exploration and happiness, particularly while one’s military spouse is deployed.

    Come on now. You know if a book doesn’t make you want to jump off the nearest bridge or cut your wrists with a plastic knife in a fit of emo despair, it isn’t “quality reading”.

  14. 14
    Jennifer says:


    Same thing holds for movies.  If it isn’t boring the shit out of you and about someone being sexually molested, against the war, or a pair of guy friends who’s pathetic life revolves around Pinot Noir that made me want to open a vein twenty minutes in, it isn’t Oscar Worthy.

  15. 15
    Barb Ferrer says:

    Come on now. You know if a book doesn’t make you want to jump off the nearest bridge or cut your wrists with a plastic knife in a fit of emo despair, it isn’t “quality reading”.

    Or an Oprah Bookclub Selection.

    Oops, that was my out loud voice again, wasn’t it?

  16. 16
    Jennifer says:

    If Oprah has it in her Book club that is pretty much going to assure I will not read it.  In fact it is possible I will turn all the copies I see on the shelf around so the cover is obscured.  Petty?  Yeah, I can be that way. :)

  17. 17

    Perhaps she should wear a scarlet A upon her breast so that all might know of her shame.


    Sorry, I just don’t buy the idea that reading books with sex is something shameful that should be kept a dirty little secret.  That’s a sadly Puritanical way of thinking.

  18. 18
    rebyj says:

    Gawd all of web land would hear me squealing if I had 100 bux to spend on books at one time LOL.

    I say leave the woman alone, she needs recommendations not recriminations just a few more books and we’ll have her over to the cool side gobbling up romances proudly and defending it to all who will stand still long enough to listen. She’ll have a redface of shame for her former thoughts on romance, a Goodreads page and a blog before you know it.

  19. 19
    Katherine says:

    I knew something wasn’t right as soon as she mentioned “Billy Shakespeare” and immediately followed that with “William Faulkner”. It feels like calling California “Cali” or San Francisco “Frisco”, two things most Californians try to never do?

  20. 20
    Miri says:

    A hundred dollars to spend on books? Cripes that’s a lot!  I would say she’s hooked already. Once you go “ripper” everything else is a dripper! Oh gawd sorry…more coffee needed.  Her article reads like a Penthouse confession. Lonely military wife, yadda, yadda. And what if she dosent stop reading romance after her Husband comes home? Is she suggesting the thrill she’s found reading romance is far more than she’s known?

  21. 21
    C.M. says:

    Ouch. Let us not be severe upon the poor lost lamb, for she knows not the way. There is much stigma of the romance novel. One has to be comfortable with love and sexuality thus not associating shame with these concepts. Many of us who read romance have known these dark thoughts and may they not come upon us again!

    Let us pray that she will discover that romance is a gloriously female genre, and empower herself against the anti-female ideas—anti-human ideas—that whatever is percieved as solely female is somehow shameful or inferior.

  22. 22
    Madd says:

    Turn in your vagina, you’re making me embarrassed to be the same gender as you.

    I’d offer to bear your children if I didn’t already have three of them.

    I have an idea that might help the crack lady. She could just give me the money she was about to spend on romance books and that way she can’t afford to buy them and I can.

    Seriously, I wish I had this woman’s book buying budget.

  23. 23
    Lori Borrill says:

    WOW.  If she gets this freaked out over buying a book, I can only wonder how traumatic it must be to run out of toilet paper and tampons.  Imagine the horror of having walk through Piggly Wiggly with each and every customer assessing the contents of her cart and realizing that—gasp!—she poops!!

  24. 24
    Suze says:

    I think the article is kind of hopeful, actually.  A literary snob is testing the waters, timidly venturing out of the serious lap-lanes, and easing her way slowly into the hot tub party of luurve.

    So, she’s been a book snob since university at least, and now she’s starting to realize what she’s been missing.  Give her a year or two and she’ll be pimping romances out to everybody she knows, annoying them to no end with exhaustive arguments about how GOOD romances are.

    This is pretty cool.  Another one has come over to the pink side.

    The comments under her article are great, too, along the lines of:

    But guess what, no one cares if you read romance anymore. It’s the biggest selling genre – billions of dollars in market share out there. And it isn’t called bodice ripper trash anymore either. Sorry but all of your self imposed humiliation and shaming was for nothing. And you can ditch the spotlight affect on yourself too, no one cares what you buy in the bookstore. Why be guilty for buying a good book with a happy ever after? Big deal? Sorry but your about 30 years too late in your “like omg I have such a dirty secret” dept.

    My verdict:  she’s becoming un-dumb.  (It’s a slow process for some of us.)

  25. 25
    Nancy says:

    Whoa. Is there a word for women who are complete and utter tools? Tool-ette?

  26. 26
    Anon76 says:

    You know, I just realized that I’ve never, ever been ashamed of picking and choosing what novels I want to read, no matter where I was purchasing them from. Nor the content.

    My reading tastes are all over the board depending on my mood, and while romances reflect the majority of my purchases, I buy and read what strikes my fancy. Even poorly written bios or equally poorly written books based on interviews with serial killers.

    None of this brings me shame. Nor does the term “bodice ripper”.

    I have however winced a time or two when buying a mag like National Enquirer. But hey, sometimes they follow great scoops that seem fanatical at first, then pan out to have a lot of basis in fact. (Minus some of the totally whacked stories, of course.)

    I’m a reader, and I will read what I want. Get over yourselves if you don’t like it.

  27. 27
    JenB says:

    Jennifer & Barb – Oprah’s endorsement on a book is basically my “Do Not Buy” standard.

    And dude…totally right about movies. If your eyes aren’t bleeding, your heart isn’t broken, and your ears aren’t sizzling from 67 instances of the f-word, you can bet it won’t get nominated for the big awards.

    God forbid entertainment actually entertain us.

  28. 28
    Rosemary says:

    Wait.  So I’m supposed to be mbarrassed to have the same fantasy about the Weasley twins?

    I mean, there is a certain amount of shame, but it’s a pretty common thought…

  29. 29

    I’m with Suze here; yes, the column invokes romance-stereotyping tropes, but the prose itself is well-written and the humor is essentially self-deprecating rather than genre-deprecating.  The one point I’d mark as worth correcting via comments is the implicit assumption that all romances are “naughty” (i.e. loaded with explicit sex); that’s a generalization that doesn’t hold particularly true.

    I also think it may be a mistake to judge this particular column in isolation; if the kind of gentle self-mockery I see in the tone of the prose is a reflection of the author’s regular work for this publication, her regular readers are likely to see the material very differently than are outsiders like us, coming in cold with little background or context.

  30. 30
    JoanneL says:

    To Midknyt—- LMAO!—- yes I can see that scenario, I can see it now and it makes me roar with laughter. Thanks for that!

    As for Ms Lomax-Larson, I just have a feeling her spouse has other things on his tired mind besides what she’s reading and she probably knows that all too well. Poor thing, I think she was trying to be funny and ended up sounding stupid.

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