The Sizzling Summer Book Club has been going on for a few months now, and I’m so pleased that it’s made so many of you happy to have a place to discuss romance. I’ve never been part of any book clubs in real life for very long – somehow the rest of my life interferes, or I can’t get into the books selected. I also had trouble convincing the book clubs I was part of to try a romance.
So check this awesome story from Karen, who convinced a friend of hers to try a romance, AND then convinced her friend to suggest it to her book club:
“Here’s a bit of a long story, but I think it’s worthwhile. I convinced a dear friend to ask her book club to read a romance. They chose Lord of Scoundrels, one of about five I suggested. I also gave my friend a copy of Beyond Heaving Bosoms, which she studied like an undergrad in a really great elective class. Last Tuesday evening they sat around my friend’s pool, drinking margaritas and discussing. This is her edited report:
Of the 9 who’d read the book, 4 said they’d read another right away, and another 5 said it would take 1-5 years before they’d want to pick up another, but they suspected they would. They put the genre, in general, into the fairly predictable, formulaic novel (like mysteries) which (like mysteries) some like and some don’t. That’s to be expected.
The common comments were that the genre is like a classic story line: good hearted (though complex and somewhat difficult) woman meets messed up, but usually salvageable man, events and personalities evolve and man improves/grows. They live happily ever after. This is exactly what the flow diagram of the Old/New Skool genre showed. As women, we all identified with being taught/expecting the white knight, or at least a good match being possible in our lives. One person said she still loved this version of romance and would read another right away because of the familiarity of the story line, and general interest piqued by reading just one.
Another person said that she had had such a troubled life that she wanted to read another because of the premise that good is in each of us, and can emerge given the right circumstance. She still needs this as therapy and enjoyed reading the book a lot.
Yet another said (and we all agreed) that this genre explains a woman’s view of a sexual relationship (vs. a man’s which is visual, slam, bam, have sex and move on) which we all enjoyed. (Being licked from stem to stern as a warm up to sex! Yeah!) This then led to a discussion/listing of the first sexually explicit book we’d read: Marjorie Morningstar, The Fountainhead, The Carpetbaggers, Fanny Hill, Lolita….
The corker of the evening was from another person. She had a[n] alcoholic sister, a beaut[y] who had all men panting for her each time she entered a room. My friend chose to introduce her sister to the romance novel genre for 2 reasons: they are fairly straight forward in story telling and easy to read; and they portray strong women who find good in others and elicit growth in their and the other person’s personality. Her sister and she read these books out loud to each other. This evolved into my friend proposing they try to write a romance novel. They attended the Romance Writer’s Association conference once. They then spent 2 years trying to write one. As my friend said: “Do you know how hard it is to write a convincing sex scene? It’s hard to impossible. They all sound so hysterically funny if not done well!” Her sister [eventually] succumbed to alcoholism. This genre is bitter sweet to my friend; she will read romance novels every now and then but it brings back so much of her sister’s struggles and death it’s still hard for her. But yes, she definitely reads the genre.
DH’s sister insists I gave them one that was too fluffy, and there are much better ones out there. [note: I’ve suggested To Have and to Hold or Flowers From the Storm if she wants to try something truly non-fluffy.]
For now, we’re moving on to The Book Thief, a book about a little girl in Nazi Germany who steals books in order to learn to read, makes friends with an adult Jew her foster family is hiding. While redeeming in terms of the human spirit, and beautifully written and funny, it is a hard read. Maybe another Romance novel following this.
My friend was very brave to present a romance to her club (two of them were flabbergasted when they realized what their July reading was, and who had suggested it). She showered them with statistics, dropped tantalizing email comments on them in the weeks before the discussion, then offered them booze. Seems like it worked.”
Wow. Amazing how one introduction to a strong romance novel can cause such disparate reactions. Have you ever read a romance as part of your book club? Would you want to be part of a local book club that specializes in romance?