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Barbara Cartland may not be wholly responsible for the way the whole romance genre is perceived, but I don’t think that her brand of romance helped. I think her legacy of bodice rippers and quivering maidens, will forever remain in the psyche of non-romance readers.

As a romance reader growing up, I was pilloried by my peers for reading ‘those’ kind of books. Of course I didn’t help matters by acting ashamed of what I was reading. Sure I read books like, Anne of Green Gables, or even Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books, it didn’t bother me that people knew that I read these kind of books. I was proud to hold them aloft, and let the world see what they were. I knew that I wouldn’t be judged for reading them, whereas my Silhouette Desire offerings, which generally depicted a man and a woman in an amorous clinch on the front cover, were something to be ashamed of as far as I was concerned.

Things have changed since then, but I wonder how many women still hide the cover of their romance books, when in public? I mean really, if you think about it, how many times have you sat on a train and seen somebody actually reading a romance book, with the cover showing so that the other passengers couldn’t help but see it?


I travel by train a lot when I visit London, which from my town is generally a 3 hour journey, and I can honestly say, that I never have. I’ve seen plenty of people reading Tom Clancy and John Grisham-type books, but not ‘obvious’ romance’s. I think that’s really sad, and as long as readers, and authors alike don’t stand up, and say, “yeah, I read/write romance books, so what of it”, we’ll continually have the so-called ‘serious book readers/writers’ looking down their noses at us, even though we all know that romance books account for something like 50% of overall readership.

6 Comments »


  • Dawn
    April 14
    4:31 pm

    I will hold my hand up to being a former hide-the-cover-of-the-romance-book reader.

    However, in the past couple of years, I’ve decided “Sod it! I love reading these books, so I’m not going hide it.”

    I’ve read my books on the train, in the crowd of parents waiting to pick my daughter up from Brownies at the in-laws (and they are VERY disparaging about it). I’ve even read them in the canteen at work.

    I’m always promoting the romance genre, by telling everyone (who are probably sick to death of hearing from me) that I don’t want to read horror or thrillers or murder suspense types, because I enjoy reading about relationships that have a happy ending and put a smile on my face.

    Say it loud, I’m a romance reader and proud!

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  • Tammy
    April 14
    4:58 pm

    I also used to hide my books, I’m not sure why I was ashamed, I just was, but nowadays, I don’t care so much, and you’re right, I haven’t ever seen anybody reading a hot romance in public. I’m out and proud too!

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  • Paz
    April 17
    9:04 pm

    You’ve got a point there. Don’t hide it and be proud. Long time ago I used read my Harlequin and other romances on the subway. Don’t do it anymore. Not because I’m ashamed but because I don’t want to be bothered. Inevitably, there’s always someone who wants to give their unwanted opinion about my book when they see the cover. I’m like, “leave me alone, I just want to read in peace!” Years ago, on the subway, this man started yelling after me as I tried to get away from him. He had noticed that I was reading a book in Latin (I was in school studying classics). He was so upset. “Latin is a dead language!” and he yelled some other obscenities. I have a feeling that he would have prefered to see me with a romance in my hand. Maybe he would have left me alone.

    Paz 😉

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  • Karen Scott
    April 18
    3:56 pm

    LOL!! Dawn & Tammy, think the older you get, the less you care about these things, it certainly doesn’t bother me now, but looking back, I just think, what was the big deal, but lots of people still hide their romance books when in public.

    Paz, why do you think this guy started shouting obscenities at you? If I saw anybody reading a latin book, I’d be really impressed! Aren’t some people strange?

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  • Paz
    April 19
    11:59 am

    Why was he upset that I was reading Latin? I have no idea. Unfortunately, there are a lot of psychos out there, ya know. I was already suffering from trying to dechiper what I was reading. Didn’t need anyone cursing me out for it. LOL!

    Paz

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  • Kim
    April 24
    12:58 pm

    I must admit, I used to hide my books from sight too, but I’m a romance reader and proud of it now!

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