Love 'em read 'em—February 13, 2004
Love ‘em or not, romance novels account for more than 50 percent of the paperback fiction market. One in five book readers last year, read a romance novel according to statistics of the RWA (Romance Writers of America). Incredible as these claims seem, they are consistent with circulation estimates at Hastings Public Library, as well.
At HPL those looking for love will find it numbering into the thousands – in books, that is, and boasting circulation figures that beat all other genres.
Today’s romance fiction is smart, fresh and diverse and is crossing over to other literary genres. Readers who enjoy contemporary dialogue, historical settings, mysteries, thrillers, paranormal, science fiction or any number of other themes, can find it in a romance novel.
Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending. Causing a weepy-eyed, sentimental reader to go through the better part of a box of tissues is optional.
A central love story in a romance novel means that the main plot centers around two individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the relationship conflict is the main focus of the story.
As for providing an emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending, the romance novel is based on the notion that good people in the world are rewarded and evil people are punished. Lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love. . .a happily-ever-after ending.
Once the central love story and optimistic-ending criteria are met, a romance novel can be set anywhere and involve any number of plot elements. These settings and distinctions of plot create specific subgenres within romance fiction.
RWA 2008 award winners include Victorian romance, “The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever” by Julia Quinn; romantic suspense, “Ice Blue” by Anne Stuart; and “Silent in the Grave” by Deanna Raybourn.
Look for romance paperbacks at the library in one easy-to-browse section of shelving on the second floor fiction room. Romance titles that have garnered HPL’s higher level of status (hardbacks, series fiction or those authored by a Nebraskan) can be spotted on general and new fiction shelves wearing a little heart sticker helpfully placed on the spine by library staff.
If you’re more comfortable with something already dazzling readers across the country, give your heart to a NY Times bestseller, “Fire and Ice” by Julie Garwood, “Temptations of the Night” by Lauren Willig and “Firefly Lane” by Kristin Hannah, to name a few on this week‘s list.
A growing number of love stories are available in large print, audio formats and in Spanish.
Romance readers will want to be sure to attend the Friends of Hastings Public Library’s “Just Romance” used book sale, this weekend – 9-5, Saturday, Feb. 14 and 1-5 Sunday February 15 at the library. Thousands of gently-used romance paperbacks will be for sale for 50 cents each along with non-fiction marriage and family relations books and new Valentine merchandise. Shoppers will have the option of purchasing a Friends’ membership with a canvas bag which they may stuff with romances for free.
Find love at the library!