I was recently reading about a new Kicktarter project by two sisters who plan to open America’s first exclusively romance bookstore, The Ripped Bodice.
How cool is that??
I like their spirit and their style … and I kind of wish I’d thought of it!
In some ways, however, I totally get why it’s a new concept. After all, I don’t read ONLY romance. I read everything. So why would I want a bookstore that narrows my choices?
Growing up I read mostly science fiction and fantasy, without even realizing there were romances buried in the stories. In my younger years this type of store might not have appealed to me because I wouldn’t have though they’d carry something for me … but an entire section of vampire novels? Oh – that would have gotten me for sure.
What I see now, though, is something a little different. There’s still a stigma against romance books that’s unfair. And it’s not just about how they tell us in the interview that the genre is belittled because of the focus on sex (heck, my favorite stories to tell are the kinky erotic ones), but what bothers me most is that people still belittle romance books because they consider them to be a lesser form of art. Not as important or as complicated or as special. Not as good.
Which is, simply, unfair.
Not that I’m not going to say that there aren’t some really bad romance books out there. I’ve read plenty of bad romance books … but I’ve read bad books from every genre (and non-genre).
And romance can still be high literature. Take Jane Austen or Charlotte Brontë for example. Pride and Prejudice is the ultimate romance novel. Even Wilkie Collins, a contemporary of Charles Dickens, who pretty much single handedly created a new genre (sensational novels) is still considered just that: a genre author. Which sets him aside, separates him… and not in a good way.
Genre readers shouldn’t be looked down upon any more than genre writers should.
And that’s why I love the idea of The Ripped Bodice so much. It will be a refuge. A safe place for people to say, “I like romance books,” and not have to endure snide comments and eye-rolling.
Because we should never be ridiculed for the books we read. We should never be ashamed of them. We should read what we enjoy.
Books are good for us. Every and any type of books. We’re putting new words in our brains. We’re expanding our universe and practicing the most perfect form of escapism
We should be proud of that.
Which is why if I’m ever in L.A. you can bet I’ll be stopping by The Ripped Bodice. To buy some books, and to shake hands with these wonderful, proud, rightly non-apologetic women. Smart women. Who read romance books.
You can read more about The Ripped Bodice at RT Book Reviews, and on their Kickstarter page.
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Kisses ~ Keri
(photo source; illustration source)