The ebook of Dangerous Books for Girls, Maya Rodale’s nonfiction book on romance novels, is on sale for $2.99. This book, published in May 2015, is based on Ms. Rodale’s master’s thesis which examined the stigma attached to consumption of this genre.
As a reader–and now, writer–of romance novels, this study fascinates me. Even when I was young, I was never ashamed of reading them because I was known as a math nerd. Nobody maligned me for my choice of reading materials. The only reason I hid books within the folds of the skirt of my uniform was that I was not supposed to be reading during school hours, and not because of the subject of my book. I would have done the same for a Shakespeare or a Charles Dickens title. But then, it’s probably because I grew up in the Philippines, where you’re encouraged to improve your English as best as you can. Reading anything in the language was an accepted–even approved–means of doing that.
I never knew that Americans are looked down on when they read romance. That was weird to me because most of the books I read in Manila were from the US. Even when I came to the US in 2005, I was still oblivious. Had I been interviewed for this study, I would have been one of the “50% of romance readers who love the genre and don’t care who knows it”. I surely would have answered that romance novels make me happy.
As a writer, I am encouraged by this infographic. Especially as I’m hoping to address the lack of diversity in characters and settings issue mentioned here. I hope my multicultural, contemporary novels set in Southeast Asia will find a place in the romance readers’ bookshelves. I certainly hope they won’t feel guilty about reading it for pleasure.
Thanks, Maya Rodale, for this enlightening study. Your books are now going up on my TBR pile.