09 February 2009

Back to the Romance Genre

Every 2-3 months at work we complete a genre study as part of our readers' advisory training. At staff meeting we review the characteristics, trends, subgenres, and appeal factors of science fiction or westerns or fantasy and then we're required to read and review a couple of books from the genre we're studying. Right now we're in the middle of a romance genre study. I read Outlander for my first romance, because it's well-regarded within the genre, and it was a good read, although LONG and very steamy and containing one scene in which the hero beats his wife when she disobeys him and even though I know that as the reader I'm supposed to feel okay about that because the setting is the Highlands in the 18th century and the hero was raised being beaten by his father, I'm actually a very 21st century reader and I'm not okay with the protagonists of my books being beaten by their lovers. Ever.

Anyway, yesterday I went looking for a second romance to read. A prolific romance writer had been recommended to me, so I turned to my good friend Novelist (check to see if your library has access to it, because it's a looooovely reading recommendation database and if you live in Utah, your library absolutely does have access) and discovered that my author of choice had written a romance about a shy librarian finding love. Well who doesn't want to read about that? While I was at it, I decided to see if there were other romances featuring librarians and yes, yes, there are. I took home two of the many librarian romance options.

There are a number of portrayals of librarians in the popular media that I can get behind--Katherine Hepburn in Desk Set, that guy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the husband from The Time Traveler's Wife (and have you seen that he's being portrayed by Eric Bana in the movie? woo hoo!)--and many quite unfortunate portrayals--George's wife in It's a Wonderful Life, that librarian in that one Star Wars movie, Noah Wyle in The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (I get where they were going with that one, but . . . ).

My two romances are completely unacceptable in their portrayals of librarians. They were clearly written by people who have never met or loved librarians. And after reading the first chapter of one book, I realized that no librarian could ever fall for the hero. Librarians are very discerning. It's clear that I'm going to have to start writing romances and appropriately represent my people.

In the meantime, I do need to find another romance to read. Any suggestions?


Kirsten said...

I find that Georgette Heyer's novels are fairly true to the historical time period in which they are set, and I find that I have learned quite a bit about the British aristocracy from reading her novels. What a convoluted system, all those earls, dukes, baronets, lords, and what not, who needs it? Plus, you are sure not to run into any thing more amorous than a chaste kiss between the hero and heroine at the end of the book.

For anybody who has not seen Katherine Hepburn in Desk Set, I would HIGHLY recommend that you rent and watch. I saw it a couple of years ago at the Library of Congress and it has certainly be placed on my list of favorite movies, and I can tell you that I am very discerning on what movie makes it onto my list.

And MBC, I would read any book you wrote, even if it wasn't one that included the proper portrayal of a highly discerning, extremely intelligent, and thoroughly sexy librarian.

Amy said...

I second Georgette Heyer. Best romances ever. No steam. Much better than Diana Gabaldon.

I just heard a radio bit on "A Prairie Home Companion" a few weeks ago on a librarian finding love with one of her patrons.

MBC said...

You are both so wise, but, sadly, I think I've already read all the Georgette Heyer romances.

Amy--Would that have been Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian?

Lady Susan said...

I am among kindred spirits here as I too adore Georgette Heyer romances and PHC. (MBC--Heyer books are always good for a re-read)

I was upset that the two books you checked out were unacceptable. There is nothing better than a librarian romance, and I was looking forward to a recommendation. :(

All the good romances I can think of at the moment, I am pretty sure you have already read. However, if you find something interesting, please let us know!

Anonymous said...

I don't think you mean the librarian in the star wars movie? what are you talkin' 'bout.


MBC said...

I do mean the librarian in Star Wars. She's in one of the ones produced in the last 10 years and someone asks her about the location of a planet on her little 3-D atlas thing and she can't find it and tells the person asking that if it's not on the map, it doesn't exist.

Breanne said...

I like Outlander, but that whole beating thing was totally bugging me, too. I appreciated that she later on... asserts the fact that he will never do that again. It sort of mended some wounds for me.

E said...

I second the Prairie Home Companion suggestion (even though it's not a book). In the one I heard, this dashing actor dude wanted her to run away with him or something but that would mean having to close the library and her assistant dude (who was secretly in love with her) would not fill in for her, so she had to stay and keep the library afloat. What troopers those librarians are!

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