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THOUGHTS ON MEN READING ROMANCE

19 March 2010 15 Comments

With regard to men reading the Romance genre, let me share this: Among other things, my husband holds a double Ph.D. in political science and economics, speaks five languages, is a member of the (exceedingly boring to me) International Heraldry Society (he can interpret most any coat of arms at a glance), daily scans several international newspapers (in their language) and I consider him to be one of the most intelligent men I have ever met. The first time I went to his house he invited me to pick something off his (vast and varied) library shelf to read while he responded to a few phone calls. Hmmm. Seems I was on the wrong set of shelves or something because much to my horror (call me intimidated) there was nothing there in English! I looked around and finally spotted a single tome written in the only language I could understand.  The title? How to Understand the Japanese Mind. Darn, call me intimidated again.

My point? When we married and merged houses and books, I thought about keeping my romance novels in a box, but to heck with it, I thought, we were honest and open with one another, right? Well, suffice it to say, dear hubby reads every romance novel I bring home and agrees with me: this genre should be required reading for every male on the planet. He understands that it is our feeling nature that give us value and that we need to keep romance alive in our relationships. It is the “spark” that keeps a relationship from running cold. It is the “glue” that gives us strong bonds when the times are tough. But keeping romance alive requires work and attention to maintain it for the long haul. When someone comments to me that they admire the relationship my husband and I obviously enjoy together (14 years of it), I promptly lend the man in the relationship a book – and guess what? It ain’t How to Understand the Japanese Mind!

15 Comments »

  • Rick said:

    Well said Kathleen! When I was married I read the mystery romance novels my wife had just read. It created a bond between us, and I am not sure if it was the discussions as I was reading it, or the romance that the book entailed. Now that I think about it, both were the case. I remember driving and listening to mystery romance books on tape. It kept the drive simple and us engaged on the long journeys.

    Peace,

    Rick

  • kathleen (author) said:

    Great to have you leave a comment…I think men in particular are uneducated with regard to reading stories that create emotion (romance) other than fear based (thrillers) and don’t know how to cope with what is generated in them.

  • Shannon Robinson said:

    Hi Kathleen! Great post and love your website – absolutely beautiful.
    My hubby is not a reader – unless it’s Sports Illustrated. 🙂 I basically had to bribe him to read my first published short story and that was only 9K in wordlength! But he is a great communicator with me and will listen / discuss my feelings on the romance genre and relationships in general. It is wonderful to have a partner who will do that.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Shannon

  • Gail Zerrade said:

    What a beautiful website, Kathleen!

    There are so many ways one can support a writer.
    You’re very lucky to have a husband who understands what you do. My husband has never read a romance, or anything I’ve written. But when it comes to technology, he’s got my back. So I’m pretty lucky too. 🙂

  • Rebecca Lynn said:

    Excellent post, Kathleen. I really enjoyed the last line, in particular. 🙂

  • Anna Kathryn Lanier said:

    How lucky you are, Kathleen. My husband doesn’t read romance, not even mine. But we’ve been married 23 years, so I know what to expect from him….not a lot of romance, but a steady rock in the storm.

    I’ve read that 23% of romance readers are men, and of course, there are a handful of them who are writers. A past RWA president being one of them.

    But, it’s not just men who don’t understand the genre. It’s unfortunate that some women disregard it as ‘unworthy reading’ as well. None of them, male or female, really know what they are missing!

  • Susan Macatee said:

    Beautiful website, Kathleen!

    My husband’s a non-reader, like Shannon’s. He’s never read anything I’ve written, but brags about my books nonetheless.

    Although he’d never read a romance, because he doesn’t read period, he wouldn’t dare make fun of them.

  • kathleen (author) said:

    Anna Kathryn…married 23 years has its own brand of romance, I’d say…the steady rock in the storm. As I write this, I can see mine from here doing dishes (whomever cooks the other cleans) and I think that’s pretty sexy (nice bum)! lol. I hate doing dishes.

    Gail and Shannon, having a hubby there when you need him, someone who talks with you about what you do…love in action…to me that’s romantic.

    Thanks Rebecca Lynn for stopping by,glad you like it.

  • kathleen (author) said:

    Hi Susan,

    That’s cute. But he’s supportive of you and your work…super important.

  • Julie Shumway said:

    Great blog Kathleen. My hubby and I have been married for over 26 years. He has always been supportive of me as a writer. He has within the last year started to read romance novels. He loves them. Every couple of days he heads off to the library where they sell donated books for 33 cents. He comes home with 9 or 10 each trip. Our husbands sound similar. Mine does the dishes and the laundry.

  • kathleen (author) said:

    Hi Julie,

    Glad you stopped by. Great that your husband reads romance…donated books for 33 cents? My kind of library lol. We have our books lined up in a stack of unread, then they move over to a middle stack of “one of us has read” and from there to the end stack of “both have read, let’s share.” We have another 2 couples we share books with but the men don’t read the romance. One is wanting to stick his toe in, but we can all tell he’s wanting to be macho. He watches Hans now and how free and open Hans is about his reading material and we figure he is coming along nicely and will try one pretty soon. I have a Joanna Bourne picked out for him. lol

  • Jerrica Knight-Catania said:

    Kathleen,

    Let me say first how GORGEOUS your website is! Absolutely beautiful!

    I love your post! My hubby reads romance as well. He’s read everything I’ve ever written and when I hand him a Regency I love, he reads it. We really bond over paranormal YA romances, though. LOL! Twilight started a phase in our life that has lasted more than 2 years now. It’s great and definitely strengthens the already tight bond we have.

    Fantastic post!

  • Lydia Dare said:

    Kathleen –

    Wonderful post!

    What an amazing husband you have. I just noticed Jerrica posted her comment above mine, which is funny. When I was reading your post I was thinking of her husband since he is much the same as yours.

    I know a couple of guys who read romance, and it was because their wives read it first and they wanted to be supportive. One is a former actor, now partner in the firm I work at. I’m talking him into getting a picture of him reading my book for my website.

  • Bill Haggart said:

    Kathleen:

    You do have a beautiful sight…very evocative. ;-j

    As a male-type person trying to write romances [a challenge my wife gave me] I certainly have thought long and hard about men reading romances, and the general negative view many have about the genre. I can remember being in a used book store and buying two romances. The owner and I chatted about romances we enjoyed and then she asked where I read them. I said on the plane or traveling. [part of my job.] She immediately handed me a book cover to use so noone would see what I was reading. I’ve never used it, but I thought it was telling that her response was so quick.

    Men do read romances all the time, even if they don’t realize it. Read Louis L’Amour Westerns, or Clive Cussler adventures, John Koontz thrillers, or even Mike Hammer mysteries. They all have romances. They always include a fiesty, competent heroine and a man who, if not outright Alpha, is still trying to do ‘the right thing’ against great odds.

    I will agree that my notions of ‘romance’ and what I’d find in a romance novel did not match what I did find. That intrigued me no end. Still does.

    I think that one reason romances are denigrated is the same reason submariners I knew dumped on the Tom Clancy novel ‘Red October’. They felt they knew submarines and were quick to point out where he went wrong.

    The difference is that everyone has had a romance, many unsuccessfully. For example, I sat next to a Lawyer on a plane going to Nashville some time ago. She saw I had a romance open and asked distainfully if I hadn’t been able to find anything else to read. I got her talking about her opinions [She’d read the first pages of a romance years ago.] and very quickly it turned to her romantic experiences. [The things you learn on a plane…] Anyway, she felt romances were crap because they were unrealistic…they didn’t match her experiences. I have found that to be a theme in my experience…

    Some of it is presentation. One of the author members of Sacramento Valley Rose got a letter from a Biker who said he really enjoyed her novels, but only read the first one because it had a cartoon cover with a guy riding a Harley with a chick on the back…

    Anyway, I know plenty of guys who read romance, often for the same reason they read westerns or mysteries… The good guy gets the girl.

    Bill Haggart

  • kathleen (author) said:

    Hi Jerrica, Thanks for stopping by and whoo hoo, your hubby reads the romances!!! I got to thinking about what I wrote and how the couples I referred to have something missing in their relationship and wondered if the men would give in to their feelings (not emotions) and read romance with an open mind (and heart), would that change things for them? I have this gut feeling it would. Glad you like the website.

    Hi Lydia, I just left your blog http://www.ladyscribes.blogspot.com/(and left a comment)! You’d think we knew each other. Well, we do through via the internet now. Congratulations on your new release A Certain Wolfish Charm. Can’t wait to read it. You are one busy lady, so thanks for taking the time to stop by. Oh, come back next week. I have a huge surprise contest beginning on the 24th.

    Hi Bill, And thank YOU for stopping by…another man…and a writer of romance at that! There is a husband/wife team who writes romance and I love that they are out there working the genre together. Your succint comments were worth my blogging on the subject. Stop by again, and I would love to have you as a guest when you have finished the manuscript…before you have it published and then after!

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