Friday, June 29, 2012

Seriously Serious Readers

As evident in my last whiny rambling post, my brain is a bit scattered at the moment.  So while I've never admitted to being the brightest crayon in the box, I'm a little slower on the uptake than usual these days.  But no matter how I read it, this post over at All About Romance today is so full of wrong that it boggles my mind.  Let's begin by addressing the sentence that set Wendy off.
"I have moved past the Harlequin love and I am mystified by serious readers who haven’t."
What follows is some back-pedaling, but at that point I was so annoyed we had reached the point of no return.  Now if you're a "serious reader" of this blog, you'll probably think it was the category romance slam that pissed me off.  Which, it did.  But what really got my goat was the "serious reader" jab.

Here's my problem with a phrase like that one - it has no meaning.  It's nonsense.  What the feck is a "serious reader" anyway?  Is it a person who reads 100 books a year?  Is it the person who only reads science fiction because we all know that's the "smart genre?"  Is it a person who only reads 3 books a year but they're all Super Serious Literary Tomes That Clock In At 800 Pages?  Is it the person who reads a book with an eye towards dissection and analysis?  Is it the person who only reads books that get glowing reviews in the New York Times Book Review?  Is it the person who only reads non-fiction?

The answer?

THERE IS NO ANSWER!  (And if there were an answer I'm pretty sure my library science professors would have crammed it down my throat ad nauseam).

Look, I get that not everyone is going to love everything.  Truly.  But the gist of this blog post seems to be Stop Bashing The Trilogy That Shall Not Be Named But If It's A Small Town Romance Or Category Romance It's OK To Say It Sucks Eggs.  Um, yeah.  No.  That doesn't really work for me.  It would be like me saying that all of you who like paranormal romances aren't "serious readers."  Which leads me to a phrase I use a lot, especially with librarians: 

Just Because You Don't Like It Doesn't Mean It's Automatically Wrong.

Shocking, I know.

Granted, I'm willing to concede that my love of the category format has made me more than a wee bit defensive over the years.  I've largely gotten to the point where most of the time it rolls off my back.  But this blog post commits the one cardinal sin that I'm unlikely ever to "get over."  That practice by some romance readers, people who claim to love the genre, slamming the format.  Seriously, don't we get enough of that bullshit (yeah, I just said that) from people who don't read the genre?  Do we really have to keep going there?

Here's the thing, category romance isn't going to be for everybody.  There's never one thing that's for everybody.  It goes against everything we know about human nature.  However that doesn't mean anyone should be completely incapable of understanding the appeal of the format.

I read romance because I'm a Character Ho.  Actually I read period because I'm a Character Ho.  What category romance gives me, as a reader, is a very intense focus on the romance and the characters.  When it's done right, it's magic.  It's also not one size fits all.  I've read category romances that are light, fluffy, cotton-candy confections.  The kind of books that entertain you while you're reading them, but an hour later you can barely recall what you read.  I've read category romances that are so angst-ridden and emotional that I'm exhausted by the end.  I've read category romances so awful that they have questioned my faith in humanity.  I've read category romances so good that they literally haunt me for days.

And you know what?  You can say things like that about all books.  Not just romance and not just category romance.

I love category romances and think everybody else should love them too.  Realistically though, I know that's just not possible.  But I do expect readers in the community to respect each others choices.  I haven't read That Trilogy That Shall Not Be Named, and it's very likely I never will.  But you don't see me going around telling people online (or people who ask about the books at work) that they're obviously not "serious readers" because they liked them.  So please for the love of all that is holy don't make statements like this one:
What gives anyone the right to judge a reader for a book she likes?  I am sick of the vicious remarks I’ve read on Twitter, but the casual swipes are also getting to me. 
and then turn around and write this:
I have moved past the Harlequin love and I am mystified by serious readers who haven’t.  
It just makes you look stupid.

72 comments:

Kati said...

Oh sister, preach! I followed the tweets today, and was really interested by Sandy's take. Now listen, I in no way, shape or form consider myself a serious anything, except football fan.

My creedo regarding romance is and ALWAYS WILL BE:

"Thou shallt not yuck someone else's yum."

Heck, I'm not a fan of westerns, although I know you and Kristie love them. Doesn't mean they're inherently bad. It means they are not to my taste. Nor are multiple partner books where the heroes are brothers. Nor books where fisting occurs. But hell, if you love them, more freaking power to you!

Why do we have to denigrate what someone else loves? Why do we have to label it "serious" as opposed to what? Frivolous?

Makes me bonkers. Seriously bonkers.

Moriah Jovan said...

I have my reasons for not wanting to have anything to do with The Trilogy That Shall Not Be Named and it has nothing to do with the writing and everything to do with the provenance.

Otherwise, that whole post was mind-bogglingly hypocritical.

vacuousminx said...

This post popped into my feed reader just as I was finishing up one for my VM blog, so I was able to link to it. As I said there, no one can HULKSMASH like a librarian. You go, girl. We are right there with you.

And Kati, I am totally stealing "Thou shalt not yuck someone else's yum." With attribution, of course.

Lynne Connolly said...

No, I thought. I'll be polite and reasonable, I thought. So here comes Wendy, and sheesh, girl, yes.
Mind you, if she'd said that she was tired of the Harlequin romance, that would be her perogative.
I used to be a serious reader, but I'm all better now.

Jody W. said...

I am a serious reader. You can tell because I'm not smiling right now.

Jennifer McAndrews said...

"That practice by some romance readers, people who claim to love the genre, slamming the format. Seriously, don't we get enough of that bullshit (yeah, I just said that) from people who don't read the genre? Do we really have to keep going there?"

::Standing on my chair, applauding::

Lori said...

"Thou shalt not yuck someone else's yum."

Oh, Kati. This, yes. And spot on as always, Wendy.

Jazz Let said...

Thank you Wendy, makes me mad when 'literary' writers do it to genre, especially when they're damn well writing genre but not admiting it; it's just sickening when genre people do it.

Kel said...

Pfft.

I am what I consider a serious reader. I read a lot. I read lots of genres. I think and talk about books, about characters, about plot and world-building. I like my plots thick and slightly intimidating...

and I read Romance novels. Sometimes they're excellent. Sometimes they aren't. That can be said about any genre.

And for the "moved on to other genres" crowd - I moved to romance because it was the genre to really take people seriously. No other genre focuses so much and so consistently on how people are and interact and effect the world around them and each other.

A Library Girl said...

That's my own problem with The Trilogy, too. I have no problems with the contents of the book or with the people who read and enjoy it (that'd be awkward, since that group includes my own mother). I'm just very much not a fan of The Trilogy's beginnings and all attempts to hide those beginnings or make them seem like no big deal.

Amazing how the bullet on how Harlequin is not for "serious readers" came right after the "don't bash those readers" bullet. Ugh.

MaryK said...

A serious reader is someone who loves to read. And, yo, love is blind. It doesn't know a HQN from Shakespeare.

Anonymous said...

I am reading this blog with one eye on the thermometer, which is about to explode a la a Merrie Melodies cartoon, so maybe I missed something, but I wonder is the Trilogy that Shall Not... by our pal George, or is it a 50ish trilogy, or...aw, who cares?

Anyone who reads a book at all is a serious reader. Some serious readers apparently graduate to being humorless, judgmental, disapproving readers, too. Bully for them. You are not more virtuous than me because you have reread dear Jane Austen for the fortieth time and I have just read a brand new little book from some obscure Brit about an extremely domineering European/CEO/rich guy who is humbled by love.

So there.

Love,

Lily

Jackie Barbosa said...

"Thou shalt not yuck someone else's yum" is a pretty good motto as it applies to broad categories, but it actually doesn't apply to contrasting The Trilogy to an entire subgenre of books like category or small-town contemporaries. Sorry, it's just not analogous.

What I mean is this--if we are never allowed to say "yuck" about any particular book (or series of books) because someone else likes it, how are we to get or give honest opinions about any book ever? Now, I know that's not what you meant when you made that statement; the problem isn't panning an individual book, but panning entire sub-genres, which is what Sandy did. But she also, at the same time, basically said, "Anyone who doesn't like That Book and says so is bashing the tastes of anyone who did like it." And that is just SERIOUSLY a WTF statement. NO ONE is permitted to say they disliked a book that other people liked? What's the point of reviewing any book ever?

There are lots of subgenres of romance that don't trip my trigger. My apathy toward them is not remotely an indictment of their quality or of readers who do like them. There are also books in subgenres I *do* like that I found did not work for me. They were not, in my opinion, good books. Arguably, That Book falls in this category. I have read enough of Master of the Universe, its progenitor, to be reasonably sure it does not meet my personaly definition of a "good book." That is not the same as bashing people who did find it good. Moreover, if people can't tell the difference between my bafflement that a book I find substandard is as wildly popular as it is and some kind of indictment of their taste or character...well, that's kind of *their* problem, in my opinion.

P.S. I liked THE DA VINCI CODE. It was not the best book I ever read, but I did enjoy it. Lots of people say it's horribly written and a bad book that should never have become as popular as it did. This does not hurt my feelings. Why, then, does my opinion about That Book hurt the feelings of those who enjoyed it? Does it minimize their enjoyment? I really don't get it.

Wendy said...

Kati: And you love Sharon & Tom Curtis and I find their Old Skool style overwrought. We all have preferences, likes and dislikes - let's just leave it at that.

VacuousMinx: This librarian is hanging on by a thread at the moment, hence the HULKSMASH! lol

Lynne: I feel sorta "bad" since I probably should have left a comment over there - but I couldn't without rambling on for several paragraphs. Hence, blog post. With linkage.

Jody: True story, was flying back from RWA with a friend and I was reading a not-so-enjoyable Blaze. Her comment: "What are you reading? You do not look happy." LOL

Jennifer, Lori & Jazz Let: Seriously, drives me bonkers.

MaryK: You know, that's a good definition. I'm going to use it!

Wendy said...

That's been one of my bugaboos with the trilogy too. I just....have this block with fanfic. I get that some people find it enjoyable, but I can't seem to make my brain "go there."

My other thing is I have issues with how BDSM can be portrayed in fiction. Chalk it up to having been burned one too many times by authors who thought BDSM gave their heroes a free pass to be a total Neanderthal jerkwads. I'm SUPER selective now.

Wendy said...

Kel: That, that, that! That's what I love about romance. To a certain extent you can say all fiction addresses universal themes of human emotion(s) - but no other genre does it so blatantly as romance. It's the key to the genre and why so many of us love it.

Wendy said...

Sorry Lily! I've taken to referring to Fifty Shades as "The Trilogy That Shall Not Be Named" - because of the saturation level. Plus I also have to hear about it at work. A lot. It's not a slam on the books - it's just how I refer to any book that gets SO much attention. The Da Vinci Code was The Book That Shall Not Be Named for a while :)

Wendy said...

Jackie: I think it comes down to civil debate - which is sadly a dying (or already dead?) art form. I disagree with people about books - a lot. I disagree with some of my BFF book buds - a lot. I love KristieJ like awesome-sauce, but we've disagreed on a lot of books. The important thing is that I think we each "understand" where the other is coming from. I "get" why she loved some book, but it wasn't for me - and vice versa.

More than anything it was the addition of the "serious reader" label that really crisped my crackers. Fine, you don't care for category? That's your prerogative. But don't dismiss my love of them by saying I'm not a "serious reader." Whatever the heck that is.

Rose said...

Wendy, that was fantastic. I don't read too many categories, but I've certainly read some good ones. And it makes a lot more sense to me to say "I'd rather not read The Trilogy" than it is to dismiss hundreds if not thousands of books - especially considering the differences between some of the lines are far greater than the commonalities.

As someone whose introduction to the romance community came via AAR, it's just sad for me to see what's been happening there lately.

Moriah Jovan said...

I will sit with you on THE DA VINCI CODE bench.

Also. I liked TWILIGHT. It was crackalicious. But I didn't like it enough to read the rest of the series.

Las said...

That's exactly what's so ridiculous about that blog post--the implication that saying anything critical about a popular book is wrong. And coming from AAR--aren't they always going on about how much flack they used to get for being critical?--of all places makes it especially egregious.

Julia Broadbooks said...

I have reread Jane Austen at least 40 times and have in my TBR pile several domineering European/CEO/rich guys. And a couple of vampires and a couple of small town books. And the latest from a Pulitzer winner and a Faulkner award winners newest.

And I am going to love reading them all. I don't want to have to choose, and I'm sure not going to apologize for my choices.

Phyl said...

Wow, today was a good day to be absent from the interwebs. I think I'll go back to the hole I just crawled out of. And I'll take a Harlequin with me.

Kati said...

Jackie - That's not what I mean by "Thou Shalt Not Yuck Someone Else's Yum" at all. Believe me, I write my share of D & F reviews. What I mean is, if you were to say to me, "I love books with brothers who have sex at the same time with the same woman", I would say, "OK. Books like that are not to my taste, here's why..." But I wouldn't say to you, "I can't believe you like those books. Clearly you have terrible taste" or in this case, "Clearly you're not a "serious" reader."

Wendy said...

Rose: The kicker for me is that they have a couple of reviewers on staff who really like and support category. So the way that post was worded was just....not good.

Phyl: Only if you share your Harlequins :)

Wendy said...

I liked the way The Da Vinci Code ended (the unmasking of the villain etc.). It was my bad to read it well after all the hype. I didn't hate the writing so much as I thought the book was "too talky." Frankly the sort of book that makes a horrible movie - but they did it anyway :)

There's a big difference in my mind between "slamming" a book and being "critical" of it. It's all about making a reasoned argument. Re: What Kati said.

Jackie Barbosa said...

Kati, I knew what you meant, believe me, and I agree with you.

My point, really, was that the logical fallacy of Sandy's argument was to say "Some of you think 50 Shades of Grey is crap. Well, *I* think category romances are crap and small-town settings are saccharine and stupid." But 50 Shades of Grey isn't an entire subgenre of romance; it's a single book (well, set of books) that's currently the most widely read example of its subgenre. It was an apples to oranges comparison, independent of question about "serious readers."

Logical fallacies irritate me. This one particularly irritated me :). You can call me pedantic. I'm okay with that.

vacuousminx said...

The other kicker: insulting the publishers who give you the free books that enable your reviewers to write the reviews that drive the traffic that lets you buy ads.

The mind, it boggles.

A Library Girl said...

Oh, I read fanfic like crazy, both openly condoned stuff (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) and not (Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic downloaded from Archive of Our Own). But I read it with the understanding that it is fanfic, and that it is intended for fans who need something more after they are done with the original work. I want to know when what I'm reading is fanfic, and I want the author of the fanfic to acknowledge that they owe the existence of their work (and, in this case, at least part of the popularity of their work) to the original work.

Isobel Carr said...

Laughably not even apples and oranges. It was some people don't like red delicious apples and I'm here to say that I think all berries and melons are crap.

nath said...

Very good post, Wendy :) I do wonder though if she realized what she wrote...

vacuousminx said...

Ack, I meant SELL ads. Sorry! And you even have a preview button ...

Kaye said...

To be a "cranky pants" is one thing, but to insult readers is quite another. A very disturbing post from an established romance review site - I'm surprised it made it through any editing that is going on over there.

Laura Vivanco said...

"I have moved past the Harlequin love and I am mystified by serious readers who haven’t."

I read that this morning and I thought about contributing to the thread at AAR. Then I realised it would be so much better if I just treated that sentence like a message from a fortune cookie, telling me that my next academic study of romance novels needs to be focused on single-titles.

Laura Vivanco said...

Just to clarify, what I meant by "it would be so much better" is that I'd almost certainly have written something incoherent, unlike your post. Unfortunately, my comment here was still incoherent (though thankfully shorter than what I'd have written this morning if I hadn't managed to trick myself into looking on the bright side).

Sharon Tyler said...

Thank you Wendy. I love a wide range of books, I read and review everything from children's books to some crazy adult books that I do not feel comfortable reading with my kids in the room.

I love a good romance novel, particularly if my hero might be wearing kilts, as much as I love a silly picture book. Completely different genres, but both have thier value.

I hate when I get the look over the glasses and snide comments over some of my reading choices by readers and other librarians that seem to think if a book isn't a classic or somehow scholarly then I cannot possibly be a 'serious reader'.

Wendy said...

Library Girl: In other words, you want them to "own their past" so to speak - not sweep it under the rug like a dirty secret. Completely agree.

Wendy said...

Nath: Honestly I had to read the post a couple of times because I was like, "Did she just say what I think she said?"

Kaye: I think one should have the right to read and review whatever they choose. It's one of the perks of running your own site or blog. But dude, it'd be like me saying "I Hate Paranormals And Those Of You Who Like Them Aren't Serious Readers." Uh, no. Just, no. Paranormals aren't my preference (at the moment) - but that doesn't mean that makes me right and people who love them "wrong." It just means that paranormals aren't my bag.

Sharon: And I think it's possible to look at a book (or whole sub genre) and "get" why some readers love it - even if it isn't your thing. My example is J.R. Ward. Don't care for her books. Not my thing. But when I read the ones I read, I could totally see why they appealed to other readers.

Wendy said...

Laura: I was pretty much in the same boat. I didn't know how to leave a comment without just....going off on a rambling tangent. Sort of like a banshee woman with her hair on fire :) Probably a good thing I have a blog so I can ramble on over here.....

Hilcia said...

Interesting, Wendy. I often find(read) contradicting statements around the web about reading and even censorship. It seems "serious" reading often only applies to the "genre" or "sub-genre" the individual who is writing the post chooses to read. However, most often that judgmental attitude is reserved for "ROMANCE" readers in general. You know that I review sci-fi, straight fantasy literary fiction, and poetry, in addition to romance (category romances included) and yes... I see a lot of that. So it always, always amazes me when romance readers judge fellow romance readers preferences and reading habits.

It is true that you can give the same book to ten different people, and get ten different opinions. That is a wonderful thing from where I'm sitting because we are all unique. However, what exactly is a 'serious' reader? What makes the reader of one genre or sub-genre more "serious" than another?

Jill Sorenson said...

I grew up reading category romance and still find gems there, but I'm okay with someone calling it formulaic or unappealing. The "wank" comment was a dig at academic discussions, I think, and unnecessary. I don't see anyone claiming category romance is great literature.

I'm okay with contradictory blog posts (we all contradict ourselves more frequently than we realize, I think) and I've defended AAR at a number of places. I actually went there to stand up for 50 readers because I *have* seen some negative attitudes, as if they're bringing romance down or unable to recognize good writing.

Unfortunately, it seems as if any criticism of The Book is viewed as bashing, and any disagreement is viewed as an attack. This kind of response feeds the drama.

I also don't know why anyone posts opinion pieces with the expectation of only "ditto" and "yay!" responses.

liztalley said...

I'm not surprised that reviewers or readers speak from both sides on their mouth on this issue. I, at one time, felt the same way, and I'm pretty certain it came from a society that still sees category romances as books for the un-educated.

I came to my love of romance through a paper bag of category romance books ciculated around my family by all the aunts and grandmothers. My great grandmother and her two daughters were products of the Depression and the only school they graduated from was the school of hard knocks. I snuck these books, entering a wonderful world of nurses sharing flats and climbing into doctor's cars with names I'd never heard of. Love blossomed...and not between the nurse and doctor...but between me and those slender books. Years later as a college graduate with my summa in English and History, I emerged oh-so intelligent and far above all that "trash." Even when I started writing and mentors suggested I submit to category lines, I scoffed. I may be writing romance, but surely my work was better than that.

Deal was, I HADN'T read a category romance in almost twenty years. So after meeting a senior editor and seeing her interest in my story, I read some. Imagine my surprise to find them rich and complex. To find that they were good. Sure, some didn't float my boat, but others had me studying the characterization, the GMC, the sheer deliciousness of the structure. How had I been so judgmental and dismissed an entire genre because I had a frickin' degree...because I thought I was better than writing for Harlequin?

A story is a story, no matter what cover graces the book. No matter who the publisher. No matter what the method of delivery. A story is a story. You don't like the story? Fine. But don't bash an entire sub-genre of romance because of your prejudices against a book, or several books. And when you have a broad platform in which to judge an entire sub-genre and spread that belief, you should be doubly careful. Reviewers and librarians have influence, and if I were in those shoes, I'd be super careful how I responded to "Did you read 'the trilogy that shall not be named'?" Saying "I don't care for them, but my bff devoured them and cried because there were no more" is quite different than saying "You can't possibly be a serious reader if you read that crap."

You don't have to like my category books. That's your right. But to use the power you have as an "authority" to cast a shadow on the intelligence of people who like them is, well, pretty shitty.

Thanks for your support for ALL books, Wendy.

KB/KT Grant said...

I don't understand how by enjoying Harlequin books such as categories or what not, you can't be a serious reader? That makes no sense to me at all.

Category romance like Harlequin was one of the main reasons I started reading romance and I still will read them, although not as often. I have incredible respect for category authors who can write great stories in the allotted word count or page number they're given.

So, if I still read Loveswept books, which are very much like Harlequin categories, does that make a silly reader?

Laura Vivanco said...

"the "wank" comment was a dig at academic discussions, I think, and unnecessary. I don't see anyone claiming category romance is great literature."

Well, in the introduction to my academic study of "The Literary Art of the Harlequin Mills & Boon Romance" I stated that,

"Having spent a great deal of time reading HM&B romances, I would argue that many are well-written, skilfully crafted works which can and do engage the minds as well as the emotions of their readers, and a few are small masterpieces."

Not so long ago I wrote to AAR to ask them if they'd be interested in reviewing it. I don't want to sound conceited and/or hyper-sensitive, but I can't help wondering if that's part of the context in which Sandy was writing her post.

salvador said...

I read this post at the AAR blog and I too was offended in being categorized as not a "serious reader" for liking category romance books. I actually started reading only single titles and looked down on category romance for a number of years until I stumbled on a few good ones and now I find myself hooked on them. I understand that reviewers have their book preference and I have always supported AAR but I am disappointed at what Sandy at AAR wrote. But like some of you I decided not to comment at AAR and instead come here where I felt more welcomed.

Holly said...

Oh Wendy, will you marry me? Uh, after Kati has my babies, that is?

I've pretty much given up on AAR lately. I find myself pissy everytime I read a post ovet there.

As to the Trilogy That Shall Not Be Named, I have serious issues with the origins and the way the stalker behavior is addressed, but I can't be mad that the series is getting people reading.

Anonymous said...

Howdy, I have given up on AAR, they are too grumpy and pick fights about silly things way too much..as a fellow romance loving librarian-what the heck is a serious reader-everyone who picks up a book is a serious reader!! and for the record, I love the heat, the hotter the better!!! everyone have a happy 4th!

Jill Sorenson said...

Not at all, Laura. I think that comment was directed at you.

I like your quote. I might have read that before at TMT.

LoriK said...

I gave up reading regularly at AAR a while ago, but every now and then I wander back over to see what's new. When I saw that post I was reminded why I stopped reading there.

What a hypocritical load of bull that was and the comments just made it worse. It totally chapped my hide that both AAR Sandy and her supporters were acting as if everyone displeased with her post was just a bitter category fan who had made nasty comments about The Book and who could dish it out but not take.

I read some category books, but they're not my primary interest. I read the first few chapters of The Book and then DNFed it. (I have no objection to the kink per se, but I didn't like the writing. Like some earlier commenters I'm also bothered by the attempts to hide the books' origins as fanfic.) That means I have no dog in a category vs The Book brawl. I do have a dog in the "serious reader" fight though and IMO AAR Sandy is dead wrong on that topic. One of her fans said that if people don't like what she wrote they just shouldn't read her posts, to which I say, "That's the plan."

Wendy said...

Hils: And that's the rub for me. I'm not saying we all have to be happy, sunshine, rainbows all the time. I'm also not saying we all have to LOVE the same books. But these subtle digs within the genre? Dude, don't we get enough of that BS from people who don't read romance?

Jill & Laura: I've never been active in their community, but I've always respected AAR. Truly. They were extremely ground-breaking (the whole "at the back fence" style before there was social media) and I've always supported them because of that. But dude. This just....pales. Fine, you don't like category. Fine, you don't like small town romances. But to make that dig about those of us who do like them not being "serious readers?" I'm out.

KB/KT: It's easy to just dump everything under the Harlequin umbrella these days - but yes, category is a format that does exist outside their walls. Especially now that Loveswept has been revived. So the answer is yes. Yes you are a silly reader :)

Wendy said...

Liz: Your path to category is so similar to mine in a lot of ways. When I started reading romance (after escaping college), I justified it to myself by saying, "Yes, I read romance - but it's not like I'm reading Harlequins!" Oh Wendy. Poor, poor deluded Wendy.

Also, ditto everything you said in your last paragraph. To a T. Sums up my entire blog post quite nicely :)

Wendy said...

Salvador: Me too! I was the same way. I got over my romance snobbery through single titles - but I clung to that category disdain until I started reviewing over at The Romance Reader. Did I read some bad ones? Oh Lord, yes! I've read some category romances that I still have scars from. But I've also read some amazing ones. Just truly, amazing. Gems. And I do understand the format is not for everybody. I really do. More than anything it was that "serious reader" dig. I take enough crap from "outside" the genre community that I really don't need anyone inside of it questioning my "seriousness."

Wendy said...

Hols: I've stayed away from a lot of the 50 Shades hub-bub online because I have to deal with it SO much at work. I've had to defend it (yep, no lie). I've had to talk to colleagues about it. I've had to buy a gazillion copies of it. I've had to explain it (delicately I might add) to curious patrons who have only heard the title but have NO CLUE what the story is about.

Seriously, I hate that book (not really, but I am SO SICK of talking about it all the time at my job!)

What I don't hate are the readers who have enjoyed it. Bully for them I say. There's a book for every reader and if 50 Shades is it for you? More power to ya. So while I do agree with Sandy that yes, the disdain is getting annoying - I don't think the answer is to then throw that disdain back at entirely different sub genres. Especially within a genre that you run a frickin' site devoted to.

It'd be like me saying that anybody who loves JR Ward or Thea Harrison is a stupid doody head - just because I'm not wild about paranormal romances.

Wendy said...

Anon: LOL! Your heat comment probably got you some evil eyes ;) It's hot where I am - but I swear it can't be nearly as horrible as Texas and what's going on back east right now.

And here at the Bat Cave we LOVE romance reading librarians! Wave your freak flag high!

Wendy said...

LoriK: The ship sailed for me commenting for myself over there - mostly because Ridley said EVERYTHING that I would have (and frankly, probably WAY better) and you see how well that went over.

At the end of the day, it's that "serious reader" dig that really bothers me. Yes, the category romance thing does annoy, but that's because I think everybody should love them. But I know, not everybody does or will and hey - that's totally cool. It's not totally cool to imply that just because you think it's crap that readers who don't think it's crap are somehow inferior, stupid, not serious, whatever.

I get my intelligence questioned a lot because of my romance reading. Sometimes from people I know. Sometimes from people I don't know. Sometimes from colleagues (other librarians) who really should know better (my tongue, it is very bloody). I don't want to hear it from within the community.

Nikki said...

There must be others who read the trilogy that shall not be named AND read Harlequins. I mean, besides me and a handful of others. That said, I felt Sandy stepped over the line, and then refused to admit to the contradiction. Poorly done, Sandy, poorly done.

Las said...

I just realized what's really been bugging me about the whole AAR/harlequin thing--it's Sandy's pride in pissing off Harlequin fans and therefore proving some kind of point. Forget that the actual point doesn't make much sense as written--if I squint I can see where she's coming from. My issue is that Sandy was being deliberately provocative with that post, and then acted like she did something so clever. Newsflash: saying certain things and then getting a predictable reaction out of people is something most humans figure out how to do by age 3. Wow, she insulted Harlequin fans by saying they're not "serious" readers, and Harlequin fans were offended. Congratulations to her on finally reaching that milestone.

If that's her opinion, and if it makes people angry, cool, she should stand by that opinion. But to act like making people angry was the whole point of that post, because it somehow proves something? That makes her nothing more than a troll.

Rose said...

Sandy has now written in the comments that her post was meant as something of a tongue in cheek counterpoint to DA and others. She also had some interesting things to say about DA, its writers and its readerships. So obviously the best way to deal with DA is to insult category readers and authors and complain about anyone who disagrees with you. Huh?

I don't recall AAR being like this in the past; they used to publish new, fresh content, not focus on writing insulting reaction posts. And that's really unfortunate - when you browse there you can see all the great stuff they used to do, and how little they have to offer these days in comparison.

KB/KT Grant said...

I love being a silly reader! :)

Wendy said...

Nikki: Then she tried to back-pedal by saying "See how it feels category romance fans when someone slams what you read?" Uh, like we didn't already know how that felt?!?!?! I've been reading romance for a scant 13 years and by far and away the most crap I take because of it is over my love of category romance. Why? Because we hear it from both sides - Non-Romance Fans and Romance Fans. If 50 fans are getting their feelings hurt I say stand in line cupcake. Stand. In. Line. Harlequin has been around since 1949. You've got another 63 years of this nonsense to look forward to.

Wendy said...

Las: I just don't get it. Period. I really don't. I've seen a lot of nonsense in my time in the online romance community - but this one takes the cake for me. It's essentially biting the hand that feeds you - and I'm not talking from the publisher/ARC end of things. Over the years, category readers have provided A LOT of content for that site. A LOT. They've had some great category reviewers over the years too. And now someone who is in charge of the site says something like that, and hides behind the provocative, see how it feels? explanation.

If I reviewed category romances for them I would....not be thrilled.

Wendy said...

Rose: And why exactly does DA need to be "dealt with," would be my response. Look, AAR isn't for everybody. Neither is DA, Smart Bitches, my blog - hell, any blog or web site in existence. I don't think anyone has come out and actually admitted it - but there are times when it feels like there's a definite Us vs. Them mentality within the community, which I just find sad. If you don't like something, fine. If you do like it, fine. But the circling of the wagons? For what exactly? Poking people with a stick until you get a reaction? Get a hobby.

Moriah Jovan said...

The latest charge is that those other than AAR fans are attempting to control the internet. To this I say: Look in the mirror.

It seems to me Sandy wants to say things, but also control where, when, and how it gets disseminated to the rest of the internet. With blogs who don't acknowledge AAR's existence, she doesn't have to worry about it (other than the fact that, you know, they don't acknowledge AAR's existence). But she can't do that with Twitter and Facebook. Thus, she stalks Twitter feeds and FB postings, then goes back on her blog to complain about the haterz and gossipers and Mean Girls.

NEWSFLASH: You can't control what people say on the internet. AAR is not a closed loop at the moment, although it certainly could become one if the opinions shared elsewhere become painful enough.

The fact is, she has a beef with DA. I haven't been around romancelandia enough to have any first-hand knowledge of it or investment in it. But the only real reason I know about this at all is from...AAR. Because they're still carrying a grudge and everyone else has moved on.

That said, I did hit AAR first when I first came to romancelandia--and promptly abandoned it. Because I didn't like what was said? No. Because the site is atrocious and painfully un-navigable.

AAR's site has the most ancient and inefficient navigation ever. It's not mobile ready. They don't put covers with their reviews. Their blog has no feed unless you plug it into your reader manually. Their reviews have no feed, period.

Sandy would be better served to spend her time and energy on updating the site to make it relevant to how users actually use the internet instead of being static and seeming to say, "It's been fine for the last 12 years. Why change what works?" Except...it doesn't and I will bet money they have the shrinking stats to prove it.

There are a lot of things AAR could do to become relevant again instead of trying to control what people say about it in public venues (i.e., NOT gossip), griping about what people say about it in public venues, being pissy about an unexpected reaction to an asinine post, and backpedaling when caught out in a poorly worded (or not--you decide) 6-year-old grudge-packed screeds against one or two blogs of Mean Girls. Furthermore, her definition of "being attacked" leaves much to be desired.

Nobody cares who hates who, and certainly nobody who came to romancelandia long after whatever high school BS war happened.

In short, grown women shouldn't be trying to stir up high school shit because somebody dunnem sum wrong way back in the day. If they want to compete, to be relevant, they need to put their energies toward making the site user-friendly, easily navigable, and worthy of ad rates that the more trafficked blogs get.

And yes, I am well aware that for this comment, I will be ridiculed as a hypocrite and a Mean Girl, betrayer of all things True Romance and will put me on exactly 6 people's auto-not-buy list and you know what? I don't care about that, either.

Kelly in Hockeytown said...

All I can say is that 100 years ago (ok, not really) when I belonged to an online forum (that no longer exists) that was strictly dedicated to romantic fiction, I was implicitly warned NOT to go to the bad place. FYI, the bad place was AAR. Guess I was warned for a good reason.

Wendy said...

Moriah: I can't....think of anything else to add here. Just, yes. That's the beauty of the Interwebs. You can do your own thing. You can take a look around, find the bits you like, avoid the bits you don't like. There's really no need for these little flare-ups. It's just....a waste of time.

A waste of time I waded into. Oh Wendy, will you never learn?

Wendy said...

Kelly: LOL! I've never thought AAR was a "bad place." It fostered a community of readers, it did that "at the back fence" thing before anybody knew what social media was. I respect the site and the hard work that goes into running it. But ugh - this? Yeah, let's insult romance readers and then back pedal on it by saying you were trying to make a point. Badly, I might add.

MaryK said...

I used to visit AAR all the time. I gradually switched over to DA as my regular place because it's a better fit for me. During my last few visits to the AAR message boards, there were several smackdowns of commenters by moderators/reviewers. Once because a newcomer disagreed with a regular, and once over criticism of an author.

I think it's now a place for regulars who aren't very active on the internet. It's a sad, slow death, IMO.

Liz Mc2 said...

I was disappointed that the point seemed in the end to be NOT "don't bash readers" (right on!) or even "see how it feels to be bashed in your turn?" (uh, I guess, but not deftly handled and category readers know how it feels) but "see how there is a romance 'mainstream' I differ from, and how nasty they get when I do?" I just don't buy that. Romanceland is a big place with a wide diversity of views. That's clear from comment threads at any site including AAR. There's no lockstep orthodoxy I can see, nor is it any one site against the world. The view of some commenters in the thread that it is--and the nasty responses to polite disagreement/debate--has made me feel increasingly uncomfortable visiting AAR, which is too bad, because it has a lot to offer.

willaful said...

Lynne, I so want "I used to be a serious reader, but I'm all better now" on a t-shirt...

Wendy said...

In case not everybody has seen it - there's a counterpoint over at AAR now.

http://www.likesbooks.com/blog/?p=8469

Kristie (J) said...

I am so seriously behind on my blog hopping - blame it on greed and serious amounts of overtime, but I consider myself a "serious reader" and I think there are some wonderful Harlequins out there - wonderful ones!

Wendy said...

Kristie: See all the fun you miss when you're "off-line?" Ha!