It is Valentine’s Day in 4 days, and no doubt social institutions like schools and workplaces are prepping you up to find the love of your life. That’s all easily said and done to outgoing people and partygoers, who are probably taking this time to find their eleventh lover in some nightclub or having a romantic candlelit dinner with their future spouse. But alas, for introverts like us, perhaps the only romantic solace we can find is in our books, as we curl up on a particularly nice night on our armchairs at home. And of course, to experience sweet sweet love, we turn to romances.
Ask any self-respecting literature fan on the street and they will vehemently deny that any romance book falls on their top ten list of favourites. Romances are for bimbos, or middle-aged spinsters who are excellent career women but crave for intense passionate love. We read things that are intelligent, like Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, or John Dies At the End by Jason Pargin (under the pseudonym of David Wong). Books that just about make it to the bestseller list but are overshadowed by the “too commercial” offerings of Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey. And yet these books have to be modern and popular enough to be trendy reads for the intellectuals like them. Best if these books became hit movies (but not too hit like Twilight, so they attract just enough of the correct crowd). By the way, Jonathan Safran Foer did have a movie adaptation of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close which everyone says was great stuff, and John Dies At The End spawned a movie and a sequel.
Yes, the art of making a top ten list requires finesse and skill.
But everyone has a secret favourite romance, be it a romantic book or simply a romantic scene in a non-romantic book. It doesn’t need to be sexual (though I guess it can) in nature, but it is a scene that constantly invades the reader’s mind and sends waves of pleasant nostalgia through their system, causing them to blush and sigh and be grateful nobody has invented mind reading technology on a grand scale yet. Personally, my favourite romances come from Anne Tyler, who writes realistic slice-of-life books that are sorta like romances except these romances are portrayed very realistically, which may detract from the fairytale fantasy some people like (and I don’t mean just the ladies; we’re getting more and more gentlemen who love sweet saccharine romances too).
But for the ladies who love sizzling flings and completely impossible romantic escapades, I recommend novels published by Mills & Boon. They are definitely the sort of books you want to keep hidden in a secret compartment of your bookshelves, because they contain the 1970’s or 1980’s romance formula. Meet really rich man in exotic country, really rich man falls in love with woman, really rich man has some weird personality like Beast from Beauty & The Beast, woman is somehow intrigued, love happens, sex happens, happily ever after.
The website looks like a travel package where you can choose what kind of romantic adventure you want to embark on.
Even if we scowl and make faces at such silly foolish fantasies, people are still engulfing them, and we all know that the ones snapping up these volumes are not necessarily the uneducated dreamers. There is always someone in us who longs to fall into the trap of dangerous, dream-like love, the kind that we regret once we wake up from our dream. But to have dreamed before is an experience all of its own. So why don’t we unabashedly pick up our guilty pleasure this Valentine’s (whether Anne Tyler, Mills & Boon, Twilight or anything else) and allow ourselves to be safely sucked into a romance that leaves no scars or bitter memories afterwards?