For decades, the best-selling fiction genre has been romance, with contemporary romance novels leading the pack. Even during economic downturns, readers of all ages and genders continue to buy romance books. They’re a draw for bibliophiles across the board—while women make up the largest number of romance readers, studies show that men also enjoy the escape contemporary novels provide.
Once thought as simple fodder for vacation and beach reads, sales show that we read romance novels all year long. From housewives and young adults to CEOs and moguls, smart, adventurous women—and men—love romance books.
What is the allure of contemporary romance books? Is it the escapism we all crave or the desire to believe in the mere existence of all-consuming, true love?
Here are few ideas that some readers shared with us.
One of the things that makes contemporary romance novels stand out from other genres are the protagonists. The characters we read about in modern books tend to be strong individuals who overcome serious challenges or evolve in a way that inspires readers. Whether they’re relatable—like someone you’d meet for a drink after work—or a duchess, they’re designed to inspire.
A Place to Relate
Regardless of the setting or characters, romance books can help us better understand ourselves and the choices we make. When we see that a character makes a mistake or bad decision that we can relate to, this helps us see that we’re not alone. Even though we’re reading fiction, the author or someone they know probably experienced something similar to the character’s predicament. This reminds us that we’re all human and others may share the same beliefs and problems we face. It also helps us see that we don’t need to be so hard on ourselves—and may lead us towards better choices the next time around.
Romance books give us an opportunity to witness characters who have healthy sexual appetites, just like many of us. When we see others share the same feelings and behaviors that we do—even fictional characters—it helps us accept and embrace our own sexuality.
Hope is everything for many romance readers. One of the defining characteristics of the romance genre is the happy ending. Readers love to believe in the protagonist’s ability to overcome adversity and find that happiness in their soulmate’s arms. It’s intoxicating—but in a pure, healthy way.
Whether the happy ending gives us something to strive for or simply makes us feel good, it benefits us in many ways. The next time you reach for a romance book, know that it can help you work towards more happiness and positivity in your own life.
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