Maybe you’ve caught a few judgmental glances at the checkout line of your local bookstore. And maybe, just maybe, your bestie did a bit of an eye roll when you whipped out your romantic beach read on the sand. From cover to content, romance novels can catch some flak from people who don't truly understand why many of us are passionate about those gooey, heart-eyed tales of romance. In fact, there are a few benefits of reading romance novels you might not have even realized.
In the same way sci-fi peaks an interest in time travel, and a good mystery brings out your inner detective, romance novels are a celebration of love that spark hope in readers, and they also teach some valuable lessons along the way. At the heart of it all, romance novels are meant to be an exploration of love that often celebrate female power and success. To anyone who isn’t immediately hooked by a cover of two lovers holding hands, or a steamy description of racing heartbeats, romance novels might not be their go-to cup of tea. But, there is a beautiful magic to the way happiness, loyalty, and love are represented in these novels that no other genre depicts quite the same way.
Admittedly, not all romance novels have these effects, and a lot of them can be a tad too cheesy. Still, you can’t judge a genre by one book, or even five. It takes time to find the book or author that’s right for you, but once you do, there’s an understanding of the genre that washes over you just like the first time you finished your favorite Harry Potter book.
Here are a few benefits of getting into a good romance novel.
1. Feminism Is Front And Center
An appreciation for a good love story isn’t anything to be ashamed of. In fact, what draws many women into the plot of a good romance is an emphasis on female power and the ability of the woman to make decisions that contribute to her success in life and in love. More often than not, romance novels are written by women, for women. This is great, because it creates a genre that addresses female pleasure and power. It also promotes open discussion about love.
2. It’s OK To Fall In Love With The Idea Of Love
Book critics and society in general can be quick to judge women for enjoying a sappy film or book. This may be a reason why some women think twice before pulling out a romance novel in public, or talk about it openly with their fellow book lovers. But, the genre itself fights back against this stigma. Given the chance, romance novels show readers that it’s more than OK to appreciate the concept of love and to invest real time into thinking about it. It acknowledges the fact that affection is a very human thing to crave, and empowers readers to discuss this more openly in their everyday lives.
3. You Learn From Characters’ Mistakes
Reading is like living vicariously through the eyes of different people all around the world, or even in completely non-existent, far-away worlds. In taking a romantic journey through the eyes of a fictional character, readers are able to make mistakes and solve problems surrounding love, without it having any actual effect on their everyday lives. These lessons aren’t just applicable the next time you happen to run into Fabio at the supermarket, or a stereotypical motorcycle-riding cutie. These books teach important lessons about communication, loyalty, and problem solving -- both personally and with a partner.
4. Novels Give You More Freedom Than Romance Movies
As much as you might love When Harry Met Sally or Love Actually, there’s a certain magic about being able to read a romantic story and imagine everything in your head, rather than seeing it on a screen. Reading allows you to picture every character the way you dream them up to be in your mind -- from their voice, to their walk. This makes it easier to imagine yourself as the main character and become more invested in the actual story.
5. There Are Genres Within Genres
Not every tale of love and romance involves guys with flowing dark hair and half-open button-down shirts. One fantastic thing about romance novels is that the content is just as diverse as the authors. There is a book out there for everyone. If you’re looking for a romance story set in the Victorian era, a love story with a supernatural twist, an LGBT+ romance, or something involving Vikings, there's a novel out there waiting for you to pick it up. The imagination stretches far beyond kissing in the rain when it comes to romance. Just like any other genre, romance novels rely on the reader to find their perfect match.
6. Your Understanding Of People And Relationships Deepens
When written with some care and insight, romance novels can provide lessons in love for people of any age. Protagonists in romance novels are not all bright-eyed teens who have fallen in love for the first time. In fact, some of the greatest romance novels involve people who have been in love too many times to count, or characters who haven’t figured out how to navigate the dating world at all. Whether you’re 20 or 50, there are always lessons to be learned about understanding others, communicating with them, and strengthening the relationships we have with people. This even extends beyond a romantic level, as many romance novels also focus on friendship and family life.
7. Sometimes, You Just Need A Story With A Happy Ending
Some books are meant to make readers scream with laughter or curl up under a blanket on a rainy day and have a much-needed cry. But literature of all genres is meant to make readers feel something. Romance novels are generally made with the intention of making readers feel joy, hope, and positivity. You can almost always look forward to a happy ending when you pick up a romantic book. Whether it involves your two favorite characters finally getting together, or the protagonist realizing that there is something or someone better out there for them, romance novels are hopeful above all else.