A few weeks ago, we shared a commonly-asked question in one of our weekly e-newsletters: Do you include romance novels in your Library?
We shared a range of solutions from experienced stewards, some of whom love romance novels and others who look at their Little Libraries through “mom eyes.”
We received several emails from fans of the romance genre who felt that romances definitely have their place.
One of those emails was from Sarah Wendell, author of the well-known blog and podcast Smart B**ches, Trashy Books. Below are her thoughts on including romance novels in Little Free Libraries.
Greetings, most excellent Little Free Library stewards! Thank you for what you do! I just moved to a new neighborhood which boasts three LFLs within walking distance, so I’m very likely greeting my neighbors (and to whomever made the Tardis LFL, you’re terrific).
I was invited to talk a bit about romance novels after the recent newsletter asking if romances should be included in your Libraries. I’m the co-founder and current mastermind of a website devoted to romance fiction, which features reviews, discussion, and a podcast about the books we love. I’ve also written two books about the romance genre as well. So I know, well, two or three things about the genre. Maybe four.
I want to address the question of whether to welcome romance into your Libraries. Short answer: yes, you should! Thanks for having me!
Longer answer: I understand that the issue foremost in many stewards’ minds is the explicit content of some romances. Some of you may be concerned that the varying levels of sensuality may present a problem for some of their local readers. And yup, romances do indeed feature a wide range of sensuality, just as mysteries and thrillers feature varying level of violence and gore. (And if you’re not limiting the presence of mysteries, why limit the presence of romance?)
I have two young humans in my house, and as a reviewer, I get romances delivered to our door almost daily. There are many, MANY romances in my house at all times, and my kids are extremely uninterested in them.
Based on that anecdata, and my observation of other children browsing open spaces for books to read, young readers who are searching a Little Library for a book to read likely wouldn’t consider a romance. Kids are pretty savvy about what is marketed to appeal to them, and romances are not within that realm.
And if a young person is interested in reading a romance, that is not at all a bad thing. They’re going to read about courtship, emotional connection, commitment, and the positive acceptance of flawed people. If you’re thinking that romances are all sex with no plot, I can assure you that is very far from the truth. I wouldn’t be writing about them for ten-plus years if that were the case!
Saying no to all romances diminishes a Library, and alienates any romance readers in your locality – and I promise, there are some. Romance readers are everywhere, and we’re voracious readers whose appetite for books always outpaces our budgets. Any library, be it a little free one or a giant county edifice, is a romance reader’s best friend. You’re serving your audience, all of it, by including romance.
Moreover, romance isn’t a monolith built of books afflicted with unending similarity. There are variations and combinations of sub-genres in romance, many of which include types you may already love, such as science fiction, contemporary, historical fiction, and mysteries both cozy and creeped-out-lights-on-where-is-the-dog-seriously-what-was-that-noise.
Each day I spend a lot of time helping readers connect with one another, and with books they love. It’s the best feeling to know a reader adored a book they just finished, and I know seeing the evolving collection in your Little Free Library must be equally terrific. I hope you’ll welcome romance into your collections so all readers can find books they’ll love.
If you’re looking for a recommendation, or need some help identifying a book that has appeared in your library and might be a romance, please feel free to email me. And, more importantly, if your Library has a lot of romance, please let me know so I can spread the word among readers! You can reach Sarah at sarah@smartbitchestrashybooks.
What do you think? Do you include romance novels? Do you have a strategy for maintaining the collection of books in your Little Free Library? Comment below!