The holidays are in full swing here, with celebrations, shopping, wrapping and cooking, so I was planning to talk about traditions in today’s post (or maybe just post a photo of my dining room table covered in platters of cookies and other treats), but then I came across an interesting article on the Kirkus Reviews website talking about “Love, Romance, Gender and Genre” and changed my mind.
The article, written by freelance writer, book reviewer, and romance advocate Bobbi Dumas talked about the universal yearning to be loved for who we are and the importance of romance stories.
“They can represent the very best of the human experience – the power of love.”
She also talked specifically about gay and lesbian romance, a genre/sub-genre that has exploded over the past decade, providing stories that are not limited by traditional gender constraints and are aimed at readers who previously were under-represented (or not represented at all) in mainstream romances.
“For kids who grow up thinking that there’s something wrong with them for feeling the way they do, then what a gift to find a book that represents exactly who they are or what they’re going through.”
The article got me thinking about the thought-provoking post Kay wrote a few days ago about the racial divide in America, how that is reflected in current publishing, and how important diverse literature is.
“Diverse kids’ literature gives children of colour a chance to see themselves as heroes, which is vital. But books with non-white protagonists can also give white children a chance to see people of colour as something other than anxiety-producing stereotypes.”
Both articles stressed the need for books that reflect the diversity of race, gender, orientation, etc. of readers. According to the RWA 2013 ROMStat Report (RWR Magazine, November 2014) Young Adult romances are the favourite romance sub-genre to read for 18.3% of readers, while New Adult romances are the favourite of 26.3% of readers. That’s a lot of potential young readers looking for stories that they can enjoy and, more importantly, that they can relate to.
The comments in Kay’s post included several recommendations for books that are racially diverse, and Bobbi’s article contained a number of LGBTQ+ author/book recommendations including:
The Paying Guests, by Sarah Waters
Fever Pitch, by Heidi Cullinan
Five Dates, by Amy Jo Cousins
Every Day, by David Levithan
The lists on Goodreads can be a great source for book/author recommendation and the lists below provide some additional recommendations for books that feature gay protagonists.
So, have you read any good “non-traditional” romances lately or do you have any recommendations to add to these lists?