My Personal War on Romance…

Ranty Runt's Rants

There have been some excellent posts recently about “romance shaming” and the battle that female authors have to be recognised and appreciated. Karin Kallmaker posted a series of great responses to an article published in the National Post, written by Jowita Bydlowska, that dismissed works in the romance genre as being lesser and lamenting that her novel wasn’t appreciated, as it should have been, by fans of these ‘lesser works.’

I’ve been sitting on a post for the past week about romance novels and cliché, but a series of very interesting articles about the romance genre made me reconsider my own viewpoint. The following is some of the thoughts that I have had about my reading habits in the past week.

I posted a comment to a very interesting blog about clichés that discussed which clichés readers enjoyed and  abhorred, and I noticed that my response was solely about clichés I disliked in the romance genre – a genre I hardly read.

Honestly, I don’t read any romance, and the few I have read over the years have been ones set by my English professors. I value the genre as much as any other, I acknowledge that many of the greatest works of literature fall under the umbrella of romance, but I just haven’t enjoyed reading them. I read action novels, thrillers and books about men saving the world from nuclear disaster. It is possible that I will come to love the romance genre as I currently love thrillers, I have no idea where my interests are headed, and I like the mystery of the journey. I considered all of this evidence of not dismissing romance, and thought to myself –  I’m obviously okay because I don’t hold romance in lesser esteem than other genres.


I’ve taken a critical look over my reading lists, and have been disappointed in myself. I may not read romance (which is fine!) but there was a more important group missing from my goodreads read list – female authors.

  1. Of the 24 books I’ve read this year so far, only 1 was written by a woman. (I disliked it because I chose to read from a genre I don’t usually enjoy.)
  2. Last year I read 4 books by female authors. FOUR. Two of the four were prescribed in my university reading list.
  3. I generally give lower ratings to female authors.

The above three points make me ill. They make me want to take action, however, I’m not about to read a bunch of classics written by women to fix this skew in my reading. I’ll rate them lower (I tend to rate classics on a more critical scale, genre fiction on level of enjoyment) and lead to more of point 3 occurring. Also, I want to help female authors in the now – the women who have written excellent books but can’t get a foot in the door because they are writing for male dominated genres.

I’ve never been asked to review my reading habits, and my excuse in my head for the imbalance in male vs. female authors, is that the genres I read are male dominated domains. Which is definitely true, you don’t see much military fiction or military non-fiction being written by women. But just because I don’t see it, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I need to hunt out female authors who write in the genres I enjoy reading, and add them to my reading list. Not only will I get to explore more authors, but they will also gain a reader (and sometime reviewer), and although I personally won’t change anything for that author, maybe if enough people make the same decision, it would.

I’d also like to think more critically about the characters in the books I read. In ‘Death Force,’ a book I finished a week ago, the main character had a female love interest (it’s always hetero-normative too) and she made breakfast for a group of soldiers. All throughout the book the men had been making breakfast for one another, so this didn’t seem odd or offensive – it was the following line (and I’ve returned the book to the library so this isn’t a direct quote) that jumped out and slapped me in the face – ‘that it was good for the men to have a woman cook them breakfasts, because it was like a piece of normalcy.’ Like seriously, WTF. The mental picture of every man having a woman in the kitchen cooking him breakfast, as is her job? I hate it.

I’d like more female characters in the books I read to be complex, involved and strong. I don’t think of women in terms of men’s love interests, and that is how we are always portrayed in action novels. I’m not saying I only want to read female characters saving the world single handed-ly, but on occasion maybe we sould be given that honour. Only if it doesn’t inconvenience the worldview of the author, of course.


Other installments in Ranty Runt’s Rants:

The worst time to love a reader
My personal war on romance
Breaking a blogging slump

Weekly Review Spree 8/3/15

18660669Vampire Academy – Richelle Mead – 2 stars

I started off really enjoying Vampire Academy, and was really intrigued by the premise. However I started to feel like the novel was juvenile with emotional hooks that completely missed their intended target. I went from tolerating Rose (and possibly identifying with her) to finding her horrible, manipulative and petty. I don’t like the way teenagers are portrayed in this novel, they get no respect. If there was more character development and Rose went from being horrible, manipulative and petty to being less of the aforementioned traits I could have enjoyed it, but by the end of the book the only change was that I added selfish to the list. The characters seemed to think they were great people, and were always the victim, and while that mentality can be interesting to read about, Mead seemed completely oblivious to the way her characters come across. I feel like character progression will happen in future novels, but I’m not willing to read them to find out. I’m starting to realise that most of the YA I enjoy is of the bildungsroman variety and not just a way for teenagers to get their M rated sex scenes with the stereotypical ‘tall, dark and handsome.’

16059717Close to the Bone – Stuart MacBride – 4 stars (also could win an award for favourite cover – look at the spooky pretty!)

Close to the Bone would have to be my favourite Logan McCrae novel I have read to date, mainly because it is more about the personal lives of the police officers than previous instalments. For the first time I hated Logan in this book, but I then felt so sorry for him a little later, so manipulative of my delicate emotions, Mr MacBride! The crime was interesting, and they discussed slash fanfiction, which made me chuckle and reminded me of my youth when I was obsessed with X-files fanfiction. I did miss Logan’s reporter friend and I felt like the situation with a certain someone was left unresolved, but hopefully that will be reconciled in the next novel? Also, I cried like a baby at the conclusion of this novel,  not something I do with every crime novel I read.

16183104Partners in Crime (two short stories) – Stuart MacBride- 3 stars

As I have been reading the Logan McRae series I was excited to find this collection of two short stories available for kindle. I didn’t like either of these stories as much as I enjoyed the previous short story I read, The 45% Hangover, but they were interesting and funny. If you have half an hour spare, and are already a fan of the series, then they are worth your time, but they wouldn’t make a good introduction into this world.


19065866Red Stripes (short story)- Matt Hilton – 3 stars

Yet another short story, this one was a Joe Hunter yarn. It wasn’t thick with plot or characters but it was packed with action. Oh! So much action! I really do enjoy Joe Hunter stories and was very relieved when Mr Hilton announced on his blog that the next Joe Hunter novel will be out mid this year, now I just have to wait, and while I am waiting, I will read his collection of other Hunter short stories.

Other Bookish Stuff

I didn’t make it to Geoffrey McGeachin’s event that happened during Adelaide Writer’s Week, which makes me a little sad – but I wasn’t feeling well enough to go, and I’m trying hard to not push myself physically.

Exciting news for this week is that C.J. Box’s new novel, Endangered, is out on the 10th, I’ve preordered it on kindle (thanks for kindle vouchers, lovely family), and can’t wait to read it!

I’m currently reading Fire Force, which is book 2 in the ‘Death Force’ series, and am loving it so far. The only problem is it seems to be a completed series with only 3 or 4 books, and I know I’m going to want more.