Everything I Know about Love I Learned from Romance Novelsby Sarah Wendell
Take a dashing hero with a heart of gold and a mullet of awesome. Add a heroine with a bustle and the will to kick major butt. Then include enough contrivances to keep them fighting while getting them alone and possibly without key pieces of clothing, and what do you have? A romance novel. What else? Enough lessons about life, love, and everything in between to help you with your own happily-ever-after.
•Romance means believing you are worthy of a happy ending
•Learning to tell the prince from the frog
•Real-life romance is still alive and kicking
•No matter how bad it is, at least you haven't been kidnapped by a Scottish duke (probably)
Sarah Wendell is cofounder of one of the top romance blogs, SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.com.
"Winning, entertaining and highly persuasive... Fans of the romance genre are likely to come away feeling vindicated; newcomers may be inspired to pick up a few new paperbacks with racy covers" - Kirkus
"A joyous celebration of those novels we all love to read, romances." - Historical Hilarity
"If you ever had anyone sneer at you when you say you read romance novels, this is a book you should whip out and start quoting from." - Night Owl Reviews
"As a reader and a writer, I think this is a must read... " - Beck's Book Picks
"A pleasure to read... It promote[s] the positive elements of romance books. " - SOS Aloha
"This little book packs a wallop of laughs, spews smart sarcastic rhetoric with sound advise - add to that creative longings to make us dream, and mullets for years to come. " - Aisle B
"Ra-ra-romance!" - Chrisbookarama
"There's a strong argument here that the genre helps readers identify and articulate needs and feelings they already have, as they notice what kinds of books and heroes they gravitate toward." - Monkey See, NPR's Pop Culture Blog
"A humorous yet poignant guide to romance, both the highs and lows... a whole lot of fun that ended way too quickly. " - My House of Books
Think romances are about cruel yet dashing men forcing themselves on simpering, virginal women? Or that romance readers are desperate ladies whose most significant relationships are with their cats? Think again.
Wendell's debut, abrief apologia for the romance genre, is winning, entertaining and highly persuasive despite occasional lapses into silliness. The author,co-founder of the popular romance-novel review website "Smart Bitches, Trashy Books," quashes several stereotypes of romance novels and their devoted fans. She argues that the modern romance novel has, for the most part, done away with what she calls "rapetastic assclowns," instead providing women with a model of how to negotiate healthy relationships. Drawing on comments from readers of her website, Wendell makes the case that women learn from romance novels to be assertive and confident, and that more equitable and passionate relationships are the result. Sometimes, these reader comments make up the bulk of the text, giving the book the feel of an extended blog; the author's persistently jokey tone contributes to this as well. However, the snark often works well, like in the sidebar "Six Simple Steps to Looking Like the Quintessential Romance Hero," or in her description of a certain kind of romance hero: "I don't like you, you drive me nuts, I can't stop thinking about your hair, DAMMIT!"
Fans of the romance genre are likely to come away feeling vindicated; newcomers may be inspired to pick up a few new paperbacks with racy covers.
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Read an Excerpt
Romance reading has probably already taught you more than you realize. You might not be kidnapped by cross-dressing pirates and held for ransom, or find yourself outrunning a serial killer with the help of a very handsome, taciturn detective, but you will always find conflict in your relationships, whether it's bills and debt chasing you down a dark alley, or precarious sexual fulfillment lurking in your bedroom.
But fear not. Inside those stories is everything you need to have a happy, loving relationship. From books like Seducing a Sinner and Rescuing the Rake, you can learn about tricky subjects like Valuing Your Emotions and Having Real Conversations about Sex.
Welcome to Everything I Know about Love, I Learned from Romance Novels. In this handy little book, we can celebrate all the wonderful things we've learned about real-life love and romance that are hidden and not-so-hidden inside the average romance novel. What, you thought all those heaving bosom covers with impossibly Technicolor eye shadow were just for visual embarrassment and titillating thrills? Nope. Romance novels are much more complex than meets the eye-and we readers of romance know that better than most.
It's not hard to discount romance, and it's easy to take them way, way less than seriously. After all, there is a 95 percent chance that a romance novel cover will feature a mullet. Enough said.
But romance novels are complex and emotionally driven tales of courtship. And what better way to learn about relationships and how they start, fracture, and become stronger once repaired, than to read about those relationships in many, many permutations and variations? In all the thousands of romances where the boy meets the girl, stuff happens, and they get back together, there are a million-plus possibilities of how to repair what went wrong. And we're going to look at every one, from amnesiac twins and what they can teach us about truthfulness and identity to bank-robbing cowboys and what you can learn from them about bad boys and perhaps avoiding felony charges.
Who am I? And have I robbed a bank? No, not so much. I'm Sarah Wendell, better known as Smart Bitch Sarah from the romance novel website Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Smart Bitches reviews and discusses romance novels with a readership of many thousands of readers around the world-there are more romance fans than you dare suspect, and we're all very intelligent, fabulous dancers with minty-fresh breath, and as a bonus, we're all quite savvy when it comes to relationships too.
Ironically, many people who disdain the romance genre and look down on the women who read it presume that reading about courtship, emotional fulfillment, and rather fantastic orgasms leads to an unrealistic expectation of real life. If we romance readers are filling our own heads with romantic fantasies, real men and real life won't and cannot possibly measure up to our fairy-tale expectations, right? Wrong. Wrongity wrong wrong wrong. That accusation implies that we don't know the difference between fantasy and real life, and frankly, it's sexist as well. You don't see adult gamers being accused of an inability to discern when one is a human driving a real car and when one is a yellow dinosaur driving a Mario Kart, but romance readers hear about their unrealistic expectations of men almost constantly.
We're going to put that sorry notion away for good. In this book, you'll hear from me and other romance readers and writers as we explain both what we've learned about ourselves and about relationships. Sometimes the fantastical and impossible, such as the space captain with a streak of honor, or the sinking pirate ship populated with crewmen with impeccable manners and perfect teeth, can help translate reality better than any self-help book ever could. When you see your problems blown up into, dare I say, fantasy proportions, your real problems don't look so insurmountable. Fantasy, instead of distorting reality, can help you comprehend your reality.
For example, in many paranormal romances, especially urban fantasies, the fate of the world, if not the fate of the universe, may hinge on whether or not the heroes of the story figure out their pesky relationship problems and beat the bad guy. Their ability to kick ass and to kiss each other are equally important, because if they don't work their shit out, the planet might blow up. Comparing your current difficulty to that level of "OHCRAPNO" might help you gain perspective on how to handle it, and how to stop it from happening again.
This is not to say that problems are not important-they absolutely are. But no one knows better than romance fans that most problems are also very likely fixable with varying applications of hard work and some risks or maybe a righteous smack down with a broadsword and a photon-charged handgun.
Meet the Author
Sarah Wendell's day job involves a cloak, and possibly a dagger, but by night she's the cofounder of the influential romance blog SmartBitchesTrashyBooks.com.
She lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband and two children.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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In the vein of the SBTB site and Wendell's previous book (with Candy Tan), "Everything I Know about Love I Learned from Romance Novels" was funny, straightforward, and true. I loved the use of the quotes from readers and authors alike. I also very much appreciated the shopping list provided in the back of all the books that were quoted throughout the text; it was quite handy! I would recommend this book to lovers of the genre as well as those who have yet to be convinced.
Witty and original. A new perspective on romance writing and reading, especially of you aren't a regular romance reader. Clears up some misconceptions about who reads romance.
Candid, moving and hilareous look at the role romance plays in readers' lives
More of a self help book...
This was terrible.
It was well written, but not what I was expecting.