It’s Top Ten Tuesday, and this week, we’re discussing why male readers may avoid romance novels, along with a list of ten authors men might enjoy reading.
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It’s Top Ten Tuesday, where we post a list of 10 of our best/favorite/most important book-ish-related items, depending on the theme of the week. Thank you to That Artsy Reader Girl for providing us with this feature and creative ideas.
“Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.”
Table of contents
- Top Ten Tuesday: Male Readers and Romance Novels
- 10 Reasons Why Men Won’t Read Romance Novels
- Why Men Should Read Romance Novels
- 10 Old-School Romance Authors Men Might Enjoy Reading
- Final Thoughts on Men Reading Romance Novels
- Your Opinion?
Top Ten Tuesday: Male Readers and Romance Novels
Since this week’s theme for Top Ten Tuesday is “genre freebie,” we’re sticking with romance. Instead of one list, we’re doing two.
There is a common perception that the romance genre is exclusively for and by women. However, this is not entirely true, as men also read romance novels. While most readers and writers may be women, statistics show that around 18% of readers are men.
We’ve often discussed the numerous male authors who have written romance novels. If men write romance, it’s only logical that some read the genre. After all, romantic love is a universal human emotion.
Today, we’ll examine ten reasons men may hesitate to read romance novels and then explore why they should reconsider. Afterward, we’ll list ten writers who can change men’s minds and make them enjoy reading romance.
10 Reasons Why Men Won’t Read Romance Novels
Let’s address the elephant in the room and dive into the reasons why many men won’t read romance novels:
The notion that romance is exclusively for women has led to a stigma surrounding male readers. Men fear judgment and ridicule, but it’s essential to remember that reading is for everyone, regardless of the genre.
For a long time, the romance genre has been seen as exclusive to female readers. Men look at porn. Women read romance; isn’t that the perception? But the truth is that women do watch porn, and men read romance, too.
But the stigma continues today and might be a major reason men don’t read romance novels.
2. Too Much Romance
Romance novels tend to focus on two characters and their relationship, which may not seem exciting to an outsider.
The structure of these books is seen as formulaic. Boy meets girl, boy and girl play the game of will they or won’t they, they fall in love, an obstacle comes into their path, they overcome it, and finally, they live happily ever after.
An action, horror, or spy thriller is more exciting, right?
Not all romances are so straightforward; many have complex subplots. And in the hands of a talented author, a love story can be as exciting as any other plot.
3. Sapping Focus
Although some view romance novels as a diversion from more “substantial” literature, the act of reading any genre can offer a crucial form of respite and pleasure. It’s worth noting that men generally read fewer books, with a particular tendency to avoid fiction and gravitate toward nonfiction instead.
4. Disregard for Traditional Masculinity
It”s true that some male characters in modern-day romance novels can be portrayed as “too sensitive and emotional.” These protagonists seem more of a woman’s idea of what a man should be, with fewer men depicted as traditionally masculine.
But romance novels can go to either extreme with their heroes.
On one side is the older trope of the “Alpha” male. He can be cruel, chauvinistic, violent, and a cheater. This character is still prevalent in modern romances, especially darker New Adult romances, as well as in old-school reads.
On the other side of the spectrum are heroes who are so considerate, sensitive, thoughtful, and in touch with every feeling (and needing to talk about them constantly!) that they don’t read as realistic men.
However, the truth is, just as in real life, most men in romance novels fall somewhere in between. They are shades of gray, not black-and-white personalities.
5. Stereotypical Representations
On the other hand, some men may shy away from romance due to the reputation of the aforementioned “Alpha” male hero. But as we noted, the romance genre has plenty of stories that challenge stereotypes and feature diverse protagonists.
They’re ubiquitous in modern-day romances.
In old-school romances, you’re more likely to find these heroes in contemporary category lines like Harlequin’s Temptation, American Romance, SuperRomance, Bantam’s Loveswept, and older Silhouette Romance and Desires. Plus, historical romances from the late 1980s onward had a vast assortment of male main characters.
The truth is, there are lots of nice guy heroes in romances, and we love them! (That is to say, genuinely nice guys, not “nice guys.”)
6. The Covers
Admittedly, we have zero shame about romance novel clinch covers. We proudly carry our bodice rippers openly, with their over-the-top, dazzling, and often erotic images. These covers may be embarrassing to some, but there’s no need to feel this way. It’s important not to judge a book by its cover, as hidden gems might lie within.
Many covers for romance books have couples on them. Others have muscular, shirtless men. Unsurprisingly, the latter trend might have discouraged some males from purchasing a book solely based on visuals alone, regardless of how much potential enjoyment could be extracted from reading a love story.
7. Genre Exclusion Bias
Publishers and bookstores have historically segregated books by target audiences, such as sex. This marketing tactic may discourage men from reading romance novels. It’s important that all readers feel welcome to explore any genre that interests them without feeling discouraged or excluded.
8. Unaffordability or Lack of Availability
The cost and limited availability of physical copies might deter some readers. Yes, we know how expensive some rare, hard-to-find retro romance novels are. However, digital books offer a more affordable and convenient option. Plus, with Kindle Unlimited, you can pay a monthly fee to read as many books as possible, and many old-school authors have released their books in digital format.
9. Preference Towards Other Genres
Personal preferences play a significant role in what readers choose to pick up. Men who enjoy suspense, action, or horror might gravitate toward those genres, but romance can offer a refreshing change of pace.
While we all need break time between work rest days, sometimes we opt to escape reality through one medium or another, letting fantasy engulf the world. Immersing ourselves in the written word can help de-stress. Men fantasize about being Jack Reacher, Agent 007, Conan the Barbarian, Robin Hood, or even Atticus Finch. But they might be surprised to know that there are numerous aspirational heroes in romance novels
10. Bad Writing, Silly Plots, or Too Fluffy
Bad writing is certainly an aspect of many books we review. Even so, not all romance novels fall into this category. In fact, many genre authors are skilled storytellers, crafting captivating narratives with depth and substance.
While Sturgeon’s Law always applies (90% of everything is crap), the top 10% of books in the romance genre are pure gold.
Why Men Should Read Romance Novels
Now that we’ve debunked some misconceptions, let’s explore why men should give romance novels a chance.
1. Emotional Connection
Romance novels delve into the complexities of human emotions, fostering empathy and understanding. They portray relationships and personal growth in a way that can resonate with readers from all walks of life.
Like any other genre, romance novels offer a beautiful escape from reality. They transport readers to exciting, passionate worlds filled with love, adventure, and compelling characters.
3. Relationship Insight
Romance novels can offer valuable insights into relationships and communication. Readers may better understand their feelings and connections by exploring love’s intricacies.
4. Authentic Representation
Modern romance literature celebrates diverse identities and relationships. It portrays men and women in ways that reflect the complexities of real-life individuals, debunking outdated stereotypes.
5. Men Want Emotional Fulfillment and Love, Just As Women Do
Men need love, don’t they? In fact, men even write romance!
As Kazaikos wrote on Tumblr:
Why I Love Anakin And Padme #12
Reason #12 (No particular order)
Anakin and Padme’s relationship was envisioned and created by a man, yet it’s so romantic… Growing up I was under the impression that boys and romance were incompatible; only girls liked that mushy stuff. Well, George is very into shakespeareanesque story telling, he’s a definite romantic. For the record, the character of Anakin Skywalker is the exact same, and so is Luke.
If you burn it down Anakin is the romantic ideals of George and Luke is the actual self insert of GL.Kazaikos.tumblr
10 Old-School Romance Authors Men Might Enjoy Reading
Now that we’ve convinced you to give romance a try, here are ten talented authors whose novels can change your perspective on the genre:
1. Suzanne Brockmann
If you’re a man who likes action, sci-fi, and romance and wants great writing, Suzanne Brockmann’s books offer the perfect blend of excitement and love. She has written about military men, Navy seals, scientists, and adventure-seekers.
2. Jayne Ann Krentz
Known for her engaging storytelling, Jayne Ann Krentz weaves thrilling mysteries into her contemporary romance narratives. She also writes historicals as Amanda Quick and paranormal romances as Jayne Castle. Krentz has a wonderful ability to write men as men are, not as women idealize them to be.
3. Nora Roberts
A prolific author who has sold over 400 million copies of her books, Nora Roberts crafts heartwarming stories filled with compelling characters. As J.D. Robb, she has written a long-running series of futuristic romances/police procedural mysteries featuring Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband, Roarke.
4. Roberta Gellis
For historical romance fans, Robert Gellis’ books transport readers to fascinating eras. Her earthy love stories are heavy on history and true to their time periods, so they can be considered both romance novels and historical fiction. While she mostly wrote about the medieval era, she also wrote some Regency/French Revolution-era romances, paranormals, and medieval mysteries.
Bond of Blood, Fire Song
5. Teresa Medieros
Medeiros’ romantic tales are infused with humor and enchanting settings. Whether it’s writing a western, a medieval, or a paranormal romance about vampires, she always adds warmth, humanity, and excitement to her novels.
6. Rosanne Bittner
Rosanne Bittner is a talented author with a passion for immersing readers in the captivating world of love and adventure in the vast American frontier. Her sweeping sagas are a testament to her ability to create vivid and engaging stories that transport readers to a bygone era of excitement and romance.
7. Deana James
With rich historical details, Deana James’ novels bring the past to life with compelling romances. Under her real name, Mona Dean Sizer, she wrote historical biographies about thrilling, pivotal figures in Texas history.
8. Con Sellers
Con Sellers, born Connie, was a male author who wrote in various genres: pulp, western, science fiction, and romance. He wrote powerful love stories with strong heroines and action-packed plots. Unfortunately, he only wrote a handful of romances, which are wonderful.
Sellers’ romances are action-packed and authentic, depicting heroines imbued with grit, grace, and integrity.
9. Leigh Greenwood
Leigh Greenwood, born Howard Lowry, is another male romance writer that men might appreciate.
Greenwood was inspired to write romance novels after his wife introduced him to the genre. He fell in love with historical romances and decided to write one himself. After joining the Romance Writers of America and three attempts, he finished his first romance novel, Wyoming Wildfire. His Western romances offer captivating love stories set in the Old West.
10. Emma Darcy
Experience the thrilling books of the late writing team of Frank and Wendy Brennan, a dynamic husband and wife duo. Their narratives were full of twists and turns, set in the luxurious realm of billionaires, royalty, and sheiks.
Their authentic portrayal of both sexes is refreshing and more down-to-earth than the typical dramatic Harlequin Presents fare. Emma Darcy’s novels are a perfect choice if you enjoy melodramatic plots and glittering settings.
Final Thoughts on Men Reading Romance Novels
Reading romance is not just for women; it’s a genre that offers something for everyone. So, gentlemen, don’t shy away from picking up a romance novel and immersing yourselves in the delightful world of love, passion, and adventure. Give it a chance, and you might discover a whole new world of storytelling that resonates with your heart and soul.
What are your thoughts on men reading romance novels? Are you a guy who enjoys reading them? Let us know what books you enjoy reading!
As always, please drop a comment, and let’s talk romance.