Romance or Love-Which do you prefer?

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In light of red roses, the color pink, and heart-shaped boxes of dark chocolate, it is only fitting that Shenandoah dedicate a blog post to all of the hopeless romantics out there. From Jane Austen’s classics to the work of modern authors like Nicholas Sparks, there is no denying that books about love are satisfying and perfect.

According to Google search engine, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is the number one best selling romance novel of all time. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre follows at number two and Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander comes in at number three (Twilight takes the number four spot).

I admit that I wasn’t too surprised with the rankings. All of the tops are well deserved (with the possible exception of Twilight). But then I started thinking about the romance genre as a whole—isn’t it somewhat limited? Think about it—in the end, the two characters are either together or they aren’t. That’s the gist of it. So what exactly are these romantic readers falling for?

Is it the individual characters that readers adore? Is it the “cute meet” that the author creates for the couple that readers drool over? Is it the epic end where the two finally come together that makes us turn the page? Perhaps, the real hook is the notion that because love is written about, it isundoubtedly out there for everyone, specifically the reader.

But this leads me to my point—haven’t you already found love? Seriously, answer the question. Even if you are #single, I am sure that you have. And if you are limiting your idea of love to having a partner, then I am disappointed and I challenge you to think bigger. In fact, I’ll answer the question for you—yes, you certainly have found love.

Would you say that you love your dog? Or maybe you have a best friend who you love? I’m sure you love your dad or your brother. Maybe you even love your bed? What about Cheez-its or Friday night football? If you’ve got kids, (hopefully) you love them too.

Maybe, you see what I’m getting at here—the idea that there are many kinds of love. It is practically limitless. But, when people want to read a novel about love, they don’t think to grab Wilson Rawls’s Where the Red Fern Grows to read about a boy’s love for his dogs. Instead, they’ll go for books that classify as romance.

But if it is the idea of love that readers are obsessed with, then why do we limit our horizons to a love between a girl and a boy, when we could be reading about all of the types of love that are out there? So, really the question, I leave you with is—would you rather read a novel about romance or love?

About Anna Dibenedetto

Anna Dibenedetto is a junior English major with a minor in Creative writing at Washington and Lee.  She is from Greenville, S.C., but hopes to migrate to NYC and flourish in the magazine industry.

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2 Responses to Romance or Love-Which do you prefer?

  1. Laura Berry says:

    I think this is certainly an important distinction to make, especially in terms of literature. My favorite “romance” novel of all time is Wuthering Heights. I think it captures passionate love without the candy coating. I like your point about Where the Red Fern Grows, though. The kind of love captured in its pages is about as real as anything else I can imagine.

  2. Eleanor Haeg says:

    I think you argue a clever point–love doesn’t have to be romantic to be considered love. My favorite romance novel is Hemingway’s “Farewell To Arms,” but in terms of my favorite book about love, I would have to think a little harder. So I agree, the number of books about love is much larger probably than the number of romance novels, but I am still deciding which one I think is better. I think in terms of Valentine’s Day, I would like to read a romantic novel where the two lovers undoubtedly get together, but I might opt for a book about general love any other day of the year.

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