Z711.5 → Romance Resources: An Annotated Bibliography

After writing the post the other week about romance and reader's advisory, I really began thinking about resources that could be useful to librarians. As noted in that post, many librarians don't read a lot of novels from the romance genre and while databases like Novelist are extremely helpful in providing information, there are other sources that provide extremely valuable information about not only individual books but the overall genre itself.

Wendell, S. & Tan, C. (2009). Beyond heaving bosoms: the smart bitches' guide to romance novels. New York: Simon & Schuster.
This book is one of my favourites because it provides a wonderful primer on many aspects of the genre. It's written by the co-founders of the Smart Bitches website noted below, and the humour from the website certainly transfers to the book. Wendell and Tan do an excellent job of running down various aspects of the genre, with separate chapters on the history of the genre, discussions on both the hero and the heroine, and two - two! - chapters on the depiction of sex (of the good and bad variety) in romance. All that, plus the authors really have fun with the format - providing fun little asides in which readers can create their own hero (and follow steps to name him!) and construct their own (hilarious!) sex scene. [Find it a library near you]

Wendell, S. (2011). Everything I know about love I learned from romance novels. Naperville, Ill.: Sourcebooks Casablanca.
This is Wendell's follow-up to the book discussed above. In this book, Wendell focuses more on the reader's perspective on and interactions with romance novels. There is much discussion about what about romance in general and in particular attracts readers to the genre. The book includes quotes and discussion from popular authors on both their experience with the genre from both an author and readership perspective. Another nice benefit is the inclusion of excerpts from several popular novels, as they serve as a means of support for the various arguments that Wendell makes throughout the book. [Find it at a library near you]

I love pretty much everything about this website - from the title on down. This website does such good for the romance genre and romance novels in general. Not only do they do regular (often hilarious) reviews of both new and (some) old romance novels, but they also have interesting discussions about the genre itself. From posts on cliches and tropes to podcasts devoted to discussion on the romance canon - this site is an excellent resource for learning more about the genre. All this, plus an excellent comments section that shows the varying range of romance readers' opinions and their interests.

Dear Author, much like Smart Bitches, is a site dedicated to reviewing romance novels. While there isn't as much discussion about the genre overall, DA does do an excellent job of compiling news on the romance genre, overall publishing, as well as copyright and e-pub issues and their implications for the romance genre. This is a great source for librarians to educate themselves not only for knowledge of romance reviews but also for information regarding emerging technology news and its implications for romance and libraries.

This website is the probably my favourite for accessing reviews of romance novels. Despite a bit of a dated site design, this site boasts over 7,000 reviews with new ones every day. Not only that, but the site has a pretty excellent search function in their power search page, wherein you can select to search by review grade (which is obviously a bit subjective) in addition to a prescribed "sensuality type" (it goes from 'kisses' to 'burning' which ... heh!) as well as an extensive book type section. The book type section is probably one of my favourite things ever - the ability to search out books and reviews based on romance sub-genres - from 'alternate reality romance' to 'witch romance.' There are so many possibilities there. Whenever I'm in the mood to check out something new but I don't know what, this is the site I turn to to find it. I usually use a combination of review grade - though I hate the fact that multiple grades can't be searched at once - and sub-genres to find some good books.

Scholarly Articles
Ménard, A.D. & Cabrera, C. (2011). 'Whatever the approach, tab B still fits into slot A': Twenty years of sex scripts in romance novels. Sexuality & Culture, 15: 240-255.
This article looks at how sex and sexuality are portrayed in contemporary romance novels and how they have changed over the past twenty years. Sampling from past RWA winners from 1987 to 2009, they authors quantitatively analyze the content of each novel, coding the sexual scenes with respect to the characterization of both the male and female main characters.

Brackett, K.P. (2000). Facework strategies among romance fiction readers. The Social Science Journal, 37(3), 347-360.
This article is a fascinating study of romance readers who often attempted preventative strategies in order to prevent others from knowing and/or judging their romance reading habit. Preventative strategies discussed include concealment, criticism, and separating oneself from a typical reader. This is an interesting article is read from the perspective of librarians, as it gives exception insight onto the perspectives of romance readers and why some may find it difficult to engage with the genre in the library setting.

Veros, V. (2012). The romance reader and the public library. The Australian Library Journal, 61(4), 298-306.
The author, writing from an Australian perspective on both libraries and romance, focuses this article on  romance novels and the library in relation to the readers, the catalogue records, and e-books. The author concludes that there are still many practices within public libraries that marginalize romance readers. This is an interesting, though short, article to read in order to gain further perspective on how libraries and librarians can act differently in order to encourage romance readership in their own libraries.

Adkins, D., Esser, L., Velasquez, D., Hill, H.L. (2008). Romance novels in American public libraries: a study of collection development practices. Library Collections, Acquisitions & Technical Services, 32, 59-67.
The authors of this article, by means of a survey, examine the collection and holdings of romance fiction in American public libraries, categorized into urban, suburban and rural library facilities. An interesting section of this article includes statistics related to the collection of romance sub-genres, such as historical and erotica. The article also provides statistics and discussion on the acquisitions budget of public libraries for the genre, including the categories of purchases and donations. 

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