Today’s Booking Through Thursday had me pretty well stumped, which I found interesting. I mean, I know I’m not a big fan of capital R “Romance,” but you’d think, being the complete sap that I am, I’d be able to rattle off plenty of examples of beautifully “romantic” reads.
The first one that came to mind was Message in a Bottle. Really, though, there was only one bit of the book that stood out in my memory (which was left out of the movie – boy, did that burn my biscuits), and that doesn’t seem to make it a fair contender.
Next up, Tipping the Velvet. A better choice, as it’s one of the few books I’ve read with a storyline that somewhat parallels my own love life (queer, butch-femme, the way one of the relationships develops), but still, the romance I found compelling in that one is only really covered in a small bit of the book. That doesn’t count, right?
So I visited my trusty LibraryThing catalog. Surely something in my 4-5 star range will be more…. romance-y. But really, the “love stories” that exist as sub-plots in the books I love are messed up. Like, seriously codependent, or abusive in some way, or otherwise unhealthy. What gives? So this got me thinking about how “romance” is portrayed in books and media.
As for me, yes, I have a tendency toward codependence. Yes, I have stayed too long in an abusive relationship. Yes, I have plenty of work to do in therapy to make sure I’m the healthiest “me” I can be, in general and for my partner. But I don’t elevate my behaviors to “devotion” or “truly in love” or “unconditional” or whatever other crap is used as justification for ignoring our own needs because of a partner. Almost every book I’ve ever read with some romantic thread has an example of one of these unhealthy behaviors masked as something desirable. Is that just because of the genres I read, or is it across the board? Are we unsatisfied with healthy relationships because we aren’t throwing aside our lives to prove our love, like we see in books, film, and television?