Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Book Club choice for non-romance readers--what book would you choose?

A friend works in the creative department at the soaps for P&G (Guiding Light and As the World Turns). She's invited me to recommend a title and then attend one of their Book Club meetings. Though I haven't been a daytime soap watcher, I am deeply respectful of the amazing job they do to sustain an hour a day, FIVE days a week of a continuity story for years. Decades. Now that is continuity storytelling!

I chose DANGEROUS MEN, ADVENTUROUS WOMEN; Romance Writers on the Appeal of the Romance, edited by Jayne Ann Krentz. It was originally published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 1992. I read it then and really found it interesting and am re-reading it now and still finding it filled with good perspectives. Patricia Smith was at UPP at the time and sheparded the project through--she'd been a Harlequin sales rep, an editor at Silhouette and not only had a great personal appreciation and insight into the genre, she knew Jayne and of course they worked with a roster of fabulous writers and advocates. Taking notes for my meeting I'm thinking about essays of my own I'd like to write--it's thought provoking--as well as points to discuss at the meeting:

Thinking about the subversive aspect of romances & a patriarchy; the connection of writers and readers/viewers, writers and actors; encoded language, expectations and boundaries; political correctness & feminism--emotional Vs intellectual connection; identification Vs place-holding; empowerment & what we mean by that....

Will need to think further on how some of the issues within the romance genre are potentially similar or different from soaps--whether due to being a visual storytelling medium, the content, or the form. And what does that mean? Hmmm. Rich.

On a seemingly separate topic, I thoroughly enjoyed Christina Dodd's TONGUE IN CHIC which I read during my recent travels. I picked up a copy after getting an email from her saying she was planning to do a post on how she enjoys Harlequin Presents on her group blog Squawk Radio It's there RIGHT NOW CHECK IT OUT (I am quoted! Cool!).

Of course I had to tell her about the fabulous IHeartPresents blog, which she, of course, already knew about. Some people know everything. If you don't know about it, go check it out. After you read Christina's post about how quintessentially delicious Harlequin Presents are, please look at the IHeartPresents blog.

But what was really amazing, along the lines of synchronicity, is that as I was reading TONGUE IN CHIC, there, on p.162, the heroine and the whole hotel crew are parked in her bedroom watching and guessed it, Guiding Light! I'm taking TIC to the Book Club meeting.

Christine (who knows everything) also just informed me that Michelle Buonfiglio is also blogging about Harlequin Presents! Do you know her delightful Romance by the Blog? May 2nd, "The Italian Footballer's Virgin Romance Columnist Bride" is all about Presents, mentions Christina's post and Squawk Radio. Its part of her Romance b(u)y the Book though her website and blog are going to be moving to in June--pretty cool--and will be at

Got back from Ecuador a little while ago, where my brother got married. It was very pretty.

As it happens his wife is from Ecuador, so there was a compelling reason to be there, but if you're planning a big event, check out Ecuador. Same time zone and it's on the US dollar, so you don't have to change money, and the prices are very reasonable. Beautiful country, amazing hummingbirds, great restaurants, hotels, we had a lovely time. Worst case you come back with some Ecuadorian change.

Don't say I don't share hot tips with you!


Christina Dodd said...

Thank you, Isabelle! I do love my HqP -- there are white covers scattered all over my house and I have a couple of book shelves dedicated to my favs. Heather MacAllister, who knows my reading habits, is the one who told me about, and I thank her for that.

And thanks for the thumbs up on TONGUE IN CHIC! The Guiding Light scene was a lot of fun to write altho I had to make up what would happen next...

Isabel Swift said...

I adored Tongue in Chic--the plane ride went by in an instant! Isn't that what is so great about a great story? Squeaking children, little space, who cares!

And Dangerous Men, Adventurous Women has some great insights into why we love those white books and Alpha men. If I may quote from Robyn Donald's essay: "The strong, domineering hero of the romance novel has long been the subject of criticism. What critics don't realize is that it is the hero's task in the book to present a suitable challenge to the heroine. His strength is a measure of her power. For it is she who conquors him." So satisfying....

Alison Hart said...

Another super book like DMAW is North American Romance Writers--Scarecrow Press--edited by Kay Mussell and Joanna Tunon of American University. The book is a series of essays about the genre and its appeal--the fantasies, the values, the cultural reflections on where women are & what they need. Isabel, if you haven't come across this, think you'd love it.
And Christina, love your Tongue in Chic. Of course, I love all your books. :) Alison alias "Jennifer Greene"

Isabel Swift said...

Alison: thanks for the tip--will check it out (despite my teetering TBR pile). I really enjoyed re-reading DMAW & it got me back into that 'how does this work?' frame of mind. Haven't heard of this. A recommendation from you is something to be listened to!

Alison Hart said...

My TBR is threatening to reach the ceiling, too. :) So many great books, never enough time. !
But on North American Romance Writers, would guess you'll actually know 90% of the authors who contributed--Alison

Laura Vivanco said...

'Taking notes for my meeting I'm thinking about essays of my own I'd like to write

Isabel, have you thought of contributing to The Mind of Love: New Approaches to Popular Romance? It's a volume that Sarah Frantz and Eric Selinger will be editing and there's a call for papers out, details here.

As for reading, if you're looking for non-fiction on romance, Pamela Regis' book is good and quite easy to get hold of. I had a bit more trouble getting hold of Juliet Flesch's (which is about Australian romance writers) and jay Dixon's about Mills & Boon 1909-1990s, but both are very good. You probably already know about this, but we've got a bibliography of academic books and articles about romance here.

Isabel Swift said...

Laura: thanks so much for the tip! I LOVE the Teach Me Tonight Blog. I'd met Pam Regis while she was still putting together A Natural History of the Romance Novel at the Washington Romance Writer's Retreat MANY years ago, & am a longtime fan, so already have a well-thumbed copy of that. Think I've read Jay's as well, but don't have my own copy. I have started noting things in my electronic brain (aka PDA) to keep track! Thanks also for the tip on the bibliography.