Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Are the Twilight books making me dumb? (or, The lure of the romance novel)

I consider myself to be a smart, informed, highly educated person. I watch a lot of news. I'm very politically aware. I read newspapers and news magazines. But since reading the Twilight series of books—too many times to admit—I can't get my head around reading any books other than romance novels!!!

The pre-Twilight me read serious non-fiction that taught me something,
generally about history or current events. I used to quietly mock women who read escapist fiction. Now I'm one of them.

In order to not return to Twilight again, I recently followed a friend's recommendation to read a romance-adventure novel called Outlander. As I told Kristina about the Twilight books, which she amazingly hasn't yet read despite having a teenage daughter, she admitted that she was late for work the day before because she couldn't put down Outlander. About the 1991 book by Diana Galbaldon, Kristina, a doctor, explained, "Claire, the main character, is a time traveler who has a husband in the 20th century and in the 18th century. I got to the part where she has to decide which man to stay with and I couldn't
leave for work until I knew."

I just finished reading Outlander, so I now understand. And as happened with Twilight,
I've been sucked into reading the series (which has six titles so far, with another due September 22). One website claims a movie might soon be in the works.* YouTube has videos by fans featuring their fantasy casts. I was glad to see I'm not the only person who imagines Jamie, Claire's hunky Scottish Highlander spouse, as looking like Halle Berry's boyfriend, model Gabriel Aubry, 33, (right).

While I'd still pick Edward Cullen over Jamie Fraser, and Twilight over Outlander (in part because the latter features a lot of battle scene violence and 1740s cruelty), I'm glad to have found a new romantic distraction. I figure the books will hold me over until the New Moon movie opens on November 20, although they may also keep me from the books I should be reading for my Book Group. (Sorry Book Group friends.)

I'm also glad to learn that I'm not alone in my new romance novel obsession. The websites and confirm that fact.

Why I'm suddenly into reading romance, I won't even begin to analyze. Does any of this sound like you?

* A movie does exist called Outlander, complete with some Scottish or Viking warriors, but it's not based on this book.


Miranda said...

ESCAPE is a wonderful thing!

If you like Fantasy, I would also pick up Brandon Sanderson's books.

And another friend just recommended the Georgette Heyer novels which I've never read.

There's probably an inverse correlation between the economy and the reading of romance/fantasy novels!

Whitney Johnson (signed in as my daughter)

Jordan said...

Yes, yes, I need an escape! I can so relate to your Twilight problem. I'll check out this book, and picture Halle Berry's boyfriend if I start reading about Claire and Jamie (to get Bella and Edward out of my head).

mustangsabby said...

Claire and Jamie... I lovelovelove this series. I have read all of them, and cannot WAIT until the next is due out. Diana is also working on a graphic novel, and her Lord John series are fascinating too.

I have yet to read Twilight. I'm afraid to until the excitement dies down. I want to make my own opinion on them.

Anonymous said...

The Outlander series is my absolute favourite of all time!!! I stumbled upon it accidentally & am completely hooked. I'm afraid to try Twilight, because I've always found that I don't enjoy books that are talked up so much in advance...I will have to "accidentally" stumble on Twilight when everyone's forgotten about it. Plus, I hear that there isn't any sex, which I enjoy tremendously in the Outlander books.

Melissa said...

Well, I don't want to give away the Twilight storylines, but, yes, compared to the very steamy Outlander books, Twilight is incredibly chaste. Thanks for visiting.

Anonymous said...

I love romance novels. Today's romance genre is full of smart, funny and independent women falling in love. They make me laugh, they make me think, and there's always a happy ending. Honestly they beat the depressing Oprah's club picks any day of the week. I'm an educated woman that loves her romance! Check out Rachel Gibson (True Confessions) or Jennifer Crusie (Fast Women) to see what I"m talking about. Stephanie

Melissa said...

Stephanie: Thanks for the suggestions. I still have 6 Outlander books to go. And I totally agree with you about the Oprah books. They are horribly depressing and upsetting. I don't need to read about child abuse and violence against women, etc., especially right before going to bed.


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