Do you read Romance novels? Romantic suspense? Young Adult romance? Paranormal Romance? Or any of the other zillion sub genres that roll up into the Romance category?
Romance is one of the only categories that continues to grow, even with a slow economy and the much heralded decline of books. According to Business of Consumer Book Publishing 2009 (the latest full year for which data was available), romance novels generated 1.37 Billion dollars in sales—more than any other kind of book.
In light of everything going on around the world and even in our own country, it's hard to argue that Romance is "meaningful." Although, one could definitely argue that the world would be a much better place if there were more happily-ever-afters and less hateful political invective.
When I started my first manuscript, I was young. I wanted to sound super-intelligent and ultra-meaningful and crammed as many "fifty cent words" as possible onto each page. There's nothing wrong with using big words, but they shouldn't be the point of a book. There needs to be a story. A plot. A reason to read all the way to the end.
I like happy endings. I like it when the protagonist not only learns and grows as a character, but finds her happily-ever-after in the end, whether it's the one she thought she wanted or something completely different. The HEA is what defines the romance category. It's not so much about the s-e-x as it is about the conflict and character growth. And the happy ending.
That's why I like to read romance - in my own real life, I can't solve my problems in 300-500 pages (or make out with hot vampires.) At least with a novel, I can vicariously live through much bigger traumas than my son's basketball loss and have them neatly resolved by bedtime.
Is it relevant to my life? I guess that depends on how you define relevant. Books help me to both escape from the everyday and to put my own life into a kind of perspective. They also allow me to explore places and experiences I might not be able to in "real" life. The world of books helps broaden my reality.
What do you like to read?