I never read romance novel. I keep away from that genre, for the same reasons I keep away from science fiction or even adventure. I tried Harry Potter many times and would never read Hunger Games.
But even at the Baccalauréat level, we are supposed to read and analyze a romance novel, what they call "eau de rose", rose novels.
I remember, as a teenager, my mother once took me back to the bookshop to return a romance novel I had elected by free will, thrilled by its cover, for another book of literary merit. Even though I had picked it innocently, I got a lecture about the negatives of romance trash, a lecture I have memorized in the event my own daughter makes the same error.
Romance novels aren't bad per se. I have a cousin who reads them avidely. Yet, like my mother, i believe it takes you away from the real thing, the real literature. There are too many good books out there to settle for the less than good, not to say mediocre.
When my friend purchased the trendy book Fifty Shades of Gray, the one that makes all the talk shows in the USA I agreed to join her and my sister in a virtual book club.
Ironically, the best thing I can say about this book is that it reminds me thematically of Ayn Rand, incidently my mom's'favorite writer. Indeed, Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are a fine line between literature and "romance books". It is not that I find, or the other millions of readers who have made it a NYT Bestseller, something lacking, to FiftyShadesofGray. I criticize it for what it has: too many repetitions of gestures and descriptives, that litter the narrative with senseless cliche leitmotives.
I will be harsh in categorizing Fifty Shades of Gray as sub-literature, the genre I studied for my baccalauréat. As an aspiring writer, it is good for me to discover the "sellable" formulas. It was a great encouragement for me to recognize that my writing, in comparison, isn't so bad.