Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Zelda, Vicars, and Dirty Books (Romance Novels you SHOULD read)

I know I'm a little bit late discussing the 50 Shades of Grey hoopla, but I wanted to put my two cents' worth in.

Do not read this book.


I'm not writing this because I'm a book snob. I will never tell you to read only the most respectable or literary of novels. I have spent copious amounts of time in the past few years reading books about fairies and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My mind adores good, easy guilty entertainment.

I'm not a prude, either. You want to read a book that gets your engines roarin', have at it. I was reading Danielle Steele novels when I was in middle school and am no stranger to stories involving someone's "throbbing member." Get your kicks wherever. No judgment here.

Reminds me of one of my all-time favorite Friends moments: (clip below and full scene here - they wouldn't let me embed it. I am just giggling watching this.)

As Rachel says, "There's nothing wrong with a woman enjoying a little erotica. It's just a healthy expression of female sexuality..."
But really (in Joey voice): "YOU'VE GOT PORN!" 

My friend Boeskool did write a great blog post titled "50 Shades of Skank" about how disgusted he was from the sheer amount of women talking about either 50 Shades or Magic Mike... I can't help with agree with his argument "Sure, men objectify women all the time, and women want to be equal... but 'why would you want to emulate the worst part of a man?'" He had a good point. But that isn't why I'm writing this either.

So why am I so adamant that you put the book down?

Because 50 Shades of Grey is complete crap, and there are soooo many better books that you could be reading right now.

Let me teach you a little lesson about fan fiction. Fanfiction is kinda like Fight Club - (most) everyone knows about it; no one talks about it.

But now that E.L. James has outed it, let's talk about it.

FanFiction is exactly that: fiction written by fans. is the most popular site for this, but you can google "Twilight fanfic" and get a billion other sites or sources as well. These have been around forever, and basically are opensource websites and the like that allow any users to try their hand at writing stories. Sometimes legit authors get on there to fill in gaps between books or chapters, or perhaps to offer an alternative ending, but most of the time, these stories are written by your average Joe writers. Some are excellent writers, and some are just God-awful, but most fall in the mediocre range. Anyway - the stories have endless possibilities: you can write extensions of stories, rewrite parts of a book, make a character have a third eyeball that sees through people's clothes. Seriously - whatever. I'm not saying a bad thing about fanficiton here. I've read it. Most of you will go on and read some. It's imaginative and fun to read, especially when you (nerd alert) know characters so well that you enjoy reading about them in different situations and reading beyond the original text. Again - whatever. To each his own. (This isn't limited to books, by the way. Everything from TV shows to movies to musicians to news anchors have been covered... )

So 50 Shades of Grey began as a fanfic of Twilight, in which Bella and Edward were re-imagined outside of the world of Forks, Washington, and, instead, as regular humans with similar traits of the original characters (Edward being dominant, wealthy, and handsome; Bella being clumsy, passive, and annoying). She also, obviously, ramped up the sexytimes. Took that PG-13 rating right up to XXX, something else popular in the fanfic world.

With that being said - remember how I talked about mediocre fanfic? That's all this is! Three full books of mediocre writing on what was already a tired plot. You can look in my blog's history and know that I enjoyed the Twilight books, something I'm loathe to admit now that they've blown up and garnered their following. The book is just not good, yall. And yes - I read them. Mainly from curiosity. And I read all three (just because writing is bad and plot is boring/annoying does not mean that a cliffhanger is still not gonna kill me). But now I'm left with the shame of knowing I wasted all of that time reading something crappy, when I could have been working on my "American Modern Classics" reading list for 2012.

So with that being said - here are some really awesome romantical-type books I highly recommend you pick up instead of 50 Shades of Grey. We're talking good ole romance novels (though some, I guess, are more of the "chick lit" genre.) Regardless, these are all books I've either read myself or that have been so recommended to me, that I can't not mention them. Plus some are way old - gonna have to hit up the used bookstores or libraries, yall. Regardless - get your kicks here. You won't regret them.

Marian Keyes is one of my favorite chick lit writers. She's Irish and hilarious, and most of her books center on the Walsh sisters and their antics (and love interests). Rachel's Holiday centers around Rachel, who has agreed to go to a rehab facility only because she thinks she is going to be pampered and surrounded by the UK's rich and famous. This is not the case. Hilarity and romance ensue. Her other books are great, too.

Cannie thinks that her life is good and well and happy. Until she opens up a women's magazine and sees a column titled "Good in Bed" with the headline "Loving a Larger Woman," written by her ex. Encouraged by the public humiliation, (after going on a much-anticipated and hilarious whirlwind of shame), she re-examines her life, her relationships, and a whole lot else, and does it all while being quite funny and very feisty. Plus she eventually finds a good man who loves her regardless of her size and issues. This one is more serious (I remember crying quite a bit), and can hit close to home when dealing with insecurities... but it's a good one.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Redeeming Love is every good Christian girl's go-to read for romance. It's sold a bunch of copies and stayed on best-seller lists (in Christian fiction) since it was first published in the early 90s. A retelling of the Biblical story of Hosea (re-imagined during the 1850s Gold Rush), Angel is a prostitute who was told from a young age that she was only worth one thing to a man. Until Michael Hosea comes along and proves her wrong. This one is chaste and sweet and sooooo swoon-worthy. Did I just say that? Seriously, though. I reread it often. It's all about how love can change everything. (And how God's love can be mirrored in Mankind.)

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
This one is a classic. Published in 1938 and considered a classic. The story is told from the viewpoint of the never-named "second Mrs. DeWinter" as she takes her place at Manderlay (the DeWinter estate) and learns to be a wife and inhabinant in the first Mrs. DeWinter's (Rebecca's) wake. Suspenseful and full of romance and dark thriller-type stuff and mystery... I just loved this book.

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
I have not read The Thorn Birds, much to the dismay of almost every single literary (female) friend I have. And there are a lot of them. Published in 1977 and later made into a TV miniseries, Amazon tells me this is a "magnificent saga of dreams, struggles, dark passions, and forbidden love in the Australian outback has enthralled readers the world over." From the way my friends just look at me in outrage when I say I haven't read it, I'm prone to believe it. It's on my nightstand as my next read as I speak. 

The Gift by Danielle Steele
Picture me in 6th grade, hanging out with my buddies, and we're all sneakily passing around romance novels like they're liquor bottles (we wouldn't do that until a few years later). The Gift was the first one I ever got my hands on. I had no idea what romance was all about at the age of 13, but I sure did think this was an epic love story  (and I did reread it later to affirm this). Set in 1950, the story centers on a family who loses a child, and a woman who comes to town and enters into their lives. I won't tell you more because it's kinda hard not to give away the plot, but trust me - it's a good'n.

Outlander Series by Diane Gaboldon
This is another series I have yet to read, but I will never forget the day that Diane Gaboldon came to Davis-Kidd bookstore to sign the latest in the series. Women came in DROVES and just positively were fanning themselves talking about the characters. The first book, Outlander, is described as a "time-travel romance." Apparently there are quite the sexy Scottish warriors. I have no qualms here.

Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts is known for writing more mystery/romance-types, and this is my favorite of hers. Set in Small Town, South Carolina, Tory has returned home to a town full of mysteries and betrayals, all of which hit close to home. She finds comfort in the brother of her best friend, who was murdered, and they seek to find her killer. Good stuff, yall. My googling tells me a movie was made, and I'm sure it was pure Lifetime Gold.

What others have you read that you recommend? With the pure amount of crap out there, a girl needs some guidance...

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