Wowsers. Ever watch someone go through amazing contortions to get out of mentioning something that makes them uncomfortable? I just watched a magazine do it. So amazing. I mean, it was a total fail, but it was amazing to witness.
I should start from the beginning, shouldn’t I? Okay. Yesterday I cracked open the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly, as I do every Friday evening. I actually still receive the print copy, as I have ever since the magazine’s debut back in…what was it…1990? So I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go within its pages, but never an omission as egregious and blatant as the one in this week’s issue.
I love reading as well as writing, obvs, so I always go straight to the Books section at the back. I enjoy EW‘s reviews; they take the time to seek out graphic novels to feature alongside “traditional” books, and I always wish they had room for more than a handful of reviews each week.
This week’s feature story was entitled “Summer Books Preview.” Great! After all, books + beach/pool/park + sun + cold drink = ultimate happiness, right? Even better, right in the deck was the line, “Is your idea of vacation reading frothy romance?” Ooh, yay, I thought—that meant there was a good chance authors I actually know would be featured in the article. How exciting.
So I went straight for the romance category.
…Huh. Must’ve missed it.
I ran through the article again.
Okay…um…women’s fiction? Even though it always seems that “women’s fiction” is more serious, tackling heavier themes than romance or (ssshhh don’t tell the publishing industry we still read this) chick lit/romantic comedy does, sometimes romance gets included in that category.
Nope. No category for women’s fiction. Memoirs, check. Thrillers, check. Horror, sci-fi, even a section for sequels.
Romance, not so much.
So I went to the first section, called “Big Fat Beach Reads.” Gotta be some romance in there, right?
Newp. I found a smattering of women’s fiction and tossed each title into Amazon to check out their categories. Romance? No. They were all categorized as “Literature & Fiction.” In other words, the more serious stuff. (Read the “Big Fat Beach Reads” segment here.)
Where was the fun stuff?
Nowhere to be found.
With thousands upon thousands of romance and chick lit titles to choose from, and more being published every week, EW couldn’t find room to mention some books from one of the biggest genres in literature, ones that are perfect for a day at the beach?
I mean, let’s be honest—if you’re going to hang out in the sun for a few hours, are you going to take a 20 lb., 600-page, uber-serious piece of literature that’ll put you to sleep (or possibly kill you when you nod off and it falls on you), or are you going to pack a paperback that’ll keep you turning the pages and laughing, one that’ll have you daydreaming of a hot summer romance of your own when you lie back and close your eyes for a few minutes?
I know that this ground had been covered before—Jennifer Weiner has been fighting the good fight for ages, trying to get the romance genre some respect. But apparently we’re not making much headway, if a popular entertainment magazine can’t be bothered to talk about romance novels in a summer reading feature. During International Chick Lit Month, no less!
It’s not like it’s hard to find romances to feature. Amazon has more than 1.5 million romance titles listed at the moment. And discussion of the genre is hardly hidden—google “romance blogs” and you’ll get more than 48 million hits.
We love to read romance, we love to talk about romance, and we certainly love to share our finds with one another. You’d think Entertainment Weekly wouldn’t waste its energy, twisting itself into a pretzel to avoid talking about a genre that’s immensely popular—so much so that it manages not to mention quintessential beach reads in an article about beach reads.
That is one hell of an accomplishment. Of course, all will be forgiven if, next week perhaps, the feature story in the Books section is devoted solely to romances, maybe even a spotlight on chick lit/romantic comedies—whatever you want to call them. But I won’t hold my breath. In the meantime, stay fusty, EW. Stay fusty.