“…If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy we seek after these things.”
The whole 13th Article of Faith is, in my opinion, a great motto for how to live a happy life. I am a librarian. I have the unique opportunity to help people find books that in some way entertain and inspire. I hear a lot of feedback about authors, writing styles, story plots, and characters. I also see a lot of trends in the world of reading. It is regarding one of these trends that I would like to focus today’s post.
Not Jane Austen romance novels; they're just fine. We're talking the mass-market produced novels with someone who looks like Fabio on the cover and explicit sex scenes as the primary content. Those ones.
Yes, we are going there.
I see women check out romance novel after romance novel like there is no tomorrow. I believe these books are a much more serious form of pornography than people realize.
Before you think, “Who is this blogger, and who gave her the right to say something so presumptuous?” Hear me out. I have heard women talk about these novels as their escape. That they love reading about the characters and questionable sections of the novels because it is so far from the life they themselves live. It is their guilty pleasure. I have seen these fictional fantasies take over existing relationships. Mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, friends, grandmothers, you name it, individuals who are wasting time in a trashy nowhere land rather than living their own lives. This librarian has seen it all.
Now, all reading is escapism to some extent, and I am in no way advocating against reading. However, a book that creates a world or relationships that make you want to escape so strongly that your current world and relationships are no longer satisfactory is not safe, and the feelings of lust that are produced by such material are not safe either.
Just today, a 17-year-old girl told me about the romance novel she was currently reading. She was genuinely surprised at how racy the book was. If a teenage, nonmember girl can see where to draw the line with these books, I think we can too.
I know that romance novels are not the only form of entertainment that is questionable; however, I think it is important to always ask ourselves, “Is this ‘virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy’?” Then to seek after those things.
Your turn: How do you decide what is and isn’t appropriate to read? Where is the line between an enjoyable story (or movie) that has romance in it and one that is pornographic?
Side note: Deseret Book just released a new brand of book called “A Proper Romance.” This brand new genre promises romance “at its very best—and at its cleanest” that still provides all the feel-good thrills and butterflies of your favorite chick flicks. The first book, Edenbrooke, is a Heyeresque Regency that should please all Jane Austen fans, comes out this Tuesday.
For more information about Edenbrooke and to watch the book trailer, click here.