90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
The Big Business of Bodice Rippers

The best-selling literary genre in the world: romance novels. We’ll look at the red-hot literature of love.

A collection of romance novels on display. (Courtesy RoniLoren / Flickr)

A collection of romance novels on display. (Courtesy RoniLoren / Flickr)

Once you could tell what people were reading by the cover of their book.  Now, so much is on Kindle and its cousins that you don’t know.  But we’ll tell you.  By raw numbers, the odds are they’re reading romance novels.  “Scoundrel’s Captive.”  “Temptation Ridge.”  “My Fair Viking.”  “Montana Bride.”  Romance novels – what we once called “bodice rippers” – are a $1.4 billion market.  That’s twice the size of “inspirational”.  A billion more than “literary” fiction.  What’s in it?  Well, a lot of sex.  And emotion.  And figuring out gender roles.  This hour On Point:  reading romance, and where the steam is now.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Wendy Crutcher, librarian at the Orange Country Public Library (CA). Romance Writers of America “Librarian of the Year” in 2011. Blogger at “The Misadventures of Super Librarian.” (@superwendy)

Angela Knight, New York Times-bestselling romance and erotic author. (@AngelaKnight)

Jesse Barron, editor at Harper’s Magazine. His piece in the latest issue, “Bad Romance,” [Paywall] details his trip to the first annual Romance Novel Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.

From Tom’s Reading List

NPR: Romance Novels Sweep Readers Off Their Feet With Predictability — “One thing that you have understand if you’re gonna get into writing romance is that the things that are valued in that genre are not the same things that are valued when we read something like literary fiction. So you’re gonna want to hone your prose until its extremely clear, it’s very, very fast, the dialogue is funny and the plots are really engaging.”

Huffington Post: The Real Men Who Read Romance Novels — “Romance novels are often dismissed as guilty pleasures and something to be ashamed of by both men and women. In fact, as a woman, I often notice people are surprised to learn that I, with my two English literature degrees, write romance novels. While guys reading ‘girls books’ confounds our gender expectations and may lead to an extra element of surprise and snark, it seems that attitude often just comes with the genre — no matter who is reading it.”

Bangor Daily News: Romance Writers name Old Town woman Librarian of the Year — “When Romance Writers of America announced that Whitten had received the award, she received congratulations from members via email from all over the United States. She will be the guest of honor at the organization’s conference in July in Atlanta, where she will address several thousand people. ‘I’m passionate about the romance genre, a strong proponent of it,’ Whitten said.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Feb 27, 2015
Federal Communication Commission (FCC) ChairmanTom Wheeler, center, joins hands with FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, left, and Jessica Rosenworcel, before the start of their open hearing in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015.  (AP)

A US-Israel rift. A win for net neutrality. “American Sniper” verdict. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Feb 27, 2015
This image released courtesy of the Lead Belly Estate shows folk and blues musician Huddie William Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly. Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter never had a hit record before he died of Lou Gehrig's disease in 1949. (AP)

Going back to Lead Belly. The blues legend is back. His influences, as big as ever.

RECENT
SHOWS
Feb 26, 2015
Humanist chaplain Bart Campolo, center, a former Evangelical Christian youth minister, and his wife, Marty, right, mingle with students as they wait for the start of a forum at the University of Southern California, Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP)

More Americans are turning away from religion. We’ll look at how to live a moral life without it.

 
Feb 26, 2015
This Feb. 20, 2015 photo shows an arrangement of peanuts in New York. (AP)

New breakthroughs on peanut allergies – treatment and prevention. And a question: are we too clean for our own good? Plus: did giant gerbils from Asia really bring the bubonic plague to Europe?

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: February 27, 2015
Friday, Feb 27, 2015

We won’t lead you into a debate on the color of #TheDress (it’s blue and black, end of debate), but we do wonder about the blurring lines between so-called Internet culture and general popular culture. Also, it’s snowing in Boston. Still.

More »
Comment
 
Two Congressmen Weigh In On DHS Funding
Tuesday, Feb 24, 2015

Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland present their views on the ongoing Congressional budget fight over Department of Homeland Security funding. (Spoiler: They do not agree on a resolution of the crisis).

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: February
Friday, Feb 20, 2015

We explain what happened with the old podcast feed this week and last, share some other Oscar categories and reminisce about the golden days of Double Rainbows and Honey Badgers who just don’t care.

More »
Comment