"Romance" Novels

Hi my friends,
I need some help here. I am an avid reader. It is my one activity that gives me the most pleasure. I read extremely quick. I have fallen into reading grocery store novels, mostly historical romance novels.

My husband has asked me not to read these any longer. He believes that it is sinning and I tend to agree with him. Reading about other’s romantic liasons can’t be good for nourishing my soul.

I can read through one of these in a day’s time. It is my means of escape and entertainment.

I need some suggestions for other books that I could read instead. I’ve read many of the classics and a lot of theology books, etc. I just seem to consume them so fast…

Please offer suggestions!! Maybe series that isn’t romance. I don’t really care about murder/mystery books, but I do like fantasy books. I tried Janet Evanovich, but there seems to be so much swearing in them. I know… romance is ok, but swearing isn’t? Go figure…:shrug:


What kind of historical romance? Some are classified as “erotica” and yes, those might be a danger to the soul IF they spark lust or other illicit thoughts into you. Not all romances are explicit in nature; check around for some. Star of the Morning by Lynn Kurland is pretty tame. It’s fantasy/supernatural romance. The writing is decent and the plot moves okay. :slight_smile: Harlequin also has their Steeple Hill line, but it’s very Fundamentalist and rather anti-Catholic.

Too bad you don’t care for mystery; Sherlock Holmes is tops. :wink:

I don’t think there’s a problem with romance novels unless they have pornographic content.

Unless you’re reading erotic books, your husband is being unreasonable. There is nothing wrong with reading about love and relationships.

I agree with this. The soft porn romances are not really good for the soul, but the pure romances are fine. Your husband needs to learn that women have a very real hunger for a lot of romance, and even if he buys you flowers once a week and covers the red satin sheets on your bed with hand-plucked rose petals, it’s not enough!

You might want to visit a Protestant book store, where you will find many aisles of shelves filled with Christian romances. NO sex (not even between married couples! :D). And decent plots, many with a historical tie-in. I personally don’t think the writing quality is good in some of these Christian romance novels, but that’s just my opinion. They are very good sellers.

If you do decide to give up all romance novels, then perhaps you could do biographies. These are about people (like romance novels) and are historical.

I personally like children’s and teen’s novels. Have you ever read Roar of Thunder, Hear My Cry and the other books in this same trilogy by Mildred Taylor? Awesome books, based on history. And of course, there’s the Little House series and all the spinoffs, and the Anne of Green Gables series. There are so many wonderful novels in the teen and kids sections at the library, and they usually don’t take long to read.

Another thing you could try is going back to the classics. Pick an author, e.g., Charles Dickens or Louisa May Alcott or Alexander Dumas or Mark Twain, and read everything that they ever wrote.

You could try Science Fiction–Ray Bradbury is very appealing to females as well as male readers. His stories are more about people than space ships and stuff. Start with Dandelion Wine or The Martian Chronicles.

I love to engage myself in Christian Romance novels! Try Deeanne Gist, Janette Oak, or Linda Nicols! Great writers and clean content. Also, you could subscribe to Heartsong Presents: A Christian Book Club.

God Bless!

Try reading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The later ought to last you a few days, and while they are fantasy, both are considered classics. Don’t tell me you’ve read all of the Church Fathers, even the lesser known ones? Summa Theologica? Also, as an above reader suggested, try Sherlock Holmes mysteries and perhaps Agatha Christie. Not all romances are going to be illicit, either. Some are considered classics, others not so… Christie also wrote several romances under a pseudonym as well.

I agree that the romance genre, in and of itself, is not sinful. Pornographic content, on the other hand, always is- and unfortunately some “romance novels” are just a nice euphemism for “porn for women.”

Some women may also be tempted to discontentment with their spouse/marital relationship when they read a lot of this sort of book. I have heard about this before, though it hasn’t been a problem for me personally. If it is for you, it’s a genre best avoided, obviously. There is a reason many romance novels end once a commitment has been reached- a proposal, a marriage, whatever. They do not go into the mundane little trials of everyday married life, because that would take the “shine” off the most romantic and idealized hero and heroine :wink:

I recently read a Christian (not Catholic but not anti-Catholic, either) romance by Julia Klassen, “Lady of Milkweed Manor.” It is clean, Christian without being “preachy” or saturated with KJV verses, historically interesting, and the characters are very compelling, not cardboard cut-outs. She has written another book as well and though I have not read it yet, it’s on my list. :slight_smile:

BUt her husband asked her not to read the books. It doesn’t sound like he’s being controlling or a jerk or anything, he simply asked her not to read them. So, out of respect for him, she’s not going to read them anymore. It’s not like he asked her to never see her best friend again.

I agree that some romances definitely aren’t good for your soul. Some also leave you wishing you had what the people in the novel have, which also isn’t good even if it’s not a type of porn.

Too bad you didn’t like Janet Evanovich, I was going to suggest that since there is a touch of romance in those, but nothing racy or anything. There’s another series I like called Reigning Cats and Dogs Mysteries, by Cynthia Baxter. They’re not like some mysteries, I enjoy them. They’re kind of similar to the Stephanie Plum novels, but there’s no swearing at all, and less romance detail. Rather quick reads though, I also can go through a book in a day.

Geez, wish I could remember more books here! I read so many as well that I tend to forget all the ones I’ve read…

That reminds me, to the OP: I was assuming that your husband was taking issue with the kind of “romances” usually found in the grocery stores, which can be, uh, kind of trashy. You might ask him if he objects to the “clean” or Christian romances, if you are still interested in this genre. I was making assumptions that those would not be an issue, my apologies. :o

What if her husband asked her not to step on cracks between tiles, or to always eat with a spoon instead of a fork, or to never paint or play music, to never go swimming or running?

If the books she is reading are not pornographic, and are her favorite books, in my opinion it’s pretty ridiculous of him to ask her not to read them. It would be like her asking him to never play or watch his favorite sport on TV, or to never engage in a favorite hobby.

There are reasonable requests (like please don’t read erotica), and ridiculous requests (like stop reading your favorite books even when there is nothing morally wrong with them). And it’s disrespectful and uncharitable of him to make such requests.

Exactly. I wonder if her husband read her books and then decided they were ‘taboo’. The OP didn’t say… In any event, it’s weird for a husband to say ‘I don’t want you reading these books’… my husband would not do this. And I wouldn’t do it to him, either… unless of course, it was the Sports Illustrated Feb. issue, which I never even like in my house … and it goes directly into the trash… but he knows what I’m doing and he’s okay with that…

Check out your public library and ask if you have a Parish library - our little parish has over 1,000 books available to check out.

Wonderful suggestions everyone! Keep them coming pretty please!!

Just to clarify-- yup. I am guilty of reading the less-than-clean “romance” novels of the grocery store type. There have been some that have been wonderful with no erotica in them. However, the books my hubby asked me not to read are exactly the ones that DO have erotica in them… so I truly believe he is within his rights to ask me not to read THOSE kinds.

Tolkein has been read several times by me. I loved them! Dandelion Wine was awesome too. Although most of the other Bradbury novels I have read aren’t as great.

I really like the idea of picking an author and reading everything they’ve written. Maybe I’ll start with Jane Austen. :smiley:

I can truthfully say that the only book I have picked up and NOT finished was “Grapes of Wrath”. I couldn’t get past the turtle in the road in the very beginning.

Thanks guys! Keep the suggestions coming.


A friend refers to romance novels as “housewife porn.” Some of those novels can be extremely racy. I applaud you for listening to your husband’s concerns, recognizing the problem and agreeing to stop reading them.

If you like Tolkien, try George MacDonald. Both Tolkien and C.S. Lewis reportedly enjoyed and were strongly influenced by his fantansy/fairy tale stories and novels. Lewis was quoted on the back of the MacDonald book I just finished, “What George MacDonald does best is fantasy–fantasy that hovers between the allegorical and the mythopoeic. And this, in my opinion, he does better than any man.” Jane Austen’s a great choice too. Working your way through one author you enjoy is great idea! I do that from time to time and it makes finding a book I enjoy easier.

You wrote you read theology books and got through them quickly. Have you tried St. Teresa of Avila, St. Francis de Sales and other doctors of the Church? I’m a very fast reader too, but writings by the Saints have significant depth that require me to read slower. Even if I could read it quickly, I often want to slow down to reflect on and more fully absorb what I just read.

I often have a couple of books going at once. Usually a story book, a theology book, and an information book (about some other topic that interests me.) Rather than diving completely into a book that you finish in a day, try juggling several books with various subject matter so that books last longer. :juggle:

Okay, here some more ideas, perhaps you’ve read most or all of these, but just some ideas…

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
The Color Purple - Alice Walker
Uncle Tom’s Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Charlotte’s Web - EB White
Watership Down - Richard Adams (a book about rabbits, the rabbits are the characters, my all time favorite book)

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No it’s not weird. The books I think OP were talking about are what one friend’s mom calls “nightgown novels”–menaing the heroine is usually wearing a nightgown like garmet and the hero is barechested on the front cover. My husband has also said he prefers me not to read them and I agree. I think it is exactly like the Sports illustrated Swimsuit edition! :rolleyes:

Another reason to not read them is that it doesn’t give a very good model to your children especially pre-teen and teen girls who may be tempted to pick up the books behind mom.

I agree with Cat that many of the classics that we think of as children’s or teens books now are actually really, really good books written originally for adult audiences. I love the idea of picking an author and reading through several of their books. You could also check the book lists and suggestions at your public library or search on the web for books by genre, author, etc. The book lists at Amazon often have good suggestions.

Finally, I want to recoomend Georgette Heyer as an author who wrote both mysteries and what we now call “regency romances”, but her books are not at all sexy. The plots and storylines are very well-researched and histrocically accurate. I also really like Patrick O’brian’s boks which your husband may also enjoy!

For fantasy I just discovered the Inkheart books and fell in love. They are books for book lovers. :smiley:

For just sweet fun books, some of the old kids books are good, Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, and all the rest of those series.

Jane Austen is a good start. Pride and Prejudice is a favorite of virtually every woman I know (there are various TV adaptations of it as well)!

Hard to recommend books without knowing your tastes. But, you could always read all the classics. You could look at the reading list for a Literature course and read those books.

You could read the grocery store romances too but simply skip the erotica sections, presumably your husband would be okay with that?

Here are some lists:

theromancereader.com/top100.html Romance lists (you can always read the reviews to see if they are ‘clean’)

butlerbunchorlando.blogspot.com/2009/02/list-of-classic-literature.html Classics

home.austarnet.com.au/petersykes/fantasy100/lists_books.html Fantasy books

home.austarnet.com.au/petersykes/topscifi/lists_books_rank1.html Science Fiction books

I have had this problem a lot myself – I would always read fantasy and sci-fi novels that ended up being unnecessarily trashy. :stuck_out_tongue:

What I did first, to be safe (reading smut is a hard habit to break, and it was almost impossible for me to put a book down when I found a bad scene) is to go to a library or bookstore and stick to the “young adult” and “classics” sections – you will hardly find anything objectionable in them.

I am sure you will like Jane Austen. Also, try Redeeming Love, I can’t remember the author, but it’s a Christian romance that I found very gripping – even though usually that kind of thing is too preachy to interest me.

If you like short, light books, Agatha Christie is good, and she always has touches of romance in there, in a way I really like – it’s not 100% mystery all the time.

Chesterton’s novels are good, and they will make you think a bit (the endings are a little strange so you have to read them a couple times): The Napoleon of Notting Hill, The Man Who Was Thursday, The Ball and the Cross, Manalive, etc.

One fantasy series that has no smut is the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan … very intriguing and keeps you interested in one 1,000-page book after another (I think there are ten).

Oh, and the Betsy-Tacy books, by Maud Hart Lovelace, are excellent. The first few are for younger girls, but the last five or six are full of healthy romance and the story of these girls’ lives near the turn of the century.

It’s a wonderful thing that you’re trying to break this habit. Remember to get rid of all the trash you have now, so that you’re not tempted to re-read them (though, I doubt they’d be any good on a second read anyway – so poorly written!).

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