Hi, everyone! It’s been a while (OK, two weeks) since I last linked up with The Broke and the Bookish for their weekly feature, Top Ten Tuesday. So I’m joining that particular party once again!
This week’s theme is “top ten things you like/dislike when it comes to romance in books.” Well, I have soooooooo many thoughts on this subject that I’m going to make two top ten lists, one for what I love and another for what I loathe!
Why don’t I start with the things I’m not so fond of? That way, there’ll be lots of warm fuzzies at the end of this post!
Romantic Tropes I Abhor In Books
I’ve talked about this before, but I hate it so much that I just have to mention it again. I will never, never, never understand the characters who quote unquote fall in love with someone as soon as they meet. What happened to character development, people?! Slowly developing romances are much more satisfying to read!
A lot of other Top Ten Tuesday participants listed this as something they love, but… gah, no. This just isn’t my thing. I think it’s creepy! How is that kind of relationship AT ALL healthy?!
I don’t know. I guess I’m just tired of this idea that if a little boy makes fun of a girl (or pulls her hair, or shoves her) then that must mean he secretly likes her. Um. No. It’s just immature and pathetic and, when the characters are a little older, turns into this weird excuse for abuse.
3. Characters who find their One True Love in their teens
Come on, authors. Why do you do this?! I know a few people do find their significant other during their teens, but what about the other 95% of the population? YA books, especially, portray True Love as something that happens overwhelmingly – only? – in one’s teens. And that’s just unrealistic.
I’d like to read more books that acknowledge that most of us will not find our “someone” in our teens and that more often than not, teen relationships aren’t lasting anyway. And that most of us will date more than one person / have more than one crush, anyway – why are so many characters’ significant other the first person they’ve ever dated?!
4. Couples who claim to be sooooo in love but who don’t actually show it
I’m not interested in grand declarations of love. I’m not interested in long monologues about how a couple’s love can move mountains, create new worlds, blah blah blah. Whenever characters start doing this I’m always like, “Yeah, that’s… nice, but when was the last time you actually did something cute together just for the heck of it?” Don’t TELL me how much you love one another; SHOW me!
(My only exception to this is Caelan from Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant books… because it was intended as a spoof. OMG, how I love to hate him. He’s basically an over-the-top version of Edward Cullen. It’s kind of amazing in a horribly cheesy way.)
You’d think this would be an obvious no-no, but if my bookish experiences are anything to go by… it’s not. What is up with this?! I don’t think it’s weird to ask your crush’s friends a few questions in order to learn more about them (hobbies, interests, et cetera) but the stalking needs to stop! This goes for cyberstalking as well.
6. Falling in love with a hot person because they’re hot
That’s not love. That’s attraction. I think Natalie Dormer is flipping gorgeous and probably the most beautiful woman who ever lived, but I wouldn’t say that I’m in love with her. Because I don’t know her. I love her undercut, and her smirk of a smile makes me feel all melty and gay inside, and I could fangirl about her all day. But when it comes down to it, I don’t know much about her personality – only what she presents to the media. I don’t think a relationship based on hotness – even mutual hotness – will last. Sorry, authors, but you need something a little “deeper.”
(Also, apparently it’s Natalie Dormer’s birthday today? HAPPY BIRTHDAY, YOU RIDICULOUSLY ATTRACTIVE HUMAN BEING, YOU.)
7. Pursuing someone even after they’ve said they’re not interested
Is it just me, or this is predominantly a straight dude thing? It’s not a sign of patience or perseverance and, damn it, it is definitely not a sign of heroic endurance. It’s just creepy. These characters need to get over themselves. Sometimes relationships don’t work out the way you’d like them to and that sucks, but… that’s the way things are.
And it’s REALLY creepy when one character tries to “convince” another character to “accidentally” confess their love for them. If they truly love you, why would you even do this? You shouldn’t need to do anything to “convince” them. Just be yourself.
8. Girls fighting over a boy
This is literally the last thing I want to read about, ever. I mean, honestly – why don’t the girls just stop fighting and date each other instead?
9. Uncommunicative couples
Look, fictional people: You have to talk to the person you’re dating. Like, a lot. (And if you’re not willing/ready to do this, I honestly don’t think you’re ready for a romantic relationship.) I am SO tired of couples who fight and/or have super awkward moments because they don’t just COMMUNICATE about what they want and what they’re thinking!
No one can read minds. (Unless you’re Snape, and who would want to date him? #shotsfired) I’m tired of reading about fictional characters whose dating problems would be solved if only they actually listened and talked to each other.
10. Breaking up and getting back together over and over and over
Ugh. No. This is sooooo boring and tiring to read about. Cue eye-rolling from the Engie. I’ll let T Swizzle take it from here:
“I remember when we broke up the first time
Saying, ‘This is it, I’ve had enough,’ ’cause like
We hadn’t seen each other in a month
When you said you needed space. What?
Then you come around again and say
‘Baby, I miss you and I swear I’m gonna change, trust me.’
Remember how that lasted for a day?
I say, ‘I hate you,’ we break up, you call me, ‘I love you.’
Oh, we called it off again last night
But oh, this time I’m telling you, I’m telling you
We are never ever ever getting back together.”
STOP DOING THIS IT IS THE MOST IRRITATING THING TO READ ABOUT UGHHH.
Romantic Tropes I Adore In Books
1. Slowly developing romances
I don’t want the characters to end up together almost as soon as the book starts! It’s so cute when it takes a while for them to meet, become friends, and fall in love. Insta-Love never
results in feels from me, but slower love stories always always always make me fangirl. Enough said.
Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle is an EXCELLENT example of this! She explores her characters’ platonic relationships in addition to their romantic relationships. I hate, hate, hate reading stories where the character begins dating someone and basically neglects all their friends from before they met that person. No matter how amazing my future girlfriend may be, I am determined to never be this sort of person.
3. Cuteness just for the heck of it
CUTENESS. CUTENESS ALL THE TIME AND FOR NO REAL REASON. I LOVE CUTENESS. I’m not that interested in reading about fictional couples who are only affectionate when they, like, go out on a date or something. BE CUTE ALL THE TIME SO I CAN FANGIRL OVER YOU, PLEASE. I love characters who hold hands and cuddle and kiss each other on the forehead. Oh my gosh, those adorable forehead kisses.
4. Love letters
And emails. And IMs. And text messages. And transcripts of phone conversations. THESE
ARE ALL SO ADORABLE. I love to read about characters who are so in love with each other that they constantly talking to one other in some way, shape, or form. Whether they’re saying, “What’s up, [insert mushy nickname here]?” or “Hey, today I saw something that made me think of you,” I find this endlessly endearing.
5. LGBTQ+ love stories
[Whispers] If I’m being completely honest, there are like three guy/girl couples that I ship even a little bit and all the rest are queer pairings. (Mostly girl/girl couples, yay!) Here are
some of the kinds of LGBTQ+ love stories that I’d love to see, or see more of:
- QUEER LADIES IN GENERAL
- Bisexual guys (seriously, all the guy/guy love stories I’ve ever read featured only gay guys – what’s up with that? I’m looking at you, David Levithan)
- Queer romance in historical fiction
- Mixed-orientation relationships (for example, a bi girl dating a lesbian)
- Bisexual people who fight against the erroneous idea that they’re straight when dating someone of another gender and gay when dating someone of the same gender because THAT IDEA IS SOOOO ANNOYING
- Basically just lots of adorable ladies kissing other adorable ladies yes please
6. Diversity in general
Whenever I read a YA romance that is said to be the Next Big Thing, I always hope that it’s something I haven’t seen before (or seen very often) and not just more of the same.
Straight, white, cisgender girl meets straight, white, cisgender boy? I’ll pass, because I’ve seen that story 3496574855494.5 times before.
This is one of my problems with The Fault in Our Stars, to be honest.
I love reading love stories where the characters are of different races, or religions, or whatever. It’s cool to see how they handle those differences, and how their friends and family react. Habibi by Naomi Shihab Nye and Like No Other by Una LaMarche are particular favorites of mine.
7. Characters who grew up together and spent a long time as friends before falling in love
I love reading love stories where the main character begins to notice, say, their childhood friend, or the girl next door, or whatever. I love how that turns their world upside-down and forces them to reexamine things.
(And for the record, I think this is particularly awesome in same-gender relationships, because that always raises all sorts of Questions About Identity. Like, if the main character spent their childhood believing girls couldn’t love other girls romantically/sexually, and then they fall in love with the best friend that they’ve known for years, that’s really interesting to read about.)
I’ve only read one book that did this – it was YA – and I can’t even tell you the title because I don’t want to spoil the ending to that particular series. Anyway, the author cleverly resolved a love triangle by having the main character decide to date both of her love interests.
And it was super-cute! I was pleased and amused by how that author turned the standard
YA love triangle on its head. It was basically a ginormous “THHHHHBBBPPPPPTTT HA HA SEE IF I CARE ABOUT YOUR TYPICAL YA ENDINGS.”
9. Acknowledging that many people will have multiple crushes and date more
than one person during their lives, even while knowing that they’re not with their Special Someone
Does this make sense? I like books that portray people, especially teens, as being with first this person and then that person and then that other person. Maybe a character has a minor relationship with another person in their story, then they kiss someone else, and then they date some other character. They don’t end up paired off right away. They may not be paired off with anyone at all, even by the end of the story.
My favorite book that does this (and my favorite book of all time, TBH) is Emily M. Danforth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Between the ages of twelve and seventeen, Cam has relationships with and crushes on… six girls and women, I think? Relationships are complicated, people.
10. Lots of laughter
I think this is probably the ultimate test of True Love, whether real or fictional. There are definite times when one needs to be serious, but as for the rest of the time… go ahead and act like a dork! I love fictional couples who have inside jokes, who spend their time being goofy, who can’t go five minutes without laughing about something.
Well, there you have it. I’m sorry this post ran so long – I meant for it to be shorter, but I guess I had a LOT of thoughts about love stories, way more than I thought I did. It’s a genre that I sometimes love and sometimes loathe… if it’s well-written, it makes me squee all the time! But if it’s not, then I immediately throw the book in question at the nearest wall because I have literally no patience for sloppily-written, dull love stories.
And that’s all I have for tonight, so I’ll sign off – but not before telling you that YES I AM GOING TO DO A VALENTINE’S POST. It probably won’t be anything like what you’re expecting, but you’re certainly welcome to guess what I’ve chosen to write about. I am very much looking forward to it.
What things do you like and dislike when it comes to fictional romance? Have any of those things happened to you in real life?!