Why I’m No Longer Reading Romance Novels (…and I Got My Nose Pierced)

brunette woman reading, her back to camera, facing a body of water

So far, I’ve read 23 books this year–and this isn’t a flex. At this point last year, I was much further along in my reading goal and I attribute that a lot to romance novels.

A good romance is like a dessert–sweet, sometimes with different textures, but all in all pretty one-note. You always know it’s a dessert, right? The thing about other foods is that you can experiment with taste: sweet vs sour, spicy, savory. You get a much different feeling from a steak dinner than a brownie sundae. I know which I’d prefer.

When I’m reading romance, it feels a lot like scarfing down a dessert. It’s tasty, but it doesn’t fill me up. Sometimes, I even feel a bit of that after-dessert sadness that it’s gone or that I ate too much too fast. Last year, I read a lot of books like this. Romances are easy and they read like this–there’s always a third act breakup, there’s always a character that’s in the way of the love story. The books read quick, but I’m not sure that they really *do* anything for me, if you catch my drift.

I recently finished Yours Truly, by one of my favorite romance authors–and probably the only romance author I’ll continue to read. While I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it (as a rom-com), it reminded me of why I’ve made this decision to cut out desserts this year (so to speak).

Out of the 23 books I’ve read so far this year, only four of those books have been romance novels. Instead, I’ve been focusing on horror–a genre I’ve recently fallen into and have found a foothold in. While romance has become familiar and comfortable to me, it also has this level of sadness attached to it that I just can’t seem to let go of.

woman with nose piercing

I’ve noticed for the last few years that books (and certain movies) make me feel this way. I become entirely too attached to a couple, and then when the storyline is over, it feels impossible to move on. It makes me overanalyze my own life, wondering why I can’t find a love story of my own like Bella and Edward’s (Twilight), Christian and Ana’s (Fifty Shades), or Brianna and Jacob’s (Yours Truly).

It’s not that I don’t think that these love stories don’t exist–to some degree, I think they do. I see it in the couples around me. I see it in my friend, Mary, and her husband, who fills up her car’s gas tank for her (she reminds me often that I need to find a guy like this). Or, my friend Chris, who tells me that I need to find a man who enjoys washing the dishes and that’s how I’ll know I’ve found the one. I see it in my parents, who never travel, even across town, without each other and their dog, and in my grandparents, who never left each other’s side until the very last moment.

Beautiful romances do exist and are realistic. I 100% believe in this.

But, maybe it’s not my time. I can’t tell you how much it irks me to write this, but it’s true.

While romances are real and they do happen in real life, I also don’t feel like I need to torture myself by reading about all of the relationships I’m not having with men right now. Instead, I’m focusing on the friendships that I do have and the growth that has incurred since I’ve left my last relationship. Which, admittedly, was pretty toxic.

One thing I HAVE learned from all the romance novels I’ve read? Meet-cutes happen when the characters are least expecting it. It happens when there is a cute new UPS driver delivering packages to the librarian, or when the girl starts stopping at the same bagel place every Saturday and so does someone else–at the same time. And you know what? Every time a meet-cute happens, the characters aren’t sitting there, waiting for their Prince Charming, or their Cinderella (so to speak). They’re out living their life, working on themselves, letting shit happen.

So, that’s what I’ve decided to do. This week, I got my nose pierced. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but never had the guts to. I went by myself, found a reputable tattoo shop, and got it done. And you know what? It didn’t even it hurt. It was so freaking empowering.

I’m reading books that I enjoy that aren’t romance based. I’m focusing on horror right now, and I’m loving a lot of books with eerie, *chills up your spine* vibes and I am finding SO many new authors that I never would have tried if I had kept reading romance (seriously, read my review on Sister, Maiden, Monster).

Plus, I’m growing my community. I’m finding friends like @sarahsbookstacks, who hardcore enjoys romance novels and is going through a pretty similar experience with books right now. I’m sharing my blunders with my friends (who also turn out to my coworkers), who are getting a kick out of my life experiences, and seem to be really enjoying my latest book recommendations.

AND, my mom called me a pirate this week. Because apparently getting your nose pierced will do that to you. So, ARGH. Whatever floats your boat, man. Here’s to living my life and letting it happen.

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