You have to admit that other than being only 28 days long, February doesn’t have a whole lot going for it. It’s often cold, wet and wearisome. The rush of those hopeful January New Year’s expectations has faded with the realization that this year is going to be pretty much like the last one. Punxsutawney Phil has predicted another six weeks of winter for us to slog through and there are no more Patriots’ games to watch on Sunday afternoons. There is, however, one bright spot in this month of sharp winds and gray skies; it’s February 14, Valentine’s Day.
Valentine’s Day has a long and interesting history. Once a religious feast day honoring Saint Valentinus, martyred during the Roman Empire for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry, today it is a popular celebration of romantic love with heart-shaped cards, colorful flowers and chocolate candies. It’s a day that reminds us of the joy found in loving and being loved, and the power of love to transform and endure.
You don’t, however, have to wait for February 14 every year, to be reminded of love. The library offers you thousands of love stories to brighten your days year round. The romance novel is one of the most popular genres in the library’s collection. Some estimate that more than 70 million Americans read at least one romance novel a year. What’s the attraction? (Pun intended.) There are several. The main plot centers on individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. The heroine is intelligent, good-looking, lives a fulfilling life and gets to be loved for who she is. The hero is ruggedly handsome, darkly mysterious, and struggles with some impediment that prevents him from professing his love until the final pages. There are always obstacles to overcome before the two lovers can unite, and there is typically a Happily Ever After Ending. In other words, romance novels are very emotionally satisfying reads.
The romance novel genre is so large that there are sub-genres – contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, fantasy romance, time-travel romance, inspirational romance and even paranormal romance. You may have suspected this, but some of your favorite literature classics are essentially romance novels, focusing as they do on strong romantic relationships between the central characters – think Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights.
Love is splendid. It is a rich, important element of the human experience, and there’s no reason not to enjoy, and celebrate it through reading all year long.