I love reading a good romance novel. I also love reading bad romance novels and everything that comes in between. I read them all. I lay the blame for this love of reading romantic books that have a happy ending on Lucy Maud Montgomery. Her books were my first repeat reads from my local library and I would check them out over and over again. Happy endings are just so reliable and many times I feel comfort in knowing that a book is going to provide me with one. Anne would forgive Gilbert for calling her “Carrots” and he would pardon her ferocious temper. I love a clever ‘meet cute’ and am so pleased when an author takes me by surprise whether it is with boy-meets-girl, girl-meets-girl, boy-meets-boy, as long as there is a cheerful love story at the core. I agree 100% with Lin-Manuel that “love is love is love” so if the author adds a little turmoil into the middle of the book (to keep me guessing) and then everyone sorts things out at the end it is the perfect love story for me.
Our shelves are filled with books that provide this kind of reading pleasure and customers take them out in large number and then share their happiness in reading them at all of our service desks. When someone returns a good romance and shares their enthusiasm over it I will often check to see if I have read it or not. Sometimes I place a hold on that great book and often I make a note so that I can tell someone else about it. It’s always fun to try something new and I like to share a fun customer recommendation with others. Word of mouth reviews are so much better than the ones you read in a publication because they come from real life experience.
I recently read a book that was jam-packed, beginning to end, with an exploration of romance and I was amazed by what I read. It was a book that I couldn’t stop reading. A one afternoon kind of read. You see, I thought that the book was just a traditional memoir written by a high school English teacher. I was thinking of something academic, maybe? Instead it was fascinating and heartbreaking and so very contemporary, truly beautiful. He blends his time as a volunteer in Verona, working as one of Juliet’s secretaries, answering some of the thousands of letters that pour into Verona each year, his own research into what can make or break a romantic relationship, one of the years he spends teaching a class about Romeo and Juliet and the story of his own broken heart. It’s a perfect blend of facts and swoon-worthy details and it really works.
We’ve all read Romeo and Juliet (although I have to say that I prefer the snappier version that Bernstein and Sondheim created in 1957) and many of the lines that they speak have become a part of popular culture but seeing it through the eyes of this 20-year veteran as he teaches made it a whole new thing for me. I did prefer the sections where he was interacting with the kids – the way that they explored the themes of the work and interacted with each other, testing their limits with the teacher and working through language that they found difficult – but the entire book was an easy, pleasurable read.
I was amazed to read that thousands of people write to Juliet and travel to Verona to visit the sites of her tomb, the homes of the Montague and Capulet families and even the spot where Tybalt and Mercutio duel (although that does not quite seem as romantic to me). What a wonderful thing to imagine that families, couples and individuals will make plans to visit these places in honour of a love story that has been re-told for hundreds of years (or longer, depending on the research that you read). Love stories endure because it is a universal theme and although it really didn’t work out for Romeo and Juliet we have hundreds and hundreds of books on the shelves where there are truly happy endings. We have novels, graphic novels and movies where people find their happy ending and we can help you to find one that suits you. Just come on in to the library and ask us.
– – Penny M.