Tag Archives: romance

What’s in a Beach Read?

beach read book coverI had a discussion with a friend recently about what makes someone associate a movie with a particular season. This started because I said that Catch Me if You Can is a Christmas movie (despite having little to do with Christmas) and Mean Girls is a Halloween movie (despite having a very famous Christmas scene). Sometimes, it’s simply about the ephemeral phenomena we like to call vibes. It’s not really explainable, but you know it when you see it—or, more accurately, feel it. So what makes a beach read, a beach read? Does it even require a beach?  

Since we’re still in summer’s sweaty thrall, it appears a lot of us have beach books on the brain; Book Riot recently posted an article titled “What Makes a Book a Beach Read?” and it got me thinking. Imagine lying on a pineapple blanket in the hot summer sun, the sound of crashing waves sprinkled with the sound of laughter, eating a popsicle and trying to read Anna KareninaThe disconnect is too great. Basically, when you’re stretched out in the sun (or the shade), you don’t want your brain to be doing too much work.  

Before I go on, let me address the elephant in the room. Oftentimes, “beach reads” are synonymous with women’s fictionlight, fluffy, romantic, nothing too strenuous. Of course, this assumption has blatantly sexist roots, assuming that “books by women, about women, are more likely to be considered “light reading.”’ But let’s say that this flavour of “women’s fiction” actually is light reading—is that even a problem? I did just say I don’t want to use my brain. Perhaps women have just unlocked another level of enjoyment with this genre? The tension between “women’s fiction” and “literary fiction”—and that fact that those are considered two different things—is at the core of Emily Henry’s new novel aptly titled Beach ReadThe plot is ripe for rom-com goodness: a struggling writer of women’s fiction moves into the beach house next door to—gasp!her literary rival since college. Of course, the rival is an attractive, successful man. But Emily Henry uses this tropey set-up to explore what makes something a “beach read”; her main characters agree to swap genres (heavy literary fiction for romance) to overcome their respective writers block, and in doing so learn the value of each. Not just a beach-set rom-com, Beach Read—as its blunt title suggests—is a meta exploration of its genre.  

Continue reading

Love and Travel

Photo of Santorini, GreeceFor the last few months, many people, even the most avid readers, have been having trouble picking up a book and getting through more than a few pages before their minds start to wander. My colleague Kasey wrote about this recently and I can certainly relate.

One way that I have been coping with the anxiety of these uncertain times, besides my weekend stress baking, is reading more romance novels. Romance is often considered an escape. It tends to be about regular people living their lives, and you know there will be a happy ending, whether it’s happily ever after or happy for now. There’s something comforting about that, and even the predictability of the story lines can be reassuring – you know what’s likely to happen but you get invested in the characters and you continue the story to its satisfying conclusion. Continue reading

Royal Reading: The Other Windsor Girl by Georgie Blalock

If, like me, you’ve binge-watched all three seasons of The Crown on Netflix, you may be looking for something else to pass the time while you anxiously wait for season four and its promise of Princess Diana and (hopefully) more corgis.  

While The Crown is ostensibly about Queen Elizabeth II’s rise to the throne at the young age of 25 and her immersion into the world of politics, for me the more interesting character is her younger sister, Princess Margaret. Long before the tabloids reported on the comings and goings of Harry and Meghan or William and Kate (not to mention their fashion choices), Princess Margaret was a regular in the gossip columns of the 1950s thanks to her glamorous gowns, socialite friends and high-profile romances 

Book cover of The Other Windsor Girl by Georgie BlalockThe Other Windsor Girl by Georgie Blalock chronicles Princess Margaret’s twentysomething years as seen through the eyes of her second lady-in-waiting, the Honorable Vera Strathmore. Vera is the daughter of a noble who has a title but lacks money. She dreams of moving to New York and becoming a writer, and secretly writes romance novels under a pseudonym. Vera is first introduced to Princess Margaret by her cousin Rupert at the princess’s request after she reads one of Vera’s novels. The two become friends by bonding over their shared loneliness — Vera still mourns her fiancé who was killed in World War II, while Margaret mourns the loss of her sister via her marriage to Prince Philip, fearing she will never find someone to love herself.  

Continue reading