womanFrequently as romance readers we discuss “conversion kits” – those books we would give a non-romance reader to try to get them to understand the wonderfulness that is our genre of choice. Usually we pick the best of the best because we want to showcase the cream of the crop and prove that we aren’t all (to borrow a line from the movie Elf) “cotton headed ninny muggins.” I’ve recently had some success converting not just a non-romance reader, but a non reader period into an enthusiastic lover of romance.

Kelly and I have worked together since 1999 when our office started with just a small skeleton crew. She had just graduated with an MBA and I had recently received my bachelor’s degree when we began working in the same office. Since we were close in age and two of only a handful of females in a male-dominated office, we became friends quickly. We had tons in common except for one thing: I was a reader and she was not. So when she would talk about aTV show or I would mention a book, we would usually give each other blank looks.

But life has a way of creating ironic situations. When Twilight became wildly popular, she was intrigued. She bought the series on audio and gave it a listen. We began talking about romance and vampires and a growing young adult book market. I gently suggested that maybe she should try a romance audiobook next since she enjoyed those. To my utter surprise, she took my suggestion. And she loved it! The next thing I knew she began acquiring romance audiobooks like mad. She fell in love with the Black Dagger Brotherhood series but at that time only the first three or so books were available in audio. So she shocked me further by buying print versions of those that were unavailable in audio. As her passion grew, so did her collection of print and audiobooks.

Kelly’s love for romance continues to blossom and now we share recommendations and discuss our favorites. It’s been such a fun way for us to bond and her enthusiasm has fueled mine as well. It has been a thrill to experience the genre through the eyes of someone for whom it’s all new and has been extremely rewarding for both of us.

I would love to hear from you. Have you attempted to convert someone in your life into a romance reader? Did you have any luck? If so, how did you go about doing so? What book would you use as a starting point?

– Heather S. AAR

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