readingRomance reading is such a big part of my life for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the influence of my family members on my choice of reading material. I grew up in a household in which books were always a part. We always had multiple bookshelves crammed to overflowing, books in boxes, books in bags, and hidden under the beds. There was a variety of tomes, with a healthy selection of romance. Georgette Heyer and Mary Stewart existed peaceably alongside Dickens and Frank Slaughter.

My grandfather, as was common in that day, quit school in the third grade to go to work in the coal mines to help support his family. He was a highly intelligent man who, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to receive much formal education. He compensated for this by reading constantly. His favorites? Westerns and Harlequins. He adored his “love stories” and kept a stack knee deep around the perimeter of the rooms in his house. It was such a fun occasion to visit, with he and my mother swapping books, reading descriptions and discussing the merits of each.

My mother and my aunts share the love of romance as well. We love to get together to trade books and a trip to the bookstore is almost always a family affair. At one of our book swapping occasions, my aunt, who is well into her seventies, picked up a book and announced, “Heather, this is absolutely the raunchiest book I have ever read in my life!” I thought to myself, “Well she will certainly never take any more recommendations from me.” Surprisingly, she straightened, smiled, and said, “But I liked it!”

For us, romance is not just a way to pass the time. It’s a way that we bond, something that brings us together over our shared love of love. When we phone one another, inevitably after the how-are-yous, the topic will turn to “what are you reading?” And then, “You must try this book.” Fortunately we share the same reading tastes for the most part, so we hardly ever go wrong with our recommendations to one another.

I think there is something about love and its power of redemption that appeals across generations. Do you have a loved one who has influenced your reading tastes? Or a tradition of exchanging books within your family? And who wants to come to the Stanton residence for Sunday dinner, a book trade, and a trip to the bookstore?

– Heather S. AAR

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