Romance novels – the ideal bedtime read

Romance novels – the ideal bedtime read

Romance novels – the ideal bedtime read

Sweet dreams follow a romantic read…

An article published by the Guardian last month caught my eye. Entitled ‘Why we’re falling in love with romance novels all over again’, the article explores the growth in UK romance novel sales during the pandemic: sales of romantic fiction and sagas, we are told, ‘leapt by 49% to nearly 6m’.

The author of the article suggests that the rising popularity of the romance novel is down to the escapism it offers, and of course this makes perfect sense given how hard the last two years have been for us all. A lot of isolation; a lot of time to fill when we’d ordinarily be socialising or travelling; a lot of difficult feelings to contend with and a profound need for release and calm.

A line in the article jumped out at me. Having commented on the decline in horror book sales (‘frankly, in this of all years – who needs more horror?’), the author writes:

We have… needed books to read in bed.

I certainly couldn’t read horror in bed. Goodness, the nightmares that would ensue!

This association with romance and bedtime reading got me thinking. Then, the next day, a letter in response to the article further stirred my thoughts. After sharing her enjoyment of romance novels, recently rekindled, the letter-writer explains:

They are treasured, calming influences in these troubled times. It’s now John le Carré downstairs and romantic novels upstairs.

Interesting, don’t you think, that the writer enjoys romance at bedtime and a different novel during the day?

My theory is this: our bedroom is our sanctuary, and within it we wish to feel calm and cosy. We don’t want to think about what has been difficult in life today and may be difficult tomorrow; we don’t want to fret or agonise, or in fact think much at all. We want to unwind, relax, prepare the brain to drift peacefully to sleep. We want, then, to escape someplace beautiful, someplace soulful.

We want to escape into romance.

So many of us read in bed. I find it difficult to fall asleep without doing so, for I have been doing it for so many years. I too read romances in bed, because I find it’s like wrapping myself in a cocoon. The romance is almost like a dream; it’s a light and warm space in which to be. It’s private there, and it’s safe, removed from gritty reality. It’s a place of joy and – most profoundly – of hope.

Reading romance right before turning out the light… it’s a kind of self-care, I think, as effective as any other soothing bedtime ritual. As children, we were comforted by a gentle bedtime story – perhaps even a romantic fairy tale – and why should we have outgrown this tradition? We need stories; we need them for comfort and inspiration. We need stories of human connection, of passion, of love.

If we end a day in a place of love, surely we are more likely to begin the next one in that place too. If we dream of love, we will be open to love.

A nightstand stacked high with romance novels? That sounds like bliss to me.

Photo credits: 1) Alena Ozerova/Shutterstock.com; 2) Marc Dietrich/Shutterstock.com.

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