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Thursday News: Romance books make you more sensitive, maybe; Rom Cons...

“Results: As expected, fiction readers showed more interpersonal sensitivity than nonfiction readers. (Though there wasn’t a negative relationship between reading nonfiction and sensitivity.) When the researchers looked at the genres specifically, controlling for other variables, they found that reading romance in particular correlated with higher sensitivity scores, which makes sense for fans of a genre built on the foundation of expressing emotion. There were also relationships between reading suspense/thriller and domestic fiction books and higher sensitivity, but those ties were weaker than the one found with romance readers.” The Atlantic

“Audiences aren’t tired of romance; they’re tiring of formulas,” Sucsy says. “There is still a demand, and there always will be, for fresh and innovative stories that are smart and nuanced.” The trouble, he says, “has arisen from the fact that easy marketing and original stories seem to be working at cross-purposes — high-concept loglines might be easier to sell in a 30-second ad, but that doesn’t mean they make better movies.” The Hollywood Reporter

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. mari
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 05:49:48

    What happened to the Daily Deals yesterday?

  2. Jayne
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 05:53:46

    Re: RomComs – I agree with the predictability. There have been very few recent romcom movies that I’ve even finished much less liked.

  3. Jane
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 06:34:14

    @mari – I just totally forgot yesterday but I’m on it right now.

  4. Wendy
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 07:05:22


  5. Persnickety
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 07:19:19

    I don’t think it is that audiences are tiring of formulas, but that a lot of the things that made the formula work- the missed connection, the message not passed on, the unrequited sexual tension- are difficult in the era of the smartphone and the easy hookup.

    Harry and Sally would probably have hooked up in the car ride to NYC, making the rest of the movie about why they had a one night stand, moved on and are getting together again. That isn’t what I want to watch.

    Also, most of the characters in recent rom coms are not very like able. It’s hard to cheer for them to get together when you are thinking about how irritating they are.

  6. mari
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 07:48:53

    @Jane : Well you just get right on it! ;) And yeah, I have no life. ;) Thanks for all you do. This is a very valuable service especially in these times, its nice to know that no matter what happens, I can always read for cheap!

  7. Christine
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 08:00:29

    @Persnickety: said ‘Harry and Sally would probably have hooked up in the car ride to NYC, making the rest of the movie about why they had a one night stand, moved on and are getting together again. That isn’t what I want to watch. ‘

    I have to agree with a lot of this. I remember two movies of the “Friends with benefits” plotline that came out right after each other. I guess it’s my Generation X nature but I had no desire to see either one of them. I think it’s also why Jane Austen made such a big “comeback” in past twenty years or so. It would be impossible to do a modern film where there was any kind of tension or waiting unless the people were physically separated due to some circumstances. The movie “The Lake House” would have been over in 15 minutes if there wasn’t a “time travel” element to it.
    I also agree that the writing has been just plain awful in most movies billed as romantic comedies. The women must act like irrational harpies obsessed with getting married and the men forced to be some stereotypical Alpha male caricature until it’s revealed it’s all because he has been hurt before and now he can settle down with Ashley Judd, Katherine Heigl or whomever.
    It’s no coincidence that so many of the great “modern” romantic comedies have Nora Ephron’s name attached to them. There is no substitute for great writing.

  8. library addict
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 09:22:25

    Also, most of the characters in recent rom coms are not very like able. It’s hard to cheer for them to get together when you are thinking about how irritating they are.

    @Persnickety: This.

    I don’t think audiences are necessarily tired of the formula. They just aren’t making good romcoms anymore. Certainly none that have that “must see in the theatre don’t want to wait for the DVD” factor.

  9. Nadia Lee
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 09:22:44

    I intensely dislike romantic comedies. They don’t even have the mindless, but fun spectacle factor (one thing that helps me sit through less-than-stellar action flicks).

  10. Dana S
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 10:56:57

    I don’t like rom coms all that much because too often the ‘comedy’ comes from making the heroine the butt of the joke. And they seem to be stuck in 1980s romance tropes. The romance genre in books have managed to evolve over time but the movies have not.

  11. Lada
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 11:48:08

    I think the issue with rom coms is really about the marketability and the bottom line. It’s not at all surprising to me that there aren’t very many good rom coms being written and produced given that Hollywood (like Madison Avenue) continues to predominately market to young, white men. There aren’t enough brilliant women (Nora Ephron – who is already gone and Nancy Meyers – who hasn’t done anything since 2009…maybe Tina Fey will step up now that she’s done with TV) and studios backing them willing to make movies mostly for entertaining women. As long as they think they have to gear movies towards teen-aged boys to make money, any potential rom com is going to veer towards Zoolander and Dumb and Dumber territory (both of which have sequels in the works…ugh.)

  12. Marianne McA
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 12:17:32

    I do remember going to a training morning about working in youth groups with children with aspergers, autism and dyslexia where the – inspirational – teacher broke off into an aside about one of his teenage aspergers students who had decided to model his romantic advances on the way the heroes behaved in his mum’s romance novels.

    Turns out, really not such a good idea.

  13. Melissa Blue
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 12:23:56

    After reading this I started to mitch on Twitter. When Nora Ephron passed I honestly felt like there went my final hope that another deliciously good rom com would ever be made. I’m a cynic but I’m willing to be surprised. When Harry Met Sally is a relic of a romance, but it stands up to the modern age not because it’s an 80s trope (the 80s trope). It respected the characters and it respected the viewer. The great ones didn’t play the characters for laughs and slap on a romance so it could be billed as such. The writers actually wrote a romance and a comedy.

    Rom Coms aren’t going to look the same, because I don’t think they can be. We aren’t. Definitely, Maybe is a rom com to me. So is Love and Other Drugs. Yup, the Rom Com hey day is over and I have to say after watching a lot of crap ones THANK GOD, but good ones are still made. We just have to wait three years for them. That falling in love period may not be in a coffee shop or a book store, but it’s happening. So, yes, it’s broken, but not dead.


  14. Shanna Swendson
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 13:47:49

    I love romantic comedies. I even love the bad ones, if only to snark about them. But it’s been a while since I actually liked a newly produced one on the big screen (I think the last one I loved was Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day).

    I think a lot of the problem these days comes from two extremes, either too much reliance on “formula” or lack of faith in the “formula.” On the one hand, there seem to be a lot of filmmakers trying to make romantic comedies who must not like them, themselves, and who look down on their audience, so they get by with lazy writing, thinking that if they hit all the usual steps (the meet cute, the mad dash across town at the end) and cast whoever’s hot at the moment, come up with a good soundtrack and throw in a few pratfalls, their audience will go for it. Except most of us can feel the contempt radiating off the movie, and it doesn’t work. On the other hand, there are those who think that telling a story about people falling in love has been done, so they load it up with high-concept gimmicks and think that alone will make the movie work, and they neglect minor details like characters and thinking about why these two people should be together instead of focusing so hard on the high concept that’s keeping them apart. You end up with some flash but with an ultimately unsatisfying story. They don’t seem to realize that there’s flexibility within the so-called formula, and that there’s something to be said for excellent execution of a classic, without the bells and whistles. Respect the genre and find the heart in it, and you can make it work.

    I actually get my romantic comedy fix these days mostly from the Lifetime and ABC Family channel Christmas movies. They’re really low-budget and mostly seem to involve Canadian C-list cast, but they manage to find a way to tell fun, funny stories about people I actually want to end up together. Starting in late November I stock up on popcorn and prepare to get my annual fix. It’s one of my career goals to write a script for one of these movies.

  15. farmwifetwo
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 15:18:22

    @Wendy: As of May 2013 aspergers technically no longer exists. The current discussion is whether they are severe enough for an ASD DX or a social communication disorder one. The continued online discussion and hijack of autism not being a disability is one reason I finally parted with autism online.

    I am not a movie fan… To hard to skip parts I don’t like.

  16. Moriah Jovan
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 16:06:59

    @Shanna Swendson:

    Except most of us can feel the contempt radiating off the movie


  17. KellyM
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 16:13:48

    @ Shanna Swendson
    I loved Miss Pettigrew! And I also get my rom com fix from Lifetime & ABC Family Christmas movies. If your cable provider carries the Hallmark channel, you should try their Christmas movies too. :-)

  18. Laurie Evans
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 17:06:09

    @library addict: @library addict:

    Totally agree!

  19. Amanda
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 17:09:51


    You are so right it does seem like most comedy is geared toward a younger male audience. Whenever I even look in the comedy section of netflix it seems filled with movies that would bore me to tears with their silliness/crudeness. That is were the market is now and even when Rom-Com’s are made it doesn’t seem they are trying very hard

  20. Fiona McGier
    Oct 03, 2013 @ 23:31:18

    The most recent movie I rented with a mostly female cast wasn’t a rom-com, but an older-woman comedy, starring Brooke Shields, Virginia Madson, Darryl Hannah, Camron Mannheim, and Wanda Sykes. They used to be on an award-winning basketball team when in high school. They reunite for a good cause and challenge the current winning girls team to a few games. It’s not a great movie, but it was amusing. But no one I’ve talked to ever heard of it, nor saw a trailer. The studio buried it, though it has all of those “big names” in it. Maybe the studios figure only adolescent boys go to movies…maybe they’re right?
    I’ve never been a fan of rom-coms, but then I don’t like Regency or historical romances either. All of that mannered behavior that dances around the idea of sex bores me. I prefer contemporary or futuristic themes.

  21. SAO
    Oct 04, 2013 @ 01:18:57


    Asperegers has been way over diagnosed, so it doesn’t surprise me that now many people don’t think it should be a disorder. It infuriates me on two levels: one, labeling less-than-highly social kids with a disorder, and, often, medicating them. Two: the conclusions about Autism made by observing and listening to these Aspies, who have little in common with my very handicapped Autistic brother.

    What does it feel like to not understand the world you are living in? Well, if you can articulate that clearly so the rest of us can understand it, you don’t have problems with communication or empathy, which are the two hallmarks of Autism.

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