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Why Romance Is Important | Erica Cameron – Sea of Strangers

I have always been a reader. On vacations, a significant portion of my suitcase was books, and I always blew through those so fast that I’d start pleading with my parents to take me to a local bookstore. I was voracious, and I tended to jump genres a lot once I branched away from the children’s section of the library. Romance, however, didn’t enter my reading world until years I was in my mid-twenties.

The way I moved through sections of the bookstores and libraries I frequented seemed like a natural progression at the time, but looking back on it, I can see how my younger self was heavily influenced by the tastes and actions of the people around me.My dad was a fan of mysteries and sci-fi/fantasy, and when I first got bored with the children’s section of the library, it was his books I borrowed. My mom didn’t have a lot of time to read, and when she did she preferred non-fiction that didn’t tend to interest me, so I stuck to dad’s shelves and piles. When school friends brought in romance novels stolen from their mom’s bookshelves, those stories were treated like something lurid and forbidden, and they only ever read aloud the most explicit of the sex scenes they found. To baby me, there was no appeal in a book revolving solely around sex. Since I didn’t have any romance readers in my life to correct my misconceptions, I didn’t pick up a romance novel until after I graduated college when I began working at Borders.

Over the two and a half years I worked at Borders, I held a lot of positions—bookseller, training supervisor, merchandising supervisor, and inventory supervisor. By necessity, I had to put my hands on almost every book in the store and recommending titles and authors in the romance section. I had to read the backs of the books so I knew what was available and what authors to start with if someone was looking for contemporary vs. shapeshifter paranormal. It was only a matter of time before something caught my eye strongly enough to intrigue me to buy a copy and take it home. The first to hit that mark was What I Did For Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

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