Tuesday, November 13, 2007

On half-wits and people with horrid taste

AAR’s (XX annual?) Top 100 Romance Poll results are in, and let me tell you they suck! I wish they’d give me the emails of those who voted on this poll so I could send them a note insulting them on their really bad taste. Some of these “top” books were so bad in plot, character development and writing that I was forced to write posts about them—and I never do that!

I am beyond shocked that this list was published. I demand a re-poll and/or recount? Whatever. All I know is that these results will make romance the laughingstock of the literary world. Oh, wait—we already are—but this can’t help!!! *grrr*
And these are only in the first 20. You should see how BAD the rest of the list is, or maybe not because it’ll give you a blinding headache. Just to wet your appetite though, one of the worst books I have EVER read, Gone too Far, came in at 87 and I swear this was written by a 13-year-old grammatically challenged teenage boy.

Can you believe Paradise was 24, Heaven, Texas 33, and Almost Heaven 35? *smashing head against desk repeatedly*

Questions:
  • 1) How many books have you read from the list? (I’ve read 52.)
  • 2) What did you think of the overall results?
  • 3) Which books would have made your top 10?

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28 comment(s):

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

This would have been my top 20 (I think b/c I can never remember books I like)

Paradise by JM
Bet Me by JC
Welcome to Temptation by JC
Almost Heaven by JM
Honest Illusions by NR
This Heart of Mine by SEP
Devil in Winter by LK
Flirting with Danger by SE
Splendid by JQ
The Duke and I by JQ
Saving Grace by JG
As you Desire CB
Deadly er well the next to last Deadly book by BJ
Open Season by LH
I Do I Do I Do by MO
The Duke and I by JQ
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton by JQ
A LC with a Duke and a Journalist (can't remember the name)
Gone with the Wind

11/13/2007 02:30:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

1) I've read 59.

2) WTF? Those JM books should have been higher. Glad to see 2 of my fave Brockway are included and 2 Ivory (they forgot SLEEPING BEAUTY).

What the fuck is JR Ward doing in there?!? I like MATCH ME but it's higher than THIS HEART OF MINE? Also VISCOUNT WHO LOVED ME over THE DUKE AND I?

If they can remember LaVyrle Spencer, why not Pamela Morsi who writes the funniest, warmest, SWEETEST romances ever.

My top romances:
Paradise, Something Wonderful, A Kingdom of Dreams - Judith McNaught
Keeper of the Dream - Penelope Williamson
Welcome to Temptation, Bet Me - Jennifer Crusie
Garters, Wild Oats - Pamela Morsi
All Through the Night - Connie Brockway
Bewitching - Jill Barnett
Princess, The Duke - Gaelen Foley
The Duke and I - Julia Quinn
Kiss An Angel - Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The Prize, Honor's Splendour - Julie Garwood
Bitten - Kelley Armstrong

11/13/2007 02:50:00 PM  

Blogger ...dance? said...

I've read 65 of them. I think this is why I don't usually look at these things.

My top 10, in no particular order:

The Blue Sword, Beauty - by Robin McKinley (well, I think ALL of McKinley's books are highly romantic, but it's probably only those two that have a more or less complete HEA; her other endings are more open-ended or ambiguous, which I like/prefer, but not something that makes a romance, I'm given to understand.)

Welcome to Temptation - Jennifer Crusie

Lord of Scoundrels - Loretta Chase

Midsummer Moon, Flowers in the Storm - Laura Kinsale

Untie My Heart, Bliss, Black Silk - Judith Ivory

Outlander series - though by definition it's not really a romance novel/series.

Dream a Little Dream (except for the last chapter), Ain't She Sweet? - Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Devil in Winter - Lisa Kleypas

The Raven Prince, The Serpent Prince - Elizabeth Hoyt

If Bitten is a romance novel, then that one too. Also The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold - and Cordelia's Honor.

Lady of the Forest/Lady of Sherwood - Jennifer Roberson (recently re-released, I think)

Archangel - Sharon Shinn

And many more I'm sure I've forgotten.

11/13/2007 03:57:00 PM  

Blogger Petra said...

I don't think Outlander should be there. It's not romance.

Here are my top 10 in no particular order:

Shadowheart - Loretta Chase
Devil in Winter - Lisa Kleypas
The Raven Prince - Elizabeth Hoyt
Saving Grace - Julie Garwood
Kingdom of Dreams, Once and Always - Judith McNaught
Splendid - Julia Quinn
The Duke - Gaelen Foley
Welcome to Temptation - Jenny Crusie
Mr. Perfect - Linda Howard
Twilight - Stephenie Meyer (although, it's not really under the romance genre)

11/13/2007 04:36:00 PM  

Blogger Petra said...

Forgot my number! LOL

I've read 54 :D

11/13/2007 04:48:00 PM  

Anonymous 2nd Amdt said...

Ready for this ... I've read 9, actually less than that, I think two were skimmed because I hate not finishing a book but I thought they sucked.

I think it is interesting that 60% of the books came from 11 authors. And the majority of books seem to be historicals, and just a smattering of contemporary. Maybe that's why I haven't read too many, because I prefer contemporaries.

One author that is missing in my mind is Catherine Anderson; I love Phantom Waltz. Lauren Bach's Lone Rider; I See You by Holly Lisle; and a few categories would be in my top 10.

11/13/2007 06:31:00 PM  

Blogger Jordis Juice said...

I've read 43. Am I the only one who finds it odd that there is no Kathleen Woodiwiss on that list? Her old novels (The Flame and the Flower, Shanna, The Wolf and the Dove) are romance classics.

I don't think I can only name 10 books so I'll say most of Judith McNaught's HR and Julie Garwood's as well.

There are 4 JR Ward books in there. Fun books but I quite agree, not "top 10ish material".

11/13/2007 07:11:00 PM  

Anonymous Gabrielle said...

1) I've read 47. There are so many on that list that I am dying to read mostly by Lisa Kleypas and Laura Kinsale. I'm going to check out the some other authors there because I'm running out of good ones.

2)Ummm.. agreed with some. Mostly the ones that I've read I was impressed with. I haven't read a lot of bad books so thats probably why. Bit surprised to see a lack of Jude Deveraux. I love some of her stuff. I admit that a few of her books are quite weak but there are those really really really good ones that I cant get enough of.


3)All of the Judith McNaught books would have been in my top 10 (if they fit of course) with Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

11/14/2007 06:45:00 AM  

Anonymous Di said...

I've read 62 but most of these wouldn't be in my top list.

I also think McNaught should have been higher and SEP too. I was surprised there were so few Nora Roberts in there too.

Outlander is not a romance so I'm not really sure why it's included there. I understand that even Gabaldon herself has complained about that and refuses to take part in AAR. Is that correct?

11/14/2007 08:24:00 AM  

Anonymous Mikal said...

Wow, all of those books beating Judith McNaught?

What the heck?

I don't even want to check the list anymore.

11/14/2007 08:37:00 AM  

Anonymous Mikal said...

I've read maybe 1/3 of the books on the list and heard of (but chose not to read) about the rest of the books.. and I'm so surprised at how the list turned out.

The readers apparently have really bad taste.

My top 20 (in no order after the top 6)

Paradise: Judith McNaught
A Kingdom of Dreams: JM
The Time Traveler's Wife: Audrey Niffenegger
Almost Heaven: JM
Something Wonderful: JM
Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen


Honor's Splendor: Julie Garwood
Nobody's Angel: Karen Robards
Scandalous: Karen Robards
November of the Heart: Lavryle Spencer
The Reef: Nora Roberts
An Offer from a Gentleman: Julia Quinn
Romancing Mr. Bridgerton: JQ
Match Me If You Can: SEP
Natural Born Charmer: SEP
Keeper of the Dream: Penelope Williamson
Believe in Me: Josie Litton
The Tea Rose: Jennifer Donnelly
The Winter Rose: Jennifer Donnelly
The Bronze Horseman: Paullina Simons
Tatiana and Alexander: PS

11/14/2007 09:01:00 AM  

Blogger Midas said...

I'm so with you on Balogh...still disagree with you on Outlander...plus the spanking was not even 1% of the book. just skip that part and you have a fabulous book.

11/14/2007 12:48:00 PM  

Blogger ...dance? said...

Outlander is not a romance so I'm not really sure why it's included there. I understand that even Gabaldon herself has complained about that and refuses to take part in AAR. Is that correct?

Outlander itself could be considered a romance - it (more or less) follows the courtship and HEA "requirements" of a typical romance novel - but the rest of the series? Not so much.

I have no idea if Gabaldon is part of the AAR or not. But I know she would like her books out of the romance section because "romance", while a major part of the books, is a misleading label of them. At least in terms of what one thinks of when one is told something is a "romance novel".

(And personally I think it sucks for the romance genre that such books are not considered romance. But then, I also think a HEA shouldn't be required, necessarily, and that some books would be/are better off without one. Not that I want an Unhappily Ever After, but sometimes an ending that fits the story is more satisfying, for me, than an unearned HEA. It's probably why my Top 10 Romances aren't all typically shelved in the romance section, but I digress.)

And then there are her Lord John Grey novels - which are primarily historical mysteries, and the main character is gay, to boot. Not exactly the stuff of usual romance novels (though there is romance in the books).

All that said, I'm not married to the genre (or any genre). I don't care that Gabaldon/her publishers shelved the books in romance first to gain an audience and now want to be in general fiction; that's good marketing strategy, to me. And Gabaldon doesn't knock romance - she reads 'em herself, she says - but isn't wrong when she says her books are not romance novels - not the way the general public thinks of them. It frustrates me a little that the romance genre is so limited. IMO, a good book is a good book, regardless of where it's shelved; I like my stories with romance in them, so those are the ones I tend to seek out, regardless of whether it's YA, mystery, SF/F, etc.

11/14/2007 03:31:00 PM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Well said, Dance. Though i am, um, kinda blind when it comes to OUTLANDER. :/

This is why i didn't add TBH on my list (and some other books). I don't know how ARR conducts this annual poll, what their criteria are... is OUTLANDER included because many people still consider it "romance"?

Since ARR is probably the most popular representation of the romance community online, do they only want to include books under the romance genre? Probably to encourage people to read romance or whatever.

I think that's the case really, because there are a lot of very romantic books outside the romance genre but they weren't included. Or people who voted really are clueless. LOL

Ok, i'm rambling. Anyway, genres are very confusing.

11/15/2007 04:31:00 AM  

Blogger Isabella said...

I've read 61 of them. That's good right?

Here are my picks, those I remember:

Almost Heaven - JM
Something Wonderful - JM
Kingdom of Dreams - JM
An Offer From a Gentleman - JQ
The Duke and I - JQ
The Bride - JG
Lion's Lady - JG
It Had To Be You - SEP
Heaven Texas - SEP
Twilight - SM
McKenzie's Mountain - LH
Simply Irresistible - Rachel Gibson
The Duke - Gaelen Foley
The Bronze Horseman - PS
Outlander series
The Notebook - NS
As You Desire - CB

11/15/2007 10:39:00 AM  

Anonymous Kikee said...

I am going to go out on a limb and assume that Ms. Gabaldon has less than nothing to do with AAR. Seeing as Ms. Gabaldon has let it be known, quite emphatically, that she DOES NOT write romance novels.

11/16/2007 02:47:00 PM  

Anonymous Ally said...

Dreaming of You is one of my favorite books by Lisa Kleypas.

I happen to love Brockmann's Troubleshooters series.

Mary Balogh can't write, now that I'm with you.

11/16/2007 05:16:00 PM  

Blogger ...dance? said...

Seeing as Ms. Gabaldon has let it be known, quite emphatically, that she DOES NOT write romance novels.

Heh. According to readers - fans and non-fans alike ;) - she doesn't write romance novels either. But evidently someone must think she writes romance novels because that's where her books are shelved and her books somehow gets nominated in romance lists.

11/17/2007 01:11:00 PM  

Blogger Jolie said...

Ah, the Diana Gabaldon does not write romance forever debate. What is so wrong if your books are labeled romance? People, romance is not a disease.

11/18/2007 04:02:00 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

She did not want to be mislabeled.

11/18/2007 05:07:00 PM  

Blogger ...dance? said...

And she wants bigger sales/not to alienate half of her audience (ie, men), to paraphrase.

Which, hey, why not?

Apparently in countries (not the USA) where her books are shelved in the General Fiction (or equivalent) section, they sell better.

What is so wrong if your books are labeled romance?

Well, I can see her frustration with it when she/her books are knocked for Not Being Romance...

She's damned if she does and damned if she doesn't, it seems. You get some people who say it's an affront to romance books/readers/whoever not to want to be in the genre (any more) and some who say it's an affront to the romance genre because her books don't follow the usual pattern of courtship and HEA and therefore are not romances...

Personally, I think bookstores should just cross-shelve cross-genre books to find the biggest possible audience. Or do away with genre altogether -- though I think the trend is to become even more genre-specific (paranormals, urban fantasy, women's fiction, etc, etc, all of which I really do not understand very well).

11/19/2007 01:37:00 AM  

Blogger Jolie said...

DG's first books in the series were originally shelved in the romance section, and I believe thats what made her series popular. In a way I understand her frustration.

I think it all comes down to what your readers expect. For ex. Danielle Steele. Her books are shelved in romance because that's where her readers expect to find her books.

11/19/2007 06:00:00 AM  

Blogger Harlot said...

Genre is, in a way, limiting already, what more if you specify those within the genre? Clearly some books don't fit in one genre and most genres have many boundaries. Also readers have to know EXACTLY where to find the books!

Still, I think doing away with the genre altogether won't help. Most people use genres as a sort of guide. Bookstores will need a very good staff who will remember which area each and every book is located. That's just crazy. Either that or lose sale because the costumer couldn't find the book he's looking for. :P

11/19/2007 09:33:00 AM  

Blogger ...dance? said...

DG's first books in the series were originally shelved in the romance section, and I believe thats what made her series popular

They're still shelved in Romance - at least in the bookstores around here.

And, imo, it's her writing that makes the series so popular, though shelving it in romance may have expedited the process.

Saying the romance genre made Outlander popular is, to me, like saying Harry Potter is famous because the series is shelved in the children's section.

Also readers have to know EXACTLY where to find the books!

Yeah, I get that. But that's also partly why I think genre can be so frustratingly arbitrary...

Lois McMaster Bujold's latest books, The Sharing Knife, vols 1 & 2, for example, are imo very, very romantic - more so than Outlander - and yet, they are shelved in the SF/F section. Which I understand, because they are SF/F book as well, but this is where I think cross-shelving could be useful in gaining a bigger audience.

11/19/2007 03:34:00 PM  

Blogger Leslie Dicken said...

I'm ashamed (I think?) to say that I've only read 6 or 7 of them. And half of those were the classic literature (Jane Eyre, etc.). Still, with ALL of the authors and books out there, it's rather amusing? surprising? interesting? that the same authors made the list over and over and over again.

Oh, and don't tell anyone, but I've never read Gabaldon. ;-)

11/20/2007 12:05:00 AM  

Blogger Vicious Trollop said...

Re: Oh, and don't tell anyone, but I've never read Gabaldon

Leslie, count yourself lucky. You have no idea how much therapy money you've saved. I still wake up drenched in sweats from Jamie/JRandall nightmares *shudder*

Re: Saying the romance genre made Outlander popular is, to me, like saying Harry Potter is famous because the series is shelved in the children's section.

Dance, the thing is, who reads Gabaldon? Mostly romance readers for the look of it. They buy her and love her (god knows why). I'll check and see if she's won any awards for other genres or any voting by popularity contest.

But being in the romance section is what has made her a household name. Her publishers were smart to shelve/categorize her there b/c they knew romance sells half the books that are published each year.

I'll look into this and see what I can find and maybe write a post on it.

Re: Dreaming of You is one of my favorite books by Lisa Kleypas.

I happen to love Brockmann's Troubleshooters series.

Mary Balogh can't write, now that I'm with you.


Ally, say it isn't so LOL That Troubleshooter series *ACKKKK* I've read a couple and one worse than the next!!!!!!!!! LOL At least we agree on Balogh *g*

11/20/2007 08:45:00 AM  

Blogger ...dance? said...

Hmm. Well, personally, I found Gabaldon in the SF/F section of my library and then in the General Fiction shelves in Chapters. It wasn't until I was in the US of A that I noticed her books were in Romance.

But being in the romance section is what has made her a household name.

I don't quite get this correlation -- how do we know it's the Romance Genre that did it and not, say, because her books are simply appealing to a great number of people? (Though, no, it doesn't have the cross-age appeal of HP -- which I don't think it should, given some of the content.) I think she would have found an audience if she were shelved in SF/F or Historical Fiction; her books are atypical for the Romance Genre, even if one considers them Romance.

I still wake up drenched in sweats from Jamie/JRandall nightmares

But there's no slash there...

And I haven't read HP, so it's the same boat, more or less.

Her publishers were smart to shelve/categorize her there b/c they knew romance sells half the books that are published each year.

Yes, I agree with this. But I'm not sure why there's so much uproar over moving her books out of the romance section if romance readers also agree that her books are NOT romances?

11/20/2007 03:27:00 PM  

Anonymous Sarah McCarty said...

Diana Gabaldon romance- Outlander is romance. It was bought as romance and marketed as romance with a quote from JM as a selling point. That's why she was shelved in romance. The rest of the series may or may not be romance (haven't read it) but they put the first book where it fit and where it would sell best. I don't believe Diana was ever happy with that as she could see the whole series in her head.

A book being romantic does not make it romance. It's a genre classification and what makes a book romantic suspense verses suspense is the HEA. A romance must always have an HEA. Without it it falls into another genre classification, ie. suspense, mystery, fantasy, woman's fiction, etc

Top 100 list- I've read or tried to read them all. A lot of the selections make me shake my head, but putting together a list of 100 books is a tedious task and this poll merely represents the taste of whomever felt up to the challenge. Of whom I was not one. *G*

11/23/2007 04:04:00 PM