Romance and Boy Readers

Well, I have to say, Emma is a tough act to follow.
I am so impressed with the maturity and insight in her answers. It made me wonder... How do boys approach romance in books?
My first step in answering the question was to call my local bookstore. Here's what they had to say about boys reading romance:
"I wouldn't say they [boys] balk at romance in stories, but it isn't the first thing they seek out. We hand-sell good stories with good writing here, but with reluctant readers, we do tend to recommend books with boy protagonists. Rick Riordan and David Levithan sell to both boys and girls. Stories that feature both boy and girl perspectives and friendships. But I know plenty of boys who have read the Twilight series because they get pulled into the story, or they're curious about what's going on in pop culture."
My conversation with my bookseller left me believing in that oft-repeated truism more than ever:
Good stories sell.
What about book covers, I asked. Do they influence how boys choose books in your store?
"Oh, absolutely. You don't really find boys picking up books with feminine cover design, no matter that the story holds inside."
No surprise here, right?
Next I called around to "the guys," my little sampling of young adult boys. I promised to keep them anonymous because I wanted them to be able to answer openly and honestly about loooove.

Valentine's Day - Cool or Not Cool?
J: This one was cool, but usually I'm not a fan.
me: So it depends who you're with?
J: Totally.
B: Not cool. There's too much pressure.

What's your perfect date?
J: A nice dinner. Maybe a movie afterward. A good night hanging out.
B: Skiing or a hike. Just spending time together.
(I found this so interesting. These answers were so laid back, like Emma's. It seems most of us find "hanging out" the most romantic thing possible. And yet we hear so much about the big romantic gestures.)

Flowers? A showy gift or something personal?
J: Showy. Flowers are good.
B: Something personal. I can't do flowers.

How do you feel about romance in movies and books?
J: It all depends. I like action and adventure. Sci-fi. The romance part has to come at the right moment. If it's too lovey-dovey, I get bored.
B: Right. It can't be the only thing in the story. It can't be super-sappy, like every single line, because then it doesn't feel real.

So there you have it. Boy readers appreciate books with gender-neutral covers, and that keep romance real and as a story element, not the story element.


Hey, I must be part guy or something, because I totally agree with that - the romance shouldn't be the whole cover. (I think the Twilight series would be a good example.) Heck, I don't even like it if the romance is the only thing in the actual book.
(Except for Harlequins, which are my guilty pleasure. Ehehe.)

Yahong, I totally agree. Thanks for coming by!

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