We used to read Real Books.

We read smart things like classics and non fiction. We read things that you could read on the bus without shame. We could read in actual book format. We didn’t have to hide our books from our significant others and friends. Then came Gateway Books and ereaders, and now we are burning through formulaic books with more sex than plot. And we can’t stop won’t stop.

Once upon a time, the two of us were secretly devouring the kinds of books *most* people don’t talk about about. Like when your friend is asking for book recommendations on Facebook and everyone is suggesting the new Franzen and you want to suggest this super fun book you just read about an MMA fighter? But you know better. We were taking at a party one night, and started tentatively feeling each other out to see how deep into romance the other was. “Oh you like that (mildly shameful) book? Have you read (slightly more shameful book) yet?” Until we realized the shame was mutual, and we were reading the same amazing/terrible books. When we finally opened up to each other, it felt so good. It felt less like a dirty secret, more like a book club.

This is our shame, we shared it with each other, and now we want to share it with you because it feels good to come clean.

Cleone – When I was in my early teens, I babysat for a single mom who worked full time and went to night school, she had grocery bags full of paperback romances in every room in the house. I was busily (and pretentiously) making my way through Nabokov and all the Beat writers and the Complete Dorothy Parker; I was 13 and I knew her books were less than. That didn’t stop me from secretly and ferociously reading them after the kids went to bed. From slipping them into my book bag, ear marking them and sharing the “good parts” with my friends. I quelled my love of trash for a long long time, for the better part of two decades, until I was a tired single mom with a Nook tablet and the ability to buy the trashiest modern romances without anyone ever knowing what I was doing. Now when I try to read a Real Book my brain refuses to pay attention and reminds me that I have at least 50 unread free romances. It’s all trash all the time, and I know I should be ashamed.

I get catnip trapped by pretend relationships that turn real, brother’s best friend forbidden romances, single dads with cute moppets, and Alpha jerk heroes.

Mary –  My slippery slope started in the most embarrassing way possible: with Twilight… and 50 Shades. The classic, “This is not a good book and you should know better you smart modern woman” book. I just wanted to see what all the hubbub was about, ok? Then I bought a Kindle, and grew comfortable in the anonymity of an ebook. All of the sudden, the world of Books With Embarrassing Covers was wide open to me. My kindle library is a thing of beauty. One Direction Fan Fiction? Sure, how about the sequels? They’re all there. I’ve become a master free book hoarder (Sold to the Sheikh???). I love them.

But there’s still this feeling, like I should be ashamed of reading romance. Like I should hide it. It can feel like theres a stigma attached to romance novels, that other genres don’t get. Cleone and I wanted to start a blog where we could talk about romance novels like grown up ladies, all out in the open. Because you guys? A lot of these books are pretty great.

My catnips include all the weirdest forbidden romances, accidental pregnancies, and stories with the kinds of men you’d never want in real life: Posessive, Jealous, Brawlers… And I once took a ‘Which Bennet Sister Are You?’ quiz that said I’m a LYDIA. Cleone is a Lizzie and I’m still real salty about this.

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