05 June 2018

A Personal Challenge // AAR Top 100 Romances

A Personal Challenge
Anyone who has stopped by of later will have heard the continual complaints of my reading slump. It’s an ongoing issue, I don’t know why I’m not wanting to read as much or why I can’t settle on a good book but I just can’t. I’m trying to reign in my spending habits to counter it but I am sad about it because I want to be reading and it’s seriously impacting my wish to blog because when I blog I remember how much I’m not reading.

Anyway, because I’m not reading as much I’ve felt a bit lost on how to decide what to read next. Then Twitter started popping up with various things about the AAR Top 100 Romances. Now, I didn’t know what AAR was or anything, but boy did I want to know what the top 100 romances were going to be so I used a little Google-fu and discovered not only the list but also what on Earth it even was.

AAR stands for All About Romance, and as per their about page the site was established way book in 1996 (was the internet even a thing back then, my computer time at that age was limited to Acorn computers (of which there was one per classroom) and then there was the seminal MS Paint (which I feel like might have been later than that, but we all remember scribble monsters and the fill tool, right?) but anyway, All About Romance has history is what I’m saying. They seem to organise a vote every few years to discover the Top 100 Romances and that’s pretty damn cool. I figured, why not see how many of the Top 100 I’d read, for research purposes and what better way to get back into reading than procrastinating, right?

Anyway, they conveniently had a list of all the romances (in alphabetical order) so I was looking through but then I got the bright idea to put it into a nice spreadsheet, make it way easier to collate together what I have read/haven’t and also which ones I own and just haven’t got to reading yet. I had already read a respectable 30 of them and I’ve DNF-ed Jane Eyre so many times it’s getting a little ridiculous now. I am never going to like that book, why can’t I just accept it? But anyway, I was like a third through the list already and there was about a dozen more I had available to me to read so I figured why not and try to conquer the Top 100?
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And thus this post was born, me and my little spreadsheet are on a mission to read (or DNF) and maybe even review all of these books. I have already read two more and I’m contemplating a third. It’s in no way helping me conquer my TBR pile of books but I’m enjoying myself.

I will say a few things about this list. I am aware and have had it pointed out to me, that this list is not filled with the most current reads and whilst a few of these may be old favourites in the romance world, they probably do not all age well. Hell, one of my reads has already raised some questions about consent and I know I may experience this again. I know there are a couple of my own favourites on the list, but I am prepared for questionable romance in here as well. Also… it’s historical heavy and this may be down to the audience voting on this one, but it’s something I am obviously aware of this, this is still a list limited by the audience voting for it. And the most key thing I recognise about this list? There is very little diversity on the list either. It’s a reflection of the publishing world in general and that doesn’t make it okay, but I do not fault the voters or AAR for the lack of diversity but instead see it as another sad reminder that the romance world needs to do better at making their published work more diverse, there are writers out there and publishers need to do more to find them.

But I’ll get off my soapbox now and get back to being excited about my own personal romance reading challenge. I may not get through all 100 but right now it’s making me excited to pick up a book and that’s an achievement in itself. I am going tot ry and have regular reviews up from this list and maybe a couple of discussions of things I think of while I power through but who doesn't like a good Summer project?

Have any of you checked out the list? Is one of your favourites on there or are there books I’d be better off avoiding? I know there’ll be a few I don’t like but got to give them a shot, right?

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