Library ghettoes

I started reading Beatriz Williams for the first time this year. I bought A Hundred Summers and the next time I went to the library, I thought I would go ahead and pick up another one of her books.

When I got to the W section, I couldn’t find any of her books. I assumed that she was incredibly popular and all of her books were currently out. The next time I was in the library, I did the same thing. Still, none of her books were there. I decided to use the computer to see what was going on and learned that Beatriz Williams’ books are considered Romance books and have their own section.

The problem, for me, is that I’ve long held Romance novels to be the domain of silver haired golden girls. I couldn’t just roll up to the Romance section and have other people see me searching the shelves for a book to read! I strolled past, like I was just passing through, and quickly dipped down to pick one up – luckily the Ws fell at the end of the row.


Me, sneaking into the Romance section

I’ve since returned a couple of times (for more) and every time I get the same feeling. I actually stopped and checked out some of the authors the other day and realized that I had looked for some of these authors in the past but never found them because I never go to the Romance section.

And this got me thinking: why the hell is there a romance section? And how are these decisions made? Jane Fallon, Jane Green and Sophie Kinsella are not Romance but Nora Roberts and Beatriz Williams are?

What about Danielle Steele? I’ve definitely seen her books in the regular fiction section.

The thing is, there are probably loads of readers that have never read work by authors they might really enjoy because they’ve been relegated to this Romance ghetto. I used to bypass the crime fiction/mystery section for the same reason. I thought that those books were only for old people (why am I so ageist?!) and gave them a pass until I started reading Agatha Christie several years ago. Crime fiction is still fiction. Romance novels are still fiction. Fantasy is still fiction.

Graphic novels – those can have their own section, that’s totally fine.

Why can’t they all live together in one big fiction section?

If you know the actual reason, please tell me!

12 thoughts on “Library ghettoes

  1. Good question! And I don’t have an answer as my library doesn’t shelve that way. But one of my favorite hobbies is sending my husband to the library for me when my most blatant romance reads come in. He really loves walking home with those covers 🙂

    A+ gif usage as well.

  2. Romance ghetto–ha! This post made me laugh. And you ask a really good question. Why do they segregate certain books but not others? I’ve noticed at my library that with certain authors, half their books end up either in mystery or romance, while the other half of their books sit on the regular fiction shelves. How dumb is that?

    • I just really think that labelling them thus means that some readers dismiss them outright even though they might be books they’d really enjoy!
      The only author I’ve noticed the split with is Alexander McCall Smith – his detective/mystery series are housed in crime fiction, the rest of his work is in fiction. That has always struck me as strange too.

  3. Good question. I always assumed romance section housed books whose entire plot revolve around romance. And books that have romance, but a plot otherwise, go in regular fiction. But now that I think about it, it’s not set up that way really.

  4. “Romance ghetto” is definitely a winner! My library doesn’t shelve books that way either, but I have to admit that I’m that I can be a snob and might not even look at books in that section.

  5. Haha. Our library just mixes it all up (except for the mass paperbacks), but that sounds like me at the second-hand book store. But I still have a peek, because I know that you can find some good books in there that don’t belong! I often go in there itching to re-organize everything!

  6. I LOVED that gif. Haha. I definitely still have some issues to work through with romance novels – I just automatically skip over that section. I don’t think I ever walk through it – even to get to another area of the library. It’s ridiculous, I know.

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