When we approach Valentine’s Day at Gramercy Books, we tend to get in the romantic mood. For someone like me, an author and bookseller, I am noticing that there are a lot of people drawn to romance novels, and not just in February!

Gramercy bookseller Nikki Snyder tells me she started reading romance books a lot during the last two or three years, and she notes that reading romance stories served, for her, as an escape from the pandemic and the general chaos in the world. “With romance we almost always have a happy ending, and while sometimes the novels can be a touch too predictable, there is something to be said for the soothing formula of a rom-com.” As a frequent romance reader, Nikki points out something else that appeals to her: that romance novels are usually written by women with female protagonists—a.k.a. persons with whom she can identify.

Along with Katie Cerqua, Nikki developed Gramercy Books’ quarterly Romance Book Club and the two women moderate those discussion gatherings. Says Nikki, “Our popular Romance Book Club is the most joyous collection of people. We have a blast discussing our favorite tropes and cliches.” Says Katie, “Romance has become one of the top genres that I find myself drawn to.” Katie thinks romance books spark joy for the reader who feels seen, and who feels like love is possible. “Romance tends to get a terrible reputation for being repetitive, trivial, or not complex enough,” Katie notes. “Sure, it can be a predictable genre, but it still has layers and it’s a genre that is able to connect with thousands of people.”

Both Katie and Nikki agree that romance books are for everyone. “I also love that modern romance stories have evolved to include important issues like body positivity, mental health advocacy, and gender identity,” says Nikki. “On our shelves today, you can find so many stories featuring interracial relationships, a diverse array of ethnicities and nationalities, and representing the full spectrum of gender identity.” As Nikki and Katie both point out, there are so many kinds of romance novels: regency romance (Romancing Mr. Bridgerton), cozy romance (Lovelight Farms), fantasy romance, Black love stories (Before I Let Go), paranormal romance, queer romance (Delilah Green Doesn’t Care). . . The list goes on and on.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, the Gramercy romantics decided to launch “Blind Date with a [Romance] Book.” What better time, Nikki thought, for a blind date than Valentine’s Day? The books are gift wrapped and tied with colorful ribbons, then displayed on a side cap. Tropes and plot points are written on the outside wrapping so customers can pick the “perfect date” for them! A spice level is also included on the front (on a scale from 1-5 chili peppers) so the reader will know just how steamy that particular book is. Gramercy booksellers acknowledge that some people love a nice wholesome Hallmark type of story and others love a steamy tryst. Always wanting to be the best matchmaker, Gramercy booksellers offer story hints to ensure customers will love their pick!

Written by Linda Kass

About the author: I began my career as a magazine writer and correspondent for regional and national publications and am now an assistant editor for Narrative, an online literary magazine. My debut novel, Tasa’s Song, was inspired by my mother’s early life in eastern Poland during the Second World War. My second historical novel, A Ritchie Boy, was inspired by my immigrant father's role as a military intelligence office in World War II. My third novel, Bessie, a fictional portrait of Bess Myerson's early life, will be released in September of 2023. I am also the proud owner of Gramercy Books, serving all of central Ohio!

Learn more about me on my personal website.