Jaime Green makes her debut in The Book Review this week. Below, she discusses some of her favorite books, and why she thinks romance matters.
You’re The Times’s romance fiction columnist. What on earth qualifies you?
This is like having to write a cover letter for a job I already have! I started writing about romance novels not to review them, but to explore how they fit into the world — culturally and politically. I’ve been thinking about not only how good, fun and smart these books can be (very, very and very), but also why they matter, what motivates romance authors and what readers find in their work.
Let’s be real, what qualifies anyone to be a book critic?
Here’s what I’m trying to do. First, to look for books that are worth talking about — because they’re great, because they’re interesting or because they’re important. But criticism is neither pure evaluation nor pure dissection. Second, to come to books with an open mind — I like to think about how a book achieves its own goals, and what those goals are, rather than how it meets my own expectations.
The Gray Lady … covering romance novels? Why now?
Romance is one of the biggest genres in publishing. That’s unfortunately been part of why, I think, it’s so often written off. The Times covering romance is an important recognition that these books are a vital part of literary culture. Some readers stick to romance, but plenty of romance readers — including myself — read it among many other genres. And we read The New York Times, too.