NO RIPPING BODICES
Looking for Love in All the Wrong Bookstores
Heroes with names like Colt or Brick, halfnaked couples, willowy heroines, and ripping bodices are familiar to any romance novel fan. And with Valentine's Day fast upon us, many of these fans may be looking for something with a flowery title to counter those lack-of-love blues.
But finding such lowbrow literature with the oh-so-academic confines of Harvard Square is not so easy. While you can find a copy of Foucault's History of Sexuality almost anywhere, few bookstores carry anything resembling romance novel. Perhaps because most courses do not include any romance novels on their reading lists, a Harvard Square search yields these results:
The Coop: No romance department here. But to cash in on the upcoming holiday, a special Valentine's table has been set up by the door. A variety of rather interesting titles vaguely relating to love adorn the display. Perhaps more appropriate for the self-help section, one book entitled How to Attract Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere advocates that singles should flirt using the "repeat, rephrase, reflect" method of conversation to attract maximum partners.
Also available for love-Iron academics are such useful anthologies as The Literary Companion to Sex. This sexy volume includes excerpts from Sappho, the Kama Sutra, and everyone's sensual favorite, the Talmud.
But for the likes of Unchained Passionand Love Among the Ashes, the Coop is not the place to look. According to one Coop staffer, this does not mean these novels are not wanted. "We have a reasonable amount of requests for them," he said, "but not enough to warrant a full section.
Wordsworth: This otherwise extensive bookstore has no separate romance section either. A few Danielle Steel novels and an assortment of Judith Krantz's are scattered in the fiction section, but one staffer told FM that the store has "hardly any romances, compared to a chainstore like Barnes & Noble or Waldenbooks."
If truly desperate of February 14th, a copy of Heavy Petting: Romantic Advice from my Cat is available at the cash register.
Harvard Bookstore: This staid bookstore was unashamed of its relatively meager collection of lusty pageturners. "No, no, no. We don't carry contemporary schmaltz. Certainly not," one staffer said.
Out of Town News: A momentary stop at this Harvard Square landmark reveals a collection of quite a different sort. Titles include such gems as The Harder the Better and Virgin Till [sic] Midnight. Not suitable for those seeking hearts and flowers, this should probably be used as a last resort.
Barillari Books: As good as it gets in the Square. Barillari's has its own romance section, complete with two ceiling to floor bookshelves loaded with heartbreak, lust, and, inexplicably, pirates. Sorry, no Harlequins.
If you want to spend the day usually set aside for the lacy, the red, and the chocolate-covered avoiding dreaded tutorial reading and relaxing with Raven and Buck, you just might have more luck in Boston.