Romance vs Self Help

I used to buy all kinds of self-help books, generally in airport bookstores…

I’m a nervous flyer, but apart from the lockdowns during the pandemic, I’ve flown a lot despite my fears. I tend to get to airports way too early (I’m late for everything else), which means I end up having too much time to browse through the shops near duty free and try on my mother’s old perfume (Opium, by-the-by). I used to buy self-help books in airport bookstores—they tend to have vaguely reassuring titles, right? I ended up with the ones that have a ton of workbook forms to fill in, which left me scribbling my answers illegibly through turbulence. And my feelings about flight were unchanged. I was still really afraid of flying.

Then just a bit before the pandemic, I swapped out the self-help books for romance novels, which I’ve always loved. Suddenly, I enjoyed flying a lot more; I looked out the window at the fascinating sky; I read; I laughed; I was happy. Turns out, romance is more effective therapy than self-help books.

Maybe I find it more helpful to see self-help advice in action, so to speak. Certain kinds of novel are termed escapism and, well, hell yeah! But also, no. During the pandemic, I read & re-read pretty much all of R. Cooper’s fantasy romance books —much the way I used to read self-help therapy books. As an unexpected plus, Cooper’s Being(s) in Love series uses traditional flower lore to great effect, which means every time there’s a new plant on the page I rush to look it up and admire photographs of the flower. So here I offer a photo of the Clematis, because when I was in Montréal last week, I saw this beauty. I am reminded that Clematis represents mental strength, ingenuity, and artifice… and isn’t that an interesting combination of traits? A good description for my character Ludo, in Praline Martini, in fact.

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