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Flyleaf Books celebrates Bookstore Romance Day with author talks

Flyleaf Books childrens room photo.JPG
The interior of Flyleaf Books. Photo courtesy of Jamie Fiocco.

Flyleaf Books celebrated the romance genre by inviting two authors to discuss love over a cup of tea on Saturday.

The event was in celebration of Bookstore Romance Day — a designated day for independent bookstores to celebrate romance fiction and strengthen their relationships with romance fiction readers.

Authors Martha Waters and Sarah Grunder Ruiz had a casual conversation with guests about their experiences as both fans and authors of romance books. 

Grunder Ruiz’s novel “Last Call at the Local” will be released on Jan. 2, 2024 and Waters’ novel “To Woo and to Wed,” the final book in the Regency Vow series, will be released on Feb. 6, 2024. 

They spoke about the difficulty of coming up with titles, their mutual appreciation for the banter and dialogue of romance books and the changes they have seen in the genre over the years. 

Both authors said they were glad they could celebrate the event at Flyleaf — an independent bookstore that embraces the genre. 

Emma Holland, an indie bookseller and marketing and events coordinator at Flyleaf Books, said Bookstore Romance Day is a great way to promote independent bookstores and celebrate femininity in romance, which she feels has been looked down on for a long time. 

Holland said that recent pop culture trends, like the movie "Barbie" and the popularity of Taylor Swift, have brought back an appreciation for "ultra-feminine things" like romance books and women's fiction. 

“With romance, why has it been so looked down upon for years? Well, who is the audience? Women,” Grunder Ruiz said. “So it's also a celebration of women and everyone who identifies as a woman so I think that we can't forget that aspect of it too.” 

Laura Raffield, an assistant professor in the UNC Department of Genetics and friend of Waters, said she did not like romance books until Waters introduced them to her. When she tried them though, they exceeded her expectations. 

“It's nice to have something that you know is going to end happily,” Raffield said.

Both authors at the event found a similar comfort in the endings of romance novels. 

“It does represent this safe space that feels like an escape from the world, while also still engaging with real world issues in a way that feels really responsible and thoughtful and different than you encounter in a lot of other spaces in contemporary society,” Waters said. 

Grunder Ruiz agreed, and said that the comforting structure of romance novels also enables inclusivity. In recent years, she said she's seen a lot more exploration of queer, disabled and neurodivergent characters in the genre. 

"Romance is a great place to celebrate those differences and show that everybody deserves love," she said.

She said that even though she's happy to see some changes she knows the genre still has a long way to go. 

Waters said that although she loves classic stories from authors like Jane Austen, they do not represent everyone. She also said she saw the genre getting better, and noted how meaningful it could be to the audience. 

Local readers can explore more of the romance genre through New Romantics, Flyleaf's new romance book club which they announced at the end of the event. The club will discuss "Business or Pleasure" by Rachel Lynn Solomon at their first meeting on Sept. 22 at 6 p.m.

@bridget_bendezu

@dthlifestyle | lifestyle@dailytarheel.com

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