4 Literary Archetypes You Shouldn’t Love IRL

If you’ve been living under a rock since 2012, you’ve probably woken up to find said rock covered in pink glitter and heart confetti, because today is Valentine’s Day. Many book bloggers have been discussing the best or worst romances in literature, but I’d like to talk about the sorts of characters that are totally swoon-worthy in novels, but I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole in real life:

The Age of Innocence: Nothing says danger like an affair with your wife’s cousin!

The Bad Boy/Girl

You’ve always been warned against them: the rough-around-the-edges type that will get you into trouble and break your heart. You wouldn’t bring them home to your parents, and that’s exactly their allure. Whether it’s taking you to that seedy bar on the back of a motorcycle or convincing you to get a tattoo, everything about them is exciting and a wee bit dangerous. Unfortunately, that adrenaline rush of passion only leads to equally explosive fights and breakups.

Heathcliff: Convincing women around the world to ignore red flags–like hanging your beloved’s dog!

The Angsty Outsider

Unlike the bad boy/girl, the angsty outsider might have a heart of gold. At least you hope so, because their moodiness is downright depressing. They blame their me-against-the-world attitude on their parents’ divorce, school bullying, or impoverished upbringing, and since they’re just so pitiful, you want to be the one to bring  joy back into their lives. All that pressure to be their beacon of light will eventually drain you so much that you’ll abandon them–giving them yet another reason to believe the worst in people–or you’ll end up just as dark and gloomy as them. Misery sure does love company!

Missing: One glass slipper and one actual personality

The Prince(ss) Charming

They’re stunningly good-looking, intelligent, and kind-hearted. They have a lucrative job and a gorgeous home. They really listen to what you say and can always make you laugh. Perhaps their spare time is spent helping the elderly across intersections and taking in stray kittens. All your friends and relatives love them and are counting down the days until your nuptials. But…you want there to be a but. All this perfection is driving you crazy and feeding into your worst insecurities. You wonder what’s wrong with them, what’s wrong with you, until your paranoia sabotages the whole thing. Beware of people who never have bad hair days or get flat tires. They might actually belong in the next category…

Vampire love: When you want to kiss and kill someone at the same time!

The Mythical Creature

Vampires, werewolves, elves, merpeople, even zombies have been re-imagined in literature as lover material. I had no idea that blood-sucking and brain-devouring could be considered sexy but books have come a long way since Dracula. If monsters started appearing in our daily lives, here’s how it would play out: (1) Only you would know their secret, making you feel oh-so-special, until your loved ones start to wonder why your mate doesn’t have a reflection…or a pulse. (2) Someone spills the beans, and you spend the rest of your life keeping your mythical creature away from greedy scientists and rival demons. Don’t worry about it too much, as odds are, your life isn’t going to be very long anyway now.

Any other tropes I’ve missed? What’s a turn-off in books that would be a turn-off IRL? Sound off in the comments!

2011 Book Review Catch-Up: Part 2

The new year is less than a week away, and I still have four books to review before I present my complete ratings list. So let’s just jump right in, shall we? Today I wanted to review two romance novels: Gone with the Nerd by Vicki Lewis Thompson and The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan.

Image via Open Library

Gone with the Nerd (Rating: 4 out of 5)

I’m not a big reader of romance novels, especially not the embarrassing bodice-rippers with shirtless guys on the covers. But you haven’t read Thompson’s Nerd series, you’re in for a real treat. Currently seven stand-alone novels, the series focuses on women attracted to geeky computer programmers and engineers instead of princes and vampires. Gone with the Nerd, published in 2005, follows the sexual tension between actress Zoe Tarleton and her attorney Flynn Granger. Determined to nab some more serious roles, Zoe travels to California’s Bigfoot country so she can secretly rehearse her lines as a dowdy chemist. Flynn offers to go over lines with her, but what happens when their chemistry jumps off the pages? And what about all the mysterious accidents that keep occurring, including the poisoned food and killer bees? Granted, the plot’s predictable and the dialogue’s cheesy, but the love scenes are ultra-hot and Thompson always promises a happy ending. I also recommend Nerd in Shining Armor, Talk Nerdy to Me, and Nerd Gone Wild.

Image via The New Yorker

The Lover’s Dictionary (Rating: 4 out of 5)

Calling this a romance novel is a bit misleading, but it’s an excellent tale of love and loss. From the author famous for Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and published earlier this year, it’s a unconventional story showing the rise and fall of the narrator’s relationship through word entries like a dictionary. Each letter of the alphabet can have multiple entries, which vary in length from a few pages to a single sentence. You never learn everything about their lives together, but you piece together their ups-and-downs all while learning new vocabulary! Written in a non-linear style, it’s a refreshing take on the person-meets-person plot (it’s even ungendered for universality). Beware, at only 224 pages, you’ll finish this book in one sitting. So wish it could have been a longer read!

One of my favorite entries: autonomy, n. “I want my books to have their own shelves,” you said, and that’s how I knew it would be okay to live together.

So if you’re interested in some good, not-old-fashioned love stories, check out these two. And be sure to read my final catch-up mini-review tomorrow!