Written by Lindsey Ferris
Whether you celebrate Valentine’s day with a box of chocolates or Ben and Jerry’s, the traditional romantic gesture involves words spoken from the heart. We all know the classic “Roses are red;” however, for the people lucky enough to dodge Cupid’s arrow and are exhausted by the cliches oozing off every page of romance novels, perhaps a limerick would more appropriately convey your feelings about the fluff that lines the shelves of bookstores.
There once was a writer of romance
Whose readers were all in a trance
But his book was not novel
(It seemed like a brothel!)
He couldn’t keep his wick in his pants.
Romance novels may contain the idealistic relationship that a certain type of reader dreams of, but after reading the gamut, it’s easy to see that the classic romance novel formula is actually repetitive and cheesy. In celebration of Valentine’s Day, why not dump romance novels for limericks? After all, stories from the likes of Nicholas Sparks and Danielle Steel are just the tip of the romantic iceberg.
1. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
There once was a man with an ache,
Either from thirst or simple heartbreak,
He’d smell blood on the double,
Which gave him some trouble,
For his girlfriend smelled just like a steak.
Vampires had begun their retreat to the shadows until Stephanie Meyers pulled them out to sparkle again. The Twilight Saga brought on an onslaught of books and shows that audiences readily sank their teeth into. The appeal of a “vegetarian” bad boy vampire who wants to kill you literally all the time but finds the strength to restrain himself intrigued not only Bella, but most of the pre-tweens in your middle school. Twilight dragged the sexy vampire trope out of its coffin and dressed it up as a romance between a pedophilic, 108 year old vampire (who’s still in high school?) and a seventeen year old girl. Bella’s character quickly becomes a pain in the neck, as she is described like every girl has once felt: awkward and insecure. But of course, her life changes when a boy tells her she’s beautiful. Suddenly, Bella is suckered in for life by the perfect guy. But, I mean—who among us?
2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
There once was a man named John
Who wrote books for young morons
Cigarettes are a metaphor
But who did he mean it for?
Every pen stroke he does makes me yawn.
You would think John Green’s fourth novel, The Fault in Our Stars, would demonstrate some sophistication—instead, he comes across as your friend’s dad trying too hard to relate to “kids these days.” John Green writes the protagonist as your average teenage girl—until he forgets and inserts his own dusty and bookish thoughts into the character. Maturity clashes with young cheap lines written for a laugh, like Hazel’s lovely description of August: “Look, let me just say it: He was hot. A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst, a form of assault. But a hot boy…well.” John Green’s…clever…line of “Okay? Okay” captivated the world, and lives on today (and forever) in the form of countless tattoos. But there couldn’t be a better description of his own book! It really was just okay.
3. Nicholas Sparks
There once was a man named Nic
Who wrote each book with a trick:
Whether star-crossed lover
Or boy from the gutter,
He regrettably wrote each like a prick.
Nicholas Sparks is the first name that comes to mind when romance is mentioned. Churning books into billion dollar movies, his heart-wrenching cliches have captured everyone’s attention. No one can resist the guilty pleasure of dreaming someone will dash after you in the rain and sweep you off your feet into a life changing kiss. Remember that girl from high school who was oddly obsessed with Disney and true love? That was actually Nicholas Sparks. After writing thirteen novels, it’s obvious that he has found the magical equation to make the New York Times Bestsellers list. His key ingredients include handwritten letters, girls from the upper class, tragic endings, small towns, dancing alone, cheesy dialogue, strong father bonds, and absent mothers. Another constant? Every book is set in god-forsaken North Carolina. At least he’s writing what he knows?
4. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
With wonders of time travel handy,
She slipped through the stones on her fanny
“Sassenach” Jamie’d purr,
When she was not so demure
As she saw ‘neath his kilt, no panty.
Period romances are known to swoon even the strictest celibate, with leading male characters that bring chivalry back to life by acting like true (if roguish?) gentlemen. Bridging two very different eras of the 1700s and 1940s, Outlander is the mother of all period novels. Our heroine, Claire, slips through time via mystical stones and immediately becomes entangled into a (not so) classic love triangle. Torn between the husband she left behind in the 1940s and the dashing Scot who protects her in the 1700s, Claire can’t seem to pick just one. Does she stay with the clean-cut soldier who returns to his bookish life post WW2, or the sexy Scot whispering in her ear? While we can all certainly sympathize with this exact situation, it’s hard to back a heroine who has such inconsistent taste in men.
5. Danielle Steel
She wrote one-seventy-nine,
Society she wanted to climb,
Her pages are steamy
And the men always dreamy
But her cleverness is less than sublime.
Danielle Steel’s first novel, Going Home, was published in 1973, starting a romance career where she quickly churned out 179 easy reads. Her reach is vast and power alarming, as she’s been published in 43 languages and 69 countries. With an average of seven novels a year, how can Steel have any time to go outside and gather life experiences to feed her novels? Perhaps the answer is she doesn’t need to because of the formulaic way she writes. With accolades like making the Guinness Book of World Records, it’s fair to say that creativity has taken a back seat in favor of bourgeois mass production. The very desk that Danielle Steel spends 20 hours a day writing on is custom made to look like a giant stack of her three best sellers. Satisfaction or hubris? Let’s ask her 6,000 pairs of Louboutins.
6. The Fifty Shades Series by E.L. James
E.L. James thought it clever to steal
And made the red room a big deal
Anastasia was shy
’til she saw Christian’s tie,
With a snap of his fingers she’d heel.
Fifty Shades of Grey quickly swept the nation and became a bestseller—but really, can this novel even be considered a romance when it’s actually just Twilight fan fic? Yes, the obvious references to Twilight and the famous names of Bella and Edward have been changed; however, once you know that this story was originally a serialized fanfic based on Meyer’s work, you really start to appreciate the very, very minimal editing style the publishers used before publishing it into the, uh, glory we know today. How can Christian Grey even attempt towards realism when he is a multi millionaire CEO without a college degree at the ripe old age of twenty seven? But it’s okay—not only is he a beautiful man with a godly figure muscled to perfection, he can also masterfully operate a helicopter. Realism! But the most important detail is his, let’s say, unnaturally good skill in bed. Christian Grey is how we got a genre riddled with power hungry, ego-sensitive men for whom female characters love to throw their spines out the window. And where did Christian Grey come from? Ask Stephenie Meyers.
I apologize for my rudeness,
I’m usually not a nuisance,
But regarding love
(Which we hear too much of)
A limerick can run interference.