A couple of nights ago, I couldn’t sleep. This is not news. I know the drill. First thought was to read, but was too tired for that. Second thought was Netflix, but picking a show or movie took too much energy, so I hopped on over to YouTube. Once again, picking out something to watch was beyond me, until I caught sight of those magical words: book review. Books? On YouTube? Did you know that was a thing?
I, personally, did not, until that night, and I spent a few hours flitting from one channel to another, drinking in this strange, and entertaining, new world. Watch a total stranger show off their book haul, blather about their favorite reads, or pontificate/rant/gush over favorite/unfavorite authors, books, topics, tropes, or characters? Yes, please.
I quickly found myself scanning thumbnails and descriptions for mentions of historical romance, my favorite genre, and also clicked on any mention of “dark romance” I could find, skittering quickly away if the books proved, in fact, to not belong to the romance genre at all, and taking note when the host mentioned any titles that looked especially intriguing. This is one of the best parts of romance fandom, finding out what other people are reading and loving, and not only what, but why. Even reviewers whose tastes don’t jibe with mine can be useful. It’s fun to watch anybody geek out over romance novels, and to see an assortment of people -mostly women, okay, all women, so far, that I’ve seen, but if there are any Romance Dudes BookTubing out there, shoot me their urls.- from different states, countries, and walks of life, loving the same books, authors, and storylines, well, that gives my book loving heart a hug.
It’s hard to pinpoint a favorite thing about these videos. They’re short, usually about five to fifteen minutes long, and a host may talk about romance only, or throw in a few other genres, like YA, fantasy, or mainstream fiction. Topics range from library or bookstore hauls, basically a “look what books I got” session, which is always fun, to rankings of all-time favorites, particular tropes, introductions to specific sub genres or authors, or even the experiences of a library volunteer, who takes the making of a romance section into her own hands. I love the bookshelf tours, the walkthroughs of TBR piles, and getting a feel for why those particular books appealed -or don’t work- for that particular reader.
Maybe that’s it, the virtual book gab, the knowledge that a fellow book lover is only a mouse click away, no matter the hour of day or night. Long ago, back in the days before internet, before even list serves (dating myself, I know) I’d wanted there to be some sort of all hours book social…place, where I could see and hear other romance lovers go nuts over the great books they just read, show off those covers, and engage in lively discussion. Okay, the face to face thing could use some work, because A) it’s not live (but it could be) and B) the time they’re talking isn’t the time I’m watching, but it’s still close. That’s why there are comment sections, and Ive seen some pretty interesting conversations going on in those things.
I have always loved reading book reviews, but these videos add another element. In a review, I see words on a screen. In a video, I see another person. Each person has their own look, their own surroundings, their own manner of speech, the way they move their faces and bodies. I will admit to keeping a close eye on the books on the shelves behind the hosts (many of them film in front of bookshelves, for good and obvious reason) and feel a kinship when I notice that some of the books on their shelves are the same as some on mine. I love the details each h0st shares – while hosts A and B may go nuts about the same book, A might rave over the accurate research the author did on this history of firefighting, because A or their spouse is, themselves, a firefighter, while B is all about the in-jokes and/or Easter eggs for fans of the series, and C picked up the book because there was a spotty dog on the cover, and now they love firefighter romance. Maybe host D might not be as into this particular book as the others were, but thought the love scenes were four-alarm hot, which is, for them, an absolute must.
Who’s right? Everybody. So is Host E, who has this book on their nope list, or worst reads list, o4 couldn’t get into it, list, or, or, or…you get the picture. That’s only covering the reader point of view. There are other videos, by industry professionals, inside glimpses by authors, snippets of conventions and conferences, and more. Those, I am sure, will be excellent slumber-less party guests in the not too distant future. I may or may not have jotted own a few ideas for video blathers of my own, because there’s always room for one more on the internet.
So, dear readers, I turn it now over to you. Do you watch romance novel-related videos on YouTube? If you do, which ones? Have any favorites? If not, would you like to give it a try? What sorts of topics would you like to see? Fancy a chance to show off your shelves, library haul, or TBR to the world at large? Pull up a chair in the comments section, and tell us all about it. There’s room at this table for everybody.