Libraries typically push middlebrow “literate fiction,” but often barely tolerate popular genres like romance, westerns and science fiction.

Evanston Public Library plans to remedy that neglect by hosting a romance- readers weekend, with appearances by local romance writers, a paperback exchange and – of course – cupcakes.

“Indulge in Romance” hits town from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Feb. 12, coinciding with a “Shop and Share” program at the Evanston Borders Books. During the entire Valentine’s Day weekend, a percentage of all local Borders sales will benefit the Evanston Public Library.

Anyone unfamiliar with romance reading need not worry.  The Evanston Public Library invites anyone willing to surrender to the fun of the  genre. Some may equate romances with ripped bodices and barely clad gentlemen, but romance fiction has grown up, and this diverse genre attracts a wide variety of readers and authors. 

A New York Times article from Dec. 12, 2010, “Lusty Tales and Hot Sales: Romance E-Books Thrive,” reminds that in the age of the e-reader, romances are hot. “In 2009 … romance fiction generated $1.36 billion in sales, giving it the largest share of the overall trade-book market.” 

The diversity of romance fiction may surprise. From paranomal to chick-lit; historical to suspense, there is a happy ending out there for everyone. 

The five talented authors participating in the panel discussion all focus on different sub-genres of romance. Barbara Binns does urban young adult romances; Julie James, romantic suspense novels based on her experience as a lawyer; Maureen Lang, inspirational romances with a historical twist, and Margot Justes writes international mysteries. Rounding out the panel is Patricia Rosemoor, the author of 50 Harlequin “Intrigue” novels as well as books in the contemporary, historical and paranormal sub-genres. Evanston is enormously lucky to have these authors participate in the panel.

This fun and festive event takes place in the Community Meeting Room of the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave.  Author discussions will begin at 2 p.m., with book sales, book swap, cupcakes and a raffle to follow. 

Participants can even bring their own gently used romances to swap. No registration is required, but more information is available by e-mailing Juliette at jswett@ecityofevenston.org.

It’s a long, cold, lonely winter: No one should be denied the pleasure of romance.