Romance can be subtle and unexpected—it sometimes hides from us, pouncing when the stars align and when we’re least ready for it. Even though life can’t resemble the plot of a rom-com movie all the time, there are certain moments when it matches and even outstrips what romance novels have to offer. Considering that the romance fiction industry is worth over a billion dollars, that’s quite something!
The suggestively named California-based bookstore ‘The Ripped Bodice’ asked its followers on Twitter to share the times that their lives most resembled romance novels. And, wow, did they deliver! The stories are fantastic and odds are that they might make you believe in love at first sight, true love, and soulmates all over again. As a huge literature lover, I’m happy to see the world of books overlap with real life so much.
As you’re reading the incredibly romantic IRL moments, remember to upvote the ones that made your heart beat faster. Do you have your own memorable romantic moments that you’d like to share with all the other Pandas here? You can do so in the comments.
Be sure to scroll down for Bored Panda's interview with Leah Koch, who runs the 'The Ripped Bodice' together with her sister, Bea. Meanwhile, Bored Panda also reached out to certified relationship and self-love coach Alex Scot to hear her thoughts about how romance novels and movies affect our expectations for our relationships.
Image credits: TheRippedBodice
Leah, one of the co-owners of 'The Ripped Bodice' bookstore, told Bored Panda that people often turn to romance novels during times of turmoil. "Romance has always been the genre of joy and that appeals to so many types of people. For many romance readers, the stability and reassurance of a guaranteed Happily Ever After is a boon during difficult and uncertain times," she said.
I was interested to find out a bit about the bookstore's history. Leah was kind enough to go into detail. "The Ripped Bodice is owned by myself and my sister, we opened in March 2016 after raising 91K on Kickstarter to bring our dream of a romance-only bookstore to life. We are women and Queer owned and it is our goal to feature a vast and diverse selection of romance fiction," she explained.
"The store and its owners undertake several large projects each year including The Ripped Bodice State of Racial Diversity in Romance Report, the Read, Romance, Repeat subscription box, and the development of television projects based on romance novels in association with Sony Pictures Television," she added that they're closely involved in a number of important projects.
Like many American businesses, 'The Ripped Bodice' has also been greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. "It has definitely been a very, very challenging time to be a brick-and-mortar small business," Leah told Bored Panda. "We had to fully close to foot traffic for three months so we had to make a full pivot to being online only during that time. Since we've been allowed to reopen, we've been focused on helping our business to thrive during constantly changing times."
Leah added that if anyone's already looking for a holiday gift for any romance readers in their life, they can check out the bookstore's romance subscription box, Read, Romance, Repeat.
‘The Ripped Bodice’ prides itself on being the “only exclusively romance brick-and-mortar bookstore on the West Coast” in the United States. Sisters Bea and Leah opened up the bookstore right on the border between Culver City and Los Angeles.
According to relationship coach Alex, romance novels and media tend to create expectations for relationships that can’t be met. “Many romantic comedies have a plotline of: boy meets girl, they fall in love, they break up/have a falling out, they get back together, and live happily ever after. This has caused many people to believe that true love includes very high highs and very low lows, which leads to staying in unhealthy relationships for too long,” the expert explained to Bored Panda.
“There are also many gender stereotypes that are demonstrated in these forms of media, which leads some people within relationships to compare to those ideals. Both of these instances can leave people feeling unsatisfied or wondering ‘is this is it’ within their relationships because what they see on TV, at the movies, or within novels is much more dramatic, passionate, and intoxicating than real-life dynamics. In truth, normal healthy relationships aren’t always marketable enough to portray on television or within novels.”
“The Ripped Bodice features a vast and diverse selection of romance fiction. In addition to books, the store has a wide selection of gift items with a focus on supporting independent, woman-owned businesses,” the Koch sisters write on the bookstore’s website.
"How many comic-book stores are there across the country? Even in small towns, they’ll have a comic-book store. But romance outsells comics by a landslide. Pure dollars and cents. So we thought if comic books can survive in midsize towns, we can survive in [Los Angeles], one of the biggest cities in America," Leah, the co-founder of the store, told ‘Glamour’ in an interview.
The Koch sisters found out that the only romance-focused bookstore in the world was based in Australia, so they knew that this was a niche that would be perfect for them, a way to bring their teenage dreams and goals to life. That’s when they launched a Kickstarter campaign that netted them over 90k dollars.
The Koch sisters grew up in Chicago, Illinois, surrounded by books. They’re “lifelong romance readers” and they realized their dream to open up a bookstore 5 years ago. Bea published her first book, ‘Mad & Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency’ in 2020.
If any of you Pandas are in California and you’re thinking of swinging by the bookstore, there are some basic rules that you should be aware of. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to rage, so naturally, there are restrictions we all have to follow when going to a bookstore (or any store for that matter) in person.
First of all, the obvious: “No Mask, No Entry.” It might sound obvious, but it’s worth repeating it. ‘The Ripped Bodice’ is super friendly in this regard, however. If you find yourself without a mask, but with a massive yearning to purchase a teetering tower of books, then you can knock on the door and a staff member will bring you a mask that you can keep.
The bookstore owners also ask their customers to “browse with intention” and to avoid touching books in the store if they don’t have to. Daily reminder: we’re in the middle of a global pandemic; don’t touch what you don’t need to. Remember to not touch your face so much, either (no matter how much it itches).
Only 7 customers are allowed in at a time and if you’ve got any children, they shouldn’t leave your side. ‘The Ripped Bodice’ also used to have a tea service (what a fantastic idea!), though it had to suspend it. However, you can still buy some tea leaves at the store and make tea at home.
Note: this post originally had 69 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.