There's an interesting article in Time this week about the effect of romance novels on women's expectations in relationships. The author of the article says that romantic fiction misleads women into idealizing dangerous sex and doesn't portray life and relationships realistically. Many people commented that they read lots of romances and still had healthy relationships; they say while younger readers might be influenced by what they read, more experienced women can separate fantasy from reality and view the books as escapism, nothing more. Others say that readers of mystery or fantasy don't become violent or believe magic really works. It sounds as if the article in time was based on an opinion piece, not a scientific study. I don't think an article like this will kill the romance industry.
Let's look at the article from a different angle: have there been works of fiction that influenced your outlook? I personally have been most influenced by stories that introduced me to perspectives of people with different backgrounds than mine. One example would be Gossamer Axe, which features a lesbian trying to rescue her lover. Books like this one helped me become more tolerant of others. How have books changed you?