Came across another one today: either quoting poetry incorrectly, or using it incorrectly. Like taking a love poem that's very possessive or satirical, and using it as an example of "romance." Or even incorporating other novels/literature as source material without really understanding it. Like using a novel that is about a dysfunctional relationship as an example of "romance." Understand the source material you're invoking!
Can we please please have some example quotes?
Not the OP, but I know for me I honestly don't understand why people consider "Wuthering Heights" to be so romantic when it strikes me as being incredibly dysfunctional.
Also makes me think of people using "Every Breath You Take" as a song for their first dance. Or "We've Got Tonight".
Anyone who tries to compare themselves to Romeo and Juliet - "So you're 13 and 16 respectively and several people are going to die?"
And Wuthering Heights is one of the examples I was thinking of. Both Stephenie Meyers and the 50 Shades author use examples of what they obviously think of as highly romantic books -- Wuthering Heights and Tess of the D'Urbervilles, respectively -- to parallel their books' OTPs, but are completely oblivious to the subtexts and most of the texts of those books! I also hate it when people use Emily Dickinson's poetry as "It's so angsty, this sad, lonely girl wandering around, alone and unloved." Dickinson was just the opposite of that, agoraphobia or not. In fact, her self-removal from society can be read as a very active and strong act. I've also seen quotes from Chaucer and from John Donne used as "romantic poetry" examples, and really, an out-of-context line or two from highly satiric and skeptical poets does not = Golly-jeepers! ROMANCE. Ditto Shakespeare.
Song lyrics, too. I'm glad someone mentioned "Every Breath You Take"!
A similar non-romantic example is when contemporary readers ascribe contemporary contexts that did not exist at the time a book was published. I haven't come across this in others' fiction yet, but memoirs and non-fiction reflections of "Little Women" sometimes include what a wonderful Christian family the Marches were. Okay, the book followed Pilgrim's Progress and all that, but it's a mistake to think the Alcott family, or their fictionalized counterparts, the Marches, were like contemporary evangelicals or fundamental Christians. They were more like dirty hippies than anything, eschewing church and religious leaders, worshipping God through nature, fighting for equal rights for women and blacks, etc. Thinking that somehow they exemplify contemporary "family values" schtick is a complete misrepresentation.