Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Killing Time Online: Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

I recently stumbled across a website called Smart Bitches, Trashy Books which is hilarious and fun (especially for those who read romance novels, but I'm guessing that some of the features would amuse anyone, anywhere).

There is, as I'm sure you all know, quite the stigma about reading romance novels--I generally won't buy them, but I often use them as escapist reading (as I don't have a television)... so sue me. This means, however, I have to endure what always seems to be scornful glances from those people lugging around "real" reading whenever I stray into the romance aisle at the library. There are several things these Snobby McSnobbersons are forgetting, however:

  • From a feminist standpoint, the heroines of romance novels are generally interesting (have careers and/or hobbies) and are plucky, vs. most of the female role models we have in film and television nowadays, who are neither plucky nor interesting, they're just SEXY SEXY SEXY!
  • Most historical romances are researched to the point of excruciating detail, and many romance authors actually have awesome websites set up to make their research materials available to the world wide web.
  • Women (and I suppose men) who read these books don't do so to intellectually improve themselves. They're read with the full knowledge of being frothy and frivolous. My real concern are people who read other frothy and frivolous books and think they're great--cough--Water for Elephants--cough.

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books both refers to these highpoints and removes some of the sting of the scornful glances of the "literarily elite" (I made that term up) by acknowledging that (a) romance novels can be ridiculous, and (b) they are therefore fun and funny. Of course, there are the obvious exceptions (such as the "rapey romances" of the 1980s...blech) but this site pokes such good-natured fun at the genre as a whole that it's impossible not to like it. Some of my favorite features include the following:

  • Cover Snark: looks at some really sterotypical romance novel covers with--you guessed it--snark. Hilarious.
  • Reviews: especially the bad ones, which make me sputter with laughter at work so that random passer-bys think I'm potentially crazed. (For example, here's the review of Devil's Embrace, by Catherine Coulter. It starts off calmly enough and turns into one of my favorite things to read online, a Rant-with-a-capital-R, with the hero of the novel eventually being termed Lord Creepy Uncle and ending with, "the heroine is stupid and the hero should be fed to sharks." Seriously funny stuff.)
  • Caption that Cover: commentors post their made-up captions to some really horrendous romance cover novels to try to win a book. Example:
    Tell me that's not funny. Even funnier were some of the captions submitted: "Why did she laugh? I don't see anything wrong" ; "In retrospect, that Barry Manilow tattoo was a bad idea" ; "Hello, old friend. Looks like it's just you and me... again" ; and my personal favorite, "Who the f*** has towels that say 'Dry Clean Only'?"
Anyway, check it out--it's worth the effort.

(There is also a book by the creators that you might like to read called Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels.)

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