Shame and Smells

Thank to Lori, Leslie, and many others for the heads up: One of this week’s Post Secrets is from a woman who sent in a post card made from the cover of a Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ novel. Her postcard reads:

“I am too intellectual and sophisticated to be seen reading ‘chick lit.’ Thank goodness for audio books and ipods.”

As I said to Lori, this postcard makes me feel glad to know how many women I’ve met through SBTB who are proud to read romance and don’t care what anyone thinks. And at the same time it makes me sad because boy howdy there are some hella judgmental people who probably would sniff at this woman for reading what she calls “chick lit.”

Yo, post secret lady. Come on in. The water’s fine and friendly over here. You’re awesome just the way you are.

And, in the event that you are still not sure about the whole ebook thing, Janet Mullany and many others including SomonaLass and Brandi, sent me a link that’s sure to convince you that everything paper books do, ebooks can do, too. Even the smell: The Smell of Ebooks, available in five aromas, including “Eau You Have Cats.” That name cracks me up like damn.

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  1. 1
    Suze says:

    WHAT a cool site!  I enjoyed that so much!  Thank you.

  2. 2

    OMG. That is fabulous! The funny thing is, ok besides the names and fragrance choices, that I bet it does answer some nagging need out there in booklandia for those who eschew ebooks because they don’t “smell” right.

  3. 3
    Ann says:

    Did you read the warnings?  Especially for the Scent of Sensibility.

  4. 4
    Mads says:

    Smell of books! Ohmygoodness how cool. And I feel bad for the post secret woman. She needs some smart bitches. Smart Bitches has definitely helped me get over the stigma, most of the time I’m willing to sit on public transport and read a romance novel. Though granted, I read resting my book on my lap and I get slightly uneasy if someone tries to read over my shoulder. It made me laugh a little because, holed up with flu, I’m listening to a Susan Elizabeth Phillips audio book :-D

  5. 5
    April says:

    I’m fine with reading the chick lit ones in public, but I’ve had issues with trying to read the pornmance ones.  I’ve had a couple experiences where I look up and realize I’m sitting across from my company’s chief legal something or another on the train.  After that I switched to ebook for the bad ones…  And somehow when I’m in a hurry I only remember to grab the laptop and not the physical books.  Then one day I pull out my little laptop and this 14ish year old kid is fascinated by it, peering over my shoulder to read the screen, and I realize all I have on it are the ellora’s cave and loose id ones….  So I had to put away the laptop.  That was a really boring train ride.

  6. 6

    The Smell of eBooks! That is some kind of witty. Thanks for the great link~

  7. 7
    Kiki says:

    Do any of you read SKIRT, the oversized newspaper magazine that says it’s about female empowerment but most of the ads are about nipping, tucking,  Botox, and designer trunk shows, which leads me to believe the “empowered” demographic the mag writes for are actually terrified of looking real ‘lest their mates dump them? There’s an article in there about romance novels by Erin Spradlin.

    Go to skirt.com, click on “essays,” and it’s the third one down the page.  What do you think? Discuss amongst yourselves.

  8. 8
    Randi says:

    @ Kiki:

    Erin Spradlin has a nice writing voice. A bit youngish sounding, but there’s talent there. I’m not sure she’s even read a romance novel though. She has some basic assumptions about the genre that smack of stereotyping. If she has read one, she hasn’t read the range; so she’s still making assumptions.  And there ARE stories about women who sleep with tons of men and have no emotional problems with it. She can find them in Fiction.

    Out of curiosity: if one is about to engage in producing a product, why wouldn’t one actually research the intended consumer base?  OK, that was really a rhetorical question.

  9. 9
    Kiki says:

    Hey, Randi! Enjoyed your comment. I appreciate Erin Spradlin’s desire to read what she thinks of as a “realistic” romance, but you’re right—there are plenty of books out there with that vibe. She obviously hasn’t found any.

    I guess what I resent is her implication that reading “unrealistic” fiction is bad. Who is she to scorn someone else’s reading tastes? And quite frankly, love happens. It IS a reality and/or hope for many people, whatever the cynics say about how we should really just whine for 80 years about what we don’t have and then die.

    And as for SKIRT, I’ve always noted the hypocrisy of the mag’s “Go, Girl” message versus their hysteria-inducing ad content. My God, do NOT read SKIRT if you have sagging breasts, crooked teeth, or a thin wallet!

  10. 10
    Lori says:

    I agree with Randi that Erin Spradlin has a nice writing voice, but that article was all kinds of wrong.

    Her first problem is that she’s trying to write a romance novel because she thinks that’s where the money is. That’s a recipe for Epic Fail.

    Second, this is not true:

    no one wants to read a novel where I discuss at great length how sexy it is to be with a man who values making his own bed, admits to a man crush on John Lennon and has absolutely no debt. That is ridiculously sexy—audible farting noises or not—but that’s just not the stuff of romance novels.

    I think that the right author could write that book and sell it. Maybe if Erin Spradlin weren’t so clueless and dismissive about the genre she could be that writer.

    As for why there are no romance novels about a woman sleeping around and not calling guys back, it’s because that story is not a romance. Depending on how you spin the story it could be chick lit, woman’s fiction or erotica but it’s not a romance.  If she wasn’t focused on nothing but dollar signs she might be able to see that and write the book she wants to write.

    I could go on, but there’s no reason for me to turn this into a rant.
    I wish her well with her writing, but to the extent that this article reflects reality I think she’s making things necessarily difficult for herself and she’s facing a long, uphill battle.

  11. 11
    Randi says:

    Lori,

    As for why there are no romance novels about a woman sleeping around and not calling guys back, it’s because that story is not a romance. Depending on how you spin the story it could be chick lit, woman’s fiction or erotica but it’s not a romance.  If she wasn’t focused on nothing but dollar signs she might be able to see that and write the book she wants to write.

    You said it! I was trying to figure out how to say all that and just couldn’t come up with the right way to do it. So, thanks for putting in your comment, because that was EXACTLY how I was feeling.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    Suze says:

    @Lori —ditto to everything you said.  If you don’t like romances, you won’t write good ones.  If you’re just in it for the money, if you don’t enjoy what you’re writing, you’ll write crap.

  14. 14

    I appreciate the criticism and acknowledge that some of you may be onto something. Does anyone have a suggestion for a fun/hip/well written romance novel that I can read and enlighten myself with? Seriously. I’m open to seeing what all the rage is about and my research was definitely thin. Help a bitch out!

  15. 15
    Kiki says:

    Dear Erin,

    I was so excited when you wrote in here and was totally into trying to help you find some books you’d like to help you research. So I put word out on my writers loop to help get you some good suggestions for titles—until one of my writer friends emailed me a post on your personal blog where you tell people like me, who like romance, to go F—- themselves.

    So I’m outta here. But maybe someone else will help you out. Good luck.

  16. 16
    Erin Spradlin says:

    Hello! I guess your friend didn’t mention the follow up post where I admitted I knew I was acting like an a-hole and this site was full of hip/fun/cool people and I should give it a shot. Because I didn’t get any credit for that either, I pulled both.

    I meant it when I said I’d love to see what the rage is about. The article was meant to be funny and not some terrific attack against the romance novel community. My apologies for my many offenses… and I hope, if someone can get over my hideous crime, I’ll get a good suggestion.

  17. 17
    SophieB says:

    It seems that many of you have missed the point of Erin Spradlin’s article.  It’s supposed to be funny.  Have any of you intellectuals heard of satire?

  18. 18
    Chelsea says:

    Wow, for a bunch of women who are sensitive about receiving criticism for their likes/dislikes, you all are certainly willing to dish it out where Miss Spradlin is concerned. 

    There is this great part of life called: SARCASM, which, in my humble opinion was executed beautifully in the article.  It made me laugh, it made me feel empowered as a woman to decide for myself what is sexy.  And personally, I find fairy tails (as in the type of love and romance you are looking to read about) rather bland – is there really character development and growth to be learned from the always happy ending. 

    In short, perhaps y’all should construct your criticisms more thoughtfully before falling into such hypocrisy.

  19. 19
    SB Sarah says:

    Yo Erin: Email me at sarah @ smartbitchestrashybooks.com and we’ll talk. I’d be pleased to help you come up with a “Oh crap, romance is good!” reading list.

    personally, I find fairy tails (as in the type of love and romance you are looking to read about) rather bland – is there really character development and growth to be learned from the always happy ending.

    Yo Chelsea: Yes, in fact. 

    Also: bite me. That wasn’t sarcasm.

  20. 20
    Kiki says:

    Erin, This has gotten out of hand. I’m sure you didn’t set out to offend romance writers with your article. For me, it was more a matter of your not having researched the genre thoroughly.

    There are so many great snarky writers out there, and your voice would fit right in. I hope you find some to your liking.

    I can forgive and forget, and I appreciate your apology.

    We romance readers and writers ARE intellectually astute, Sophie, and we do appreciate satire, but it’s a bit hard to laugh when the satire is aimed at you incessantly. 

    Have you noticed that the only genre of commercial fiction that takes so much flack is romance? Not sci-fi? Not mystery/thrillers? Not Westerns, etc.? And guess who writes most of the romance? Women, of course. And guess which genre is subsidizing all the others? You got it—romance. Once again, women are doing the heavy lifting and not being appreciated for it.

    Everyone, peace out and go back to reading and writing. :>)

  21. 21
    Suze says:

    I seem to recall a conversation about it being cool and all to be converting men like Lil’ BiT Patrick to the pink side, but wouldn’t it be even more cool to bring across women who don’t grok the Luurve?  It sounds like Erin is just that kind of person.

    So welcome, Erin.  I hope you take Sarah up on her offer, so that she can explore your preferences and recommend some romances you’ll love.  I know they exist.  The woman who doesn’t enjoy Romance doesn’t enjoy Life, for there is in Romance all that Life affords.  (Apologies to Samuel Johnson.)

  22. 22

    In case you want to see the article: http://www.skirt.com/node/52739

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